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When social media erupted ten years ago, something major happened between people. As 6 degrees of separation began to shrink, so did true human connections. Face to face interactions joined the ranks of slang acronyms like LOL, JK, BRB, and IRL. Text messaging and Facebook Messenger took the place of a good old fashioned phone call.

But still - brands had a huge opportunity. They could reach more people, faster, and be connected directly with their most relevant audience like never before. Brands were no longer a logo, TV commercial and in-store experience. Brands became a Facebook profile, a tweet, an Instagram photo and a stack of sharable videos and articles. Brands embodied stories, personalities, and experiences like never before.

Personal branding opportunities went beyond popular athletes and politicians, it became something anybody could work towards, and gave brands access to massive growth in extremely short amounts of time, sometimes with little to no investment.

You could get to know other people (and brands) without ever stepping foot in the same room.

A Decade of Social Media Adoption

Fast forward to today. Through the oversaturation of Facebook, the explosion of Video, integration of Chat Messengers, and a tra-ga-bazillion new social media platforms that most of us haven’t even tried, and probably never will, technology has changed our lives.

Check out this Vintage Statistic from 2011:

“Users accessing Facebook via their mobile device has grown by over 200 percent. In early 2010 the figure was around 65 million, it now stands upwards of 200 million. This figure evidently reflects the rise in mobile and tablet usage around the globe. Interestingly, those who access Facebook via their mobile device are proven to be twice as active as those who don’t.” - Ecosultancy

Technology changes faster than humanity, leaving gaps in our abilities but also vast new opportunities that we really didn’t even know we’re around. Like the adaption of 5G.

What we can say about social media at the end of 2019, is that technology changed the way we interact with other people, but it never diminished the need for tangible, in-person experiences.

If anything, social media gave way to new kinds of in-person interactions. Maybe not as often, but I would dare to say bigger, better and more memorable ones.

Hello Coronavirus. Goodbye IRL.

I believe that a lot of us had big plans for 2020. Big and small brands alike had big social media marketing plans, too. They probably included some content development, maybe some digital ads and a dedicated customer service team to make sure our reputations are being upheld.

Here are some hard facts about marketing strategies for 2020 (via sproutsocial):

  • 89% of marketers use Facebook in their brand marketing efforts.
  • Live video is becoming a vital tool for social marketers, and 42% of them have already developed a strategy for Facebook Live.
  • Facebook generated $17.65 billion in total revenue in the third quarter of 2019.

Social Distancing has changed everything. Some of it temporary, and some of it will be here to stay.

As people are staying home, more content is being both generated and consumed. Buying behaviors have drastically changed and big spending is generally on hold. Digital ad costs have decreased and the types of products and services being advertised have changed.

With social events canceled and stay at home orders in place, you would assume that real social interactions are almost not happening at all. But that’s not true.

At the end of March, my mom had a birthday party. Normally we would have seen family in person for a meal together… my sister and her family, my grandparents, and maybe my brother, wife and kids. Instead, we all stayed home and joined family from across states through live video conferencing. I saw my aunt in the Northwest, my older brother in California, and my cousin in Texas whose husband and newest son I’d never met in person before.

My neighbor told us that they also had a live video birthday party for his mom just the day before, and saw family from 3 different states all at one time.

Video Birthday parties aren’t the only unusual activities happening during quarantine. Funeral homes are offering live streaming services for those who need to grieve, but can’t risk leaving their homes. When I called a popular video service, Vimeo, that has been around for over 15 years, I discovered that they, too, had just released live streaming service. When I finally got through to support, they explained that they had been getting at least 7 times the volume of sales and support calls than a regular workweek.

Live Video Doesn’t Replace the Human Desire for In-Person Meetings, but it Replaces the Requirement

We all know that we were made for human touch, eye contact and using body signals to communicate effectively. In-person interactions are inevitable, and humanity will return to it.

Technology will never be able to replace our humanity. But it is an exceptional method to fill the gap during a time when we have no other choice. And it will propel us into a future way of life that will never again be void of virtual interactions.

Learn about  immersive virtual tours that bridge the in-person gap in our free,  on-demand workshop.

Facebook Live: Embracing Your Humanity on Camera

Facebook’s live video feature has been available for all users since 2016. Only recently has it started to gain popularity. I have personally been asked by multiple individuals to learn the ropes of using Facebook Live, and specifically how to integrate multi-person conferencing into the platform.

The thing about Facebook Live is that ANYBODY can use it. At any time. You can use it every week, or you can use it every day - it is completely up to the user.

Unlike Youtube’s Live feature, which is also a really incredible opportunity, Facebook’s live is already built into a popular social networking platform, so you don’t have to do all the work to build an audience to gain video views.

One of my favorite Facebook live users is an attorney who goes live at least once a day to help break down laws that affect citizens in a way that regular people can understand them. Sometimes they are short, 1-2 minutes long, and other times he will spend an hour or more going through information. His audience has become so large that it is rare he has less than 10K views and over 100 shares. He does his shows from his office, from the parking lot, or literally wherever he is at the moment. He has done his shows in gym clothes, in a suit, and at home on the couch in a t-shirt.

Other live shows are more produced. Without apologizing for the shameless self-promotion, take a look at S+Marketing Live: Ask Us Anything - our weekly podcast style Facebook live show here at Story Collaborative. Sometimes we have a guest or answer audience questions - but we always have a format. But on a scale of 1-10, our show isn’t nearly as produced as some of the other regular live shows out there that include commercials and sponsorships.

Facebook Live pushes your comfort zone, even if you have camera experience. But most of us do not have on-camera experience, which might make you (and the rest of us) pretty uncomfortable. With a live audience, you don’t have the luxury of stopping and editing out the bloopers. You truly have to get used to being comfortable in your own skin and being “virtually” in front of others.

5 Secrets of Facebook Live

I believe it was Tom Rath (Strengthsfinder 2.0) who fed me the idea that if I really wanted something to happen, I had to “keep shipping” - the concept and rule of seeing new ideas through to completion.

Facebook live is like that.

I don’t have all of the secret formulas to making Facebook Live happen for everyone. But I do have a few tricks that will you see it through to completion:

1. Stick to a schedule

Make a habit out of being on Facebook live at the same time each week or each day. Regardless of what the schedule looks like - your audience will want to have an idea of what to expect. Can they rely on you to go live every day at 9am, or does your show go live on Fridays at 8pm? Maybe your customers have a regular show they expect but they also know that you go live throughout the week at various times.

2. Be yourself

I know it's cliche. But also completely true with Facebook live, and live video workshops for that matter. It's one of the only ways you are going to keep your audience engaged and help people to connect with you over digital media.

I will never forget coming to the realization that my strengths were far more important than my weaknesses - that in focusing on my building up my weaknesses I was actually taking away from the very things that made me who I was. Being yourself? Definitely a strength.

3. Choose reliable software

Obviously, anybody can go live on Facebook through the native software itself. For some, this might be the best option. But if you want to use screen sharing, invite guests onto your show, or do anything fancy with graphics like green screens or lower thirds, you have to use software. There are a large variety of options available - but I will point you to the first two: BlueJeans and Vimeo both have good Facebook live options at different price points.

4. Build Viewers with Facebook’s Sharing Options

There are two important features that you need to learn how to use if you are going to go live on Facebook: first, learn to invite your friends when the show starts. A lot of people who go live on the regular will let the live session run for a few minutes while their audience joins, giving space to say hello to folks and extra time so that they can invite more people. They don’t go into their main points until they are about 5 minutes in.

Equally as important is Facebook’s “Watch Party” feature, which allows you to start your live session on a page, group or profile - and share it with other profiles or pages at the same time.

Also remember to monitor your comments and try to engage with your audience wherever appropriate.

5. Know How to Talk on Camera

There are three types of Facebook live-ers. First, are those who don’t really prepare but they have an idea of what they want to say, almost like a rant session. Second, are those who script out everything and read from their computers. But third are those who prepare with talking points but still speak from what they know. Which of the three do you think is the easiest to engage with? I would go for door number three: be prepared and know what you want to say, but don’t read from a script - your audience will see right through it.

Integrating Facebook Live into your Content Marketing Strategy

The thing about tribes is that anybody can create one. As the most popular live video platform that also integrates with a social media network, Facebook live is the ideal vessel for building a group of followers that care about the content you put out.

But that’s only if you have a content strategy.

Facebook Live is for content creators and marketers. So if you don’t have content marketing in your strategy, you might need to look up “marketing trends in 1997” or “what is a weblog” in Google.

But once you do have a solid content marketing plan that includes things like… answers to your customer’s most frequently asked questions, some thought leadership pieces for your colleagues, photos of your products in use, case studies and white papers, or maybe a video series of your happy customers talking about your service.

There are a million things that can be included in your content strategy. The bottom line is that you should be producing content if you want to be found in search engines, be seen as an industry leader - and ultimately, be able to create and nurture leads. Learn more about content and strategies.

Facebook Live as a stand-alone tool may not actually work unless you have good, quality content to use.

A Final Word About Wardrobes

I’m going to cover this because I know we are all thinking about it. What do I wear (or NOT wear) on Facebook live?

While I can give you a pretty straightforward answer about wearing solid colors, staying away from bright yellow, and wearing a little extra makeup - that would not be a complete answer.

Here are a list of elements that you should consider if you want your show to feel and look more produced. You should record and test this in advance:

  • Wardrobe, makeup and jewelry: is it distracting on camera, or does it wash out your face?
  • Background environment: Do you have depth behind you, something interesting to look at? Is it dirty or messy? Does it feel professional and give your audience the feeling you want to achieve? And finally, is your face or body framed well, or does it look like there is something sticking out of your head?
  • Lighting and sound: Too dark or too bright? Too loud or muffled? Do you need a headset? You will probably want to record and watch this one.

If you aren’t going for a produced feel, you still may want to consider a few other things:

  • Use a tripod, wherever you are
  • Test your environment in advance
  • Look for decent lighting
  • Frame yourself so your audience doesn't have to look at your chin or forehead.

As we have said, technology will never be able to replace our humanity. But Facebook Live is an exceptional method that is here to stay and it will propel us into a future way of life.

Now is the time to start. Embrace your humanity, even on camera.

We believe in this so much that we a free, on-demand workshop about how to  build an immersive, effective virtual tour.

Jennifer Bailey

Written by Jennifer Bailey

Enchantress of marketing strategy, digital development and creative spell-craft at Story Collaborative. Among rolling green hills and peaceful forests, an enchantress lived a quiet life surrounded by children and nature. But this enchantress was just as comfortable in the wilderness of the internet as she was in the wilderness of rural Virginia. With deep roots in digital marketing, Jennifer Bailey has 15 years of experience in cultivating organizational growth through conversion optimization, web development, search engine optimization, content development, and social media.