How to Use Facebook Live: The Ultimate Guide

Every series on Facebook gives you the ability to create videos to be shared on the platform.

How to Use Facebook Live: The Ultimate Guide

In the old days, television offered a version of live conversation. People would go into their homes and each talk about whatever they wanted, sometimes for a while (women liked to talk about breast cancer), sometimes just for a few minutes (men talked about news they read in the newspaper). If that didn’t work, the on-screen talent would nudge the conversation in a different direction, however trivial.

The Internet was supposed to offer a version of that.

The great thing about the Internet was that any person or company could broadcast anything (even if it wasn’t about what anyone else was watching), no matter what medium the host used. But the Internet has also turned out to be unstable. The last decade has seen countless live events interrupted, or either canceled altogether, or abandoned.

Instead of traditional television (and a limited set of broadcasters), we now have Facebook Live. It’s not meant to replace traditional television — more like a complement to it. But if you want to be part of the conversation, you’ll have to practice!

Here’s what you need to know.

1. Get an account

To join the Facebook Live conversation, you’ll need an account. Any Facebook user can join a live video; just do it via the interactive feature. I didn’t get an account, but you could log in to a friend’s, which could save you a few minutes or hours.

2. Practice

The gist of the game is simple: You won’t know what you’re doing until you practice. Better practice now — you want to get the hang of things. We’ll say that you’re a business owner, and you want to be a true or imagined expert on a particular subject — like food safety. Some people will scoff at you, but practice first. You’ll keep experimenting with topics until you’re satisfied.

3. Introduce yourself

Along with your photo and an introductory tweet, you’ll want to introduce yourself with your “amigo.” This refers to anyone who’s watching who you think might join in, or who you think might want to, or who you think might already be watching but simply haven’t found the right link to watch you — a link that might be useful to a future participant. Ask one of these Amigos what they’re interested in.

Be careful — you don’t want to appear arrogant, too condescending or too precious. Please take as much time as you need to get this chat working well.

4. Ask questions

Let the Amigos ask questions — most probably about you — or respond with their own questions and comments. If you’re asking a question, you’ll want to be supportive of the other persons taking questions. The best questions will be the ones related to your experience. But of course they might not be the easiest or cheapest to ask. Try to find the toughest questions or the most interesting ones.

5. Let them answer

This is part of the game — the meat of it. But even that is a bit of an art:

It’s tricky to break down good questions into short threads that people can quickly follow and read (over a period of time). The best way is to use well-crafted talking points that the other person can read in their own time. If your question is relevant and important, it will be answered.

But don’t expect perfection. Sometimes, people respond very slowly and politely, but sometimes they are downright rude and sloppy. It’s not useful to spend too much time writing out a precise format for a natural conversation, especially if you’re only getting one chance to show how it works.

6. Be patient

At the end of the night, you’ll be able to talk with a number of people about your experience. If you’re at a party and you stumble into someone who’s new to the game, he or she might help you set up the video. The potential is great, and you just need to learn what works.

The game may last a couple of hours, or it may go nowhere. Remember that a couple of hours in the Internet age means only a couple of hours in the reality of your world. It’s hard to remember in time, but live conversation doesn’t need to be perfect — it just needs to be possible.

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