As any public relations professional will tell you, strategy, calculation and precision are ingredients guiding every decision that is made during a communications campaign. SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound) goals are set, objectives are established and tactics are identified to show how these goals and objectives will be accomplished throughout the duration of the campaign. A well established communications plan will help guide your efforts throughout the campaign, and a similar plan will also help achieve success using Facebook Live, the social media giant’s live streaming video feature. Facebook Live is now available to all Facebook users, pages and brands, and it’s important for social media coordinators and managers to develop a “Standard Operating Procedure” to help your organization remain consistent, efficient and prepared as you begin using Facebook Live to promote your brand.
The FWC Fish and Wildlife Research Institute has been exploring Facebook Live and discussing its potential benefits for promoting fish and wildlife research throughout the state of Florida. As the social media coordinator for the institute, I led efforts to create a framework for Facebook Live as it relates to the overall social media strategy for our brand. Over the past two years we’ve implemented more video into our content plan, and live video offers another exciting avenue to engage our audience in unique and interesting ways. To help other organizations that are making the leap into live video, I’ve included our new communication plan specific to Facebook Live. Instead of going in with guns blazing, we’re building a road map to help us effectively use Facebook Live as a vital brand building tool for years to come.
Facebook Live – Communications Plan for the FWC Fish and Wildlife Research Institute
Facebook Live lets people, public figures and pages share live video with their followers and friends on Facebook. This feature allows fans to connect with a page in real time by commenting, sharing, liking or reacting to a video as it’s being broadcast live. More information about this feature can be found on Facebook’s website: https://live.fb.com/about/
Before broadcasting live video on Facebook, a content and filming plan needs to be discussed, reviewed and approved by the section leader, field biologists and partners involved. Below is a list of steps that will be completed prior to a live broadcast:
- Identify and discuss reasons for wanting to do a live video and what the pros and cons will be.
- Describe what information will be included in the video and set the tone, style and structure of it. It could be a Q&A with a biologist, how-to videos, fish and wildlife workups, wildlife releases or other field/lab work happening in a controlled environment.
- Determine what you want the viewer to take away from the live video. Will it be purely informative, or is there a citizen science angle we can take? Is a call to action needed to engage the audience and encourage them to actively participate?
- Set objectives for the video and identify goals that will need to be met to accomplish these objectives.
- Create a loose timeline for the video. This ensures there is no confusion while the broadcast is live and everyone is on the same page while filming. Have an idea of how long the video will be prior to going live and try to keep it between 5-10 minutes. A plan shows viewers that we are prepared, but it’s okay to improvise and be as professional, helpful and responsive as possible based on what is happening in real time.
- Discuss potential problems that may arise during the live broadcast and develop solutions to address these problems.
- Develop social media content to promote live video opportunities prior to the broadcast. This could consist of short Facebook text posts, tweets, Instagram content in the hours or days leading up to a scheduled live broadcast. This builds awareness and anticipation for the broadcast and will encourage our audience to watch live at a certain date and time.
Constants – These components will be included in every live video we do
- Intro: Biologist(s) will begin the video by stating their name, position, field of study and mention the FWC Fish and Wildlife Research Institute so each live video remains consistent in structure.
- At least one biologist will be required to be on camera to discuss the research project and field work being completed that day. The biologist(s) should be present to answer questions from the public and go into further detail about the project if needed. The Q&A portion of the broadcast will be discussed during the planning stage to determine whether we will take live questions.
- A short summary of the study to begin the live video will give the viewer a better understanding of the scope of the research, why it’s important and how the fieldwork is being done.
- Time and location will be included in the intro to give the viewer a better sense of where and when the live broadcast is taking place. The 5 W’s (Who, What, Where, When, Why) is important to cover in each video because after the live stream ends, a copy of the video is saved to our timeline and can be viewed hours, days, months or years after the live broadcast has ended.
- Outro: Sign off each video by thanking the viewers for tuning in. Depending on event, provide info on wildlife alert hotline, call to action, safety tips, etc. Based on time constraints and the availability of the researcher, the broadcast may continue for a short period of time to answer questions from the public during the live stream. Say hello to commenters by name; the audience responds well to their questions being answered live. Encourage viewers to also leave written comments or questions so they can be addressed after the live stream concludes.
- The live broadcast will need to be filmed using a smartphone with IOS or Android operating systems.
- From Facebook: “Check the app to make sure that you have a strong signal before going live. WiFi tends to work best, but if you can’t find a nearby network, you’ll want a 4G connection. If you have weak signal, the ‘Go Live’ button will be grayed out.”
- One person from the communications office will be using a mobile phone to record the live video. This person can also serve as the “host” or “liason” between the viewers and the researcher(s). Someone in this role may ask the researcher questions, take questions from viewers and help facilitate the broadcast from start to finish. In other cases, the camera person will not need to actively participate in the video and will remain behind the scenes while the researcher(s) is on camera. Filming plans will be determined on a case by case basis.
- Briefly run over the filming/content plan with staff prior to broadcast as a refresher.
- Film the live broadcast, following the content plan and timeline as a general guide. There will be no script to make these videos as organic and natural as possible.
- Ask viewers to subscribe to live notifications at the conclusion of the broadcast. Remind your audience that they can tap on the Follow button on live videos and videos that were live so that they can get notifications the next time we go live.
- Discuss live video efforts with communications staff and researchers to try and improve the process for future broadcasts.
- Ask for feedback from all parties involved to gain a better idea of what worked well and what needs to be fixed. Our overall strategy with Facebook Live will change and improve as the trial and error phase progresses.
- Brainstorm ideas for future videos and determine how often broadcasts should be held.
- ·Study organizations, companies and partners using live video to keep up with best practices, new features and updates as technology advances. Closely following other pages and their live video efforts allows us to discover new and interesting ways to promote our research using Facebook Live.