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5 Tips For Using Facebook Live for Community Engagement

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Anyone who manages social media for an organization (or uses it themselves!) knows that social media is a great way to engage with others. And for most public organizations, citizen engagement is a priority. Many government organizations use Facebook as a community engagement tool to share general news and updates, but the real benefit of the platform are features that allow individuals to become virtually involved in activities and events. Facebook events, polls, interests lists, and Live are some of these great features.

Facebook Live  is the latest in the social media giant’s arsenal of communication tools. Live allows individuals and organizations to create their own broadcasts via Facebook and create an opportunity to engage with others in a new way. Most recently, you have probably seen Facebook Live used for political debates and rallies.

You may be wondering why and how a public organization can use this new tool. The answer is simple: Facebook Live is the public access channel of the 21st century and is the new way to reach and engage your target audience. There are many possible uses of Live, including:

How To Videos: These can include topics such as emergency preparedness, registration for community programs, fire safety tips, or voter registration. Once the broadcast is completed, it will be housed in your page's ‘videos’ tab for easy viewing after the broadcast is over.

Live Vlogs: If your organization already has a regular blog, then it can be turned into a Facebook Live vlog! This is a great way to share updates and new initiatives that you want community members to be aware of.

Events: Public sector leaders know that community events such as festivals, commemorations, parades, and holiday celebrations are a great way to bring together members of the public. Now you can connect with those who are unable to attend by having a live broadcast of the event.

Press Conferences: Press conferences can be used for a variety of reasons and are an excellent way to inform and engage the public. Plan a live broadcast of your press conference to gain additional coverage and maximize reach.

It’s easy to use Facebook Live. Really. If you’re worried that you’re not ‘tech savvy’ enough to manage a broadcast–you have no need for concern. If you are able to take a good photo with your phone’s camera, then chances are you'll do well with a Live broadcast. However, there are five important tips to keep in mind before you get started to ensure you are providing a high quality experience.

  1. Do A Test Run: If you are using Facebook Live for the first time, do a trial run to work out any problems. First and foremost, you will want to make sure you have a strong signal. Next, you will want to test out the sound as the quality of the audio and video will directly impact viewers’ satisfaction with the Live experience.  When starting your test broadcast, you can set your privacy setting to “Only Me” so that no one else can view your test.
  2. Promote The Broadcast: Promote your Live broadcast in advance via all of your communication channels so the public knows to be on your Facebook page when you start. Your organization can have a  broadcast directly on  your organization page, but it also possible to have one via the Facebook Event feature. Events can be town meetings, Q&A sessions with community leaders, or press conferences.
  3. Create an Engaging Description: When you start your broadcast, it will show up on your follower's news feed. You will want a compelling description so the public will tune in. Be sure to use a headline that grabs the attention of your followers and that encourages them to share the broadcast with others.
  4. Mind Your Time: Facebook Live videos can run as long as 90 minutes, but depending upon your purpose, a smaller amount of time might be best. If you are using Live for ‘how-to’ videos or quick informational updates, then 3-5 minutes is best. For other purposes, between 10-30 minutes is ideal and you will want to be sure that the time is packed with useful and interesting information.
  5. Save a Copy: Once you are done with your broadcast, you will be prompted with a screen that will ask if you want to save the video to your phone's library. It’s a good idea to do so as that video can be posted on your organization's website and other social media platforms for continuous viewing.

If you are thinking about using this tool for your organization, be sure to watch some Facebook Live events first. This will help you identify best practices in terms of format, information, timing, and overall quality. Many government agencies have used Facebook Live with graet success. If you want to learn more about this terrific engement tool, Facebook offers great technical and practical information to guide you through your first broadcast.

Tricia S. Nolfi is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

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