August 2016: Learn how to stream live video on the social network
Facebook has unleashed a raft of new features this week. It’s part of an aggressive attempt to get users watching and creating live video content on the social network. While online live streams have been around for more than a decade, they’ve never been as easy to shoot or view on a platform as massive as Facebook.
Here are some quick user-friendly tips for getting the most out of the new format.
How to Shoot
For now, you can only broadcast live videos from Apple or Android mobile devices. To start, open up the status bar as if you’re going to make a new post. In the bottom right corner you’ll see an icon of a human figure. That’s the “Live” button.
Press it, and you’ll get a chance to prep your livestream. You can choose whether you want the stream to be shown to everyone on Facebook, only your friends or just you. This setting seems to default to whatever audience you selected for your last post, so make sure to check it before you begin streaming. You can also write a description for your livestream during this prep phase.
Once your stream is going, other Facebook users will be able to comment on your video in real time. If you’ve made your video public, you can control who gets to comment on it. In Facebook’s mobile app, hit the “More” button in the lower-right corner, then “Settings,” then “Account Settings,” then “Followers.” There, you select “Friends” or “Public” to pick which group can comment on your videos.
Facebook offers some general tips for hosting a successful livestream. Tell people you’re broadcasting ahead of time so they know to look out for your video. During the stream, remind people to follow you so they get a notification every time you go live. Longer broadcasts tend to accumulate more viewers, so the company recommends streaming for at least five minutes.
Facebook is also incorporating Live streaming into groups and events, so it will be easy to share footage from a birthday party to people who can’t attend or stream a recreational sports league’s game directly to its Facebook group.
How to Watch
Like Facebook’s other video efforts, live video remains confusing to access on the social network. Sometimes, but not always, you’ll be alerted to a friend or Page going live via a notification. The company is building a video portal that will collect live content from friends and personalized topics of interest on a single page in its mobile app, but it hasn’t been launched to all devices yet. Live videos will also be attached to some trending topics soon.
The most straightforward way to sample the Live videos available right now is to look at this world map that shows hundreds of streams as they’re happening. However, the map is only available on desktop for now.