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Event marketing | 30 January 2017

Facebook Live for Event Marketers: The Complete Guide

Brandon Rafalson

Whether you work at a marketing agencies or are simply in the business of marketing events, Facebook Live is a platform businesses are quickly adopting. Since launching in February of 2015, Facebook Live has rapidly grown in videos recorded, viewers, and accounts broadcasting.

As the platform has grown in popularity, so has it grown in capability. Facebook Live already provides marketers with a means to connect to people via live experiences, but the most recent updates, like Live Contributors and Video Insights, take the live event marketing possibilities to a whole new level.

The Facebook Juggernaut

According to data gathered by UBS, Facebook Live has surpassed all other live video formats, including the former leader, YouTube. Given the reach of Facebook in comparison to other platforms, this doesn’t come as a surprise.


While YouTube boasts a monthly active user base of 1.3 billion, it is particularly popular among Millennials. The same can be said of Snapchat, and to a lesser degree Instagram. Millennials are a worthwhile demographic to target, but they’re just one part of a much larger audience that event marketers can hope to reach.

That’s where the extreme popularity of Facebook comes into play. Not only does the platform sport the largest user base of any platform, it’s also the most integral to its users. A study by the Pew Research Center shows 76% of respondents use Facebook on a daily basis. A big part of this daily use is interacting with friends and family, but people also use Facebook to interact with brands and like-minded professionals. Live video will play an increasingly central role in connecting people on Facebook.

The Live Video Movement

Facebook Live is the apex of a much larger live video movement. Across all platforms, live video is rapidly growing as a preferred medium for marketers and viewers alike. Here are just a few statistics pulled from a survey conducted by Livestream and New York Magazine:

  • In 2016, 81% of internet and mobile audience watched more live video than they did in the previous year.
  • 80% of respondents said that they would prefer to watch live video from a brand than read a blog
  • After watching a live video of an event, viewers are 67% more likely to buy a ticket to that event or one like it.

Oh, and according to that same survey, 78% of online audiences are already watching Facebook Live video. A number of brands (including Salesforce, Buzzfeed, and Hubspot) have already started using Facebook Live to boost attendance and engagement at their events, now it’s your turn.

Understanding The Basics

With Facebook Live, any person or Facebook page can live stream an experience for up to four hours. Meanwhile, the audience has the ability to share reactions and comments in real-time. Viewers can subscribe to be notified of future live videos posted by that person or page. Plus, video content is recorded making it available to viewers at anytime. Instead of creating ephemeral content, as is the case with Snapchat or Periscope, Facebook Live content is evergreen and can be utilized further down the line. One of the biggest advantages of Facebook Live video is that it receives a noticeable boost from Facebook’s algorithms in the News Feeds of your followers. If you’re struggling to get more followers for your organization, Facebook Live video can help you out.

Looking to build your event presence? Check out our epic guide on how to promote an event on Facebook.

Bells And Whistles

Given that Facebook Live is a relatively new property, it’s constantly being updated with new tricks and features. Below is an overview of some of the key features to help you boost your event marketing efforts.

The Facebook Live Map

One of the best ways of discovering other live video content is through the Facebook Live Map. The map visualizes who is going live and from where. Once someone is live, a blue dot appears in their relative geographic vicinity. By hovering your cursor over these dots, you’ll be able to see a preview of who is broadcasting, who is watching, and from where. In perusing the Facebook Live Map, you’re bound to find a number of soccer live streams, random people interacting with the app for the first time, and news agencies, but you’re sure to also find many creative uses of the app. For instance, a simple poll measured in Facebook reactions.


Live Reactions

You’re probably already familiar with the six reactions that you can use on regular Facebook posts, which include the heart, the laughing face, and the classic “Like”. Whenever a user reacts to a Facebook Live broadcast, their reaction is displayed in real-time on the video screen. This is a great way for users to be a part of the action and for broadcasters to see how their audiences feel. Similar to the above image of Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, reactions also provide a way to poll users. During a broadcast about an upcoming event, an event marketer could ask viewers to react with a laughing face or “like”, depending on what aspect of the event they’re looking forward to most.


With Facebook Live filters, the world is your canvas! At least the part of the world that is included in your broadcasting screen. Filters allow you to add special effects, one filter might render your recording in Black & White, while another might simply display the name of your event, similar to Snapchat Geofilters. This is huge for spreading the word of your event.


Widely popularized by Snapchat, masks allow broadcasters to overlay a (often silly) digital image onto their faces. These images change based on a broadcaster’s facial movements and are the perfect way to add some fun to Facebook Live video. Imagine using the below filter during an interview with an industry luminary. Well, maybe not that filter. It’s a little spooky.


Mobile or Web Browser

Most live video apps require you to broadcast from a mobile device. But this means that users need to have the Facebook app downloaded to their phones. I don’t know about you, but that’s one level of distraction that I cannot afford. Fortunately, Facebook is currently rolling out an update that will allow anyone to broadcast from any device. That means your laptop can now be your camera; your company office, your studio.

Live Contributors

Typically, if a brand wants to post a live video they have to be the ones to record it. Makes sense, right? But what if a brand wants its employees to record live videos from their personal accounts? The Live Contributors feature allows brands to assign streaming privileges to people without granting them additional admin privileges. This is perfect for event marketers who want to leverage the social power of their attendees to provide video coverage of an event.

Comment Pinning

Hopefully, users will comment on your Facebook Live broadcast while it’s occurring. As users comment in real-time, the sum of their comments will cascade downward in a feed. With the comment pinning feature, you can take comments that are especially insightful or flattering and place them at the top of the comment feed. One way that event marketers could use this feature would be to pin quotes or important takeaways from someone they are interviewing.

Video Insights

Facebook videos (both regular and live) have long had access to basic statistics related to reach, impressions, likes, etc. Now, Facebook profiles with 5,000 or more Likes will be able to access premium Video Insights on total minutes viewed, total number of engagements and more. Again, this will apply to both regular and live video, but will prove especially useful for event marketers looking to gauge success.


Crossposting of Previously Live Videos

Have multiple pages? You can now stream live videos to multiple pages at the same time. This is huge for event marketers who might have a parent company page and an event-specific page. It also means that organizers at agencies can live stream a video on their agency company page and on the client’s page as well.

Take for instance Hubspot’s Inbound conference. Now Hubspot can effectively double the reach of their live video content by posting it on both the Hubspot page and the Inbound page at the same time. But why stop there? Savvy event marketers may even be able to work with their sponsors to post live video streams on their web pages.

Facebook Live API

If you are already using another broadcasting medium (Livestream, etc.) or would like to use a professional camera for recording your broadcast, you can use Facebook Live API to bring the awesome features of Facebook Live into your experience. For instance, CNN collaborated with Telescope’s streaming platform Live Studio to integrate Facebook comments directly into Facebook live.

Event Marketing Facebook Live Examples

Buzzfeed – Corporate Dance Battle

Earlier in 2016, the news agency Buzzfeed gave those who follow the brand the opportunity to get an inside glimpse of the company. Three employees from Buzzfeed engaged in a dance battle that viewers could be watch in real-time. In between each dance segment, the MC of the dance off asked the employees to answer (often humorous) questions about themselves. Buzzfeed capitalized on the live nature of the video by placing the judgment of each segment of the dance battle in the hands of the live viewers, who voiced their opinions in the comment section. Event organizers could use video content like this to promote awareness of an event, bring in outsiders closer to a company brand, or engage in recruitment marketing. Additionally, organizers can use this sort of live video to engage attendees who aren’t able to actually attend the event.


Dreamforce – Behind the Scenes

Dreamforce is an annual event hosted by Salesforce. Recently, Dreamforce was expanded to include a series of satellite events on sales and marketing around the world. For each new location that Dreamforce visited, the company posted a new Facebook Live video and compiled these videos into a Facebook video playlist that people could watch later. This gave event organizers an opportunity to tell their story about what it was like organizing the event, to recap highlights and key learnings, and energized those who were interested in attending Dreamforce events. These viewers could field questions to Dreamforce organizers in real-time and were overall brought closer to the event experience. Plus, you can bet that those organizers who were interviewed by Dreamforce appreciated the opportunity to share their knowledge.


Tips For Getting Started

Promote live video in advance.

This is especially true if it is your first time posting one. The more engaging the post the better, but one of the best ways to promote a live video event is with a series of live videos. Work with a graphic designer to create beautiful materials. Share info about the video via Twitter, newsletters, blog posts, etc. Pin the Facebook Live announcement at the top of your event/company Facebook page.

Make sure you go live at the time you promise.

The magic of live video is that it occurs in real-time, when it is scheduled. Going on later than you have promised, may limit the willingness of potential viewers to stick around.

Write a catchy video description.

This is ultimately how a potential viewer will decide if they actually want to watch the video or not.


Optimize for discoverability.

When you are broadcasting, a red “LIVE” icon will show up in the top left-hand corner of your video thumbnail. However, once you’ve finished recording and your video is archived on your site, it’s difficult for viewers to tell what was a live video and what was not. To make it easier for users to find your live video  You can also include “live” as a video tag make things clear.  As of yet, Facebook is not using an icon to differentiate live video from regular video.

Respond to comments in real-time.

As demonstrated with the Buzzfeed Dance Battle, it is beneficial to respond to comments directly as it reinforces the behavior of having users engage with your content. More engaged viewers will stick around longer, will have a more memorable experience, and will ultimately boost the reach of your Live Video content.

Encourage users to follow for future notifications.

As we mentioned previously, viewers have the option of subscribing to your Facebook Live channel with a click of a follow button. This will help generate a larger audience for future live videos moving forward.

Encourage attendees to stream your events.

Even if you don’t end up making any of your attendees Live Contributors, you should still encourage them to livestream the event. The more people who are streaming your event, the more people who will see how awesome it is. Consider the below example where Jolene Creighton, editor-in-chief at Futurism, broadcasts live from CES and accidentally discovers a pretty cool Live feature…


Longer broadcasts yield more viewers.

This might not always be intuitive, but being able to create video that can last for more than a few seconds or minutes will result in more users and ultimately more reach.

Make use of filters and masks.

As mentioned above, Facebook Live offers an impressive selection of filters, masks, other tools to make your live video content more engaging. Use them!

Bolster your Wi-Fi.

If you plan on using Facebook live at one of your events, make sure that your wi-fi system can process the additional bandwidth. If need be, bring in an external broadband provider.

Wrapping Up: The Most Robust Live Video Platform Out There

All of the above features and more make Facebook one of the most robust live video platforms out there. Other platforms might have robust metrics or good reach, but for event marketers, none has the all-around utility and appeal of Facebook Live.

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