In April we wrote about the power of live video. Facebook Live had just launched to all users and we looked at how the platform worked and the promise it held for craft business owners.
Six months have passed since then and we thought it was time to revisit the topic. Many craft business owners have experimented with Facebook Live at least once or twice, and for some live video has become an integral part of their marketing strategies. Large craft brands are now recognizing the potential of live video as well and are working out sponsorship deals with broadcasters.
Although making a Facebook Live video is as easy as pressing the “go live” button, those who do it often have developed tips and tricks to make these broadcasts as compelling as possible, and to turn them into evergreen content that lives on long after the live recording ends.
First, like with most new social media platforms, it helps to get in on the ground floor (and although Facebook Live launched six months ago, there’s still time to do that as a crafter). For knit, crochet, and craft designer Vickie Howell, getting in early was important. “Everything else is saturated,” she says in reference to the other social media platforms. “I think I was one of the first people in craft to use Facebook Live to do a regular series.”
Howell got early access to Facebook Live because she has a verified Facebook page. (Here’s how to verify your Facebook page). She began recording live videos almost a year ago.
“Once it launched I tried it within 24 hours and was immediately floored by the engagement,” Howell recalls. “I was sitting in my car with gym hair and got 13,000 views. It blew me away.”
Howell has extensive experience as a television host and on-air personality (she was the host of Knitty Gritty on the DIY Network and Knitting Daily on PBS) that she applied to her live broadcasts on Facebook. She realized that establishing a schedule for the broadcasts would help attract regular viewers in much the same way that people look forward to watching their favorite television show. “I knew it needed a name and it needed to air at the same day and time each week. It needed that consistency,” she explains. Her Ask Me Monday broadcasts air at noon Central every Monday and she’s now aired 50 of them. A consistent day and time also allows you to post a tutorial or supplies list in advance so that viewers can craft along with you during the live broadcast if they’d like.
A consistent format for your broadcasts helps viewers know what to expect, but don’t be afraid to change it as you learn what works. Each of Howell’s live broadcasts includes a demonstration of a craft technique, a segment where she answers questions that have been submitted in advance, and a live Q&A session.
Craft designer and consultant Jennifer Perkins has also embraced Facebook Live and enjoys experimenting with different formats for her broadcasts. She’s done craft demonstrations and tours of her home decorated for different holidays. Recently Perkins invited a friend to her studio and they demonstrated leather tooling together on Facebook Live. That video currently has 13,000 views and is her most popular to date.
Before you press the “go live” button, take some time staging the backdrop that will appear behind you when you film. Attractive craft supplies like skeins of yarn, jars of pompoms, or stacks of fat quarters can create an inspiring set for your broadcast. Keep in mind that Facebook Live doesn’t give you the ability to control lighting and focus so it’s best to choose one light source (a window, for example) and keep the camera in the same position throughout the broadcast. Howell says now that she knows people are tuning in she’s taking more time to prepare. “Now, I wear makeup!” she jokes.
Check out what these craft businesses are doing on Facebook Live
Vickie Howell – knitting and crochet
Jennifer Perkins – general crafts and home dec
Kara Gott Warner – knitting and mindfulness
Maddie Kertay – quilting
Margot Potter – life as a woman over 50
Melanie Ham – general crafts
Cheryl Sleboda – quilting
Victoria Findlay Wolfe – quilting
Debby Brown – quilting
Brenda Schweder – jewelry
Still, the immediacy and authenticity of live video does take the pressure off. As Howell says, “The expectation of low production quality is a huge benefit. This is something I can do in my home studio with no editing and no graphics. It’s quick and dirty and I think it makes people feel we’re just one step away from hanging together.” Perkins finds the same appeal. “It’s easy. The beauty of Facebook Live is that you don’t need anything. It’s not glossy and produced.”
If you’re nervous about filming live, try recording yourself on your phone first to get some practice. Look at the camera and talk directly to viewers, rather than looking down at your supplies. When you go live, don’t spend too long greeting live viewers. “If I see someone come on, I’ll wait to greet them at a natural time, but not constantly,” Perkins says, noting that excessive greetings can be boring for viewers who watch the replay.
The back camera on the iPhone has better resolution than the front “selfie” camera and is therefore the choice of many Facebook Live presenters. Since you can’t see comments and questions as they come in while using the back camera, put an iPad next to you to monitor those, but keep in mind there will be a few second delay. If you’d like to invest in some pro equipment Howell recommends this microphone. Also try a phone mount that screws onto your tabletop or a tripod that’s made to hold a smartphone. If you’re investing at a more serious level, the Mevo camera and app allows you to capture multiple camera angles at once.
Facebook Live is a great tool to easily create evergreen content for your blog and other social media channels. Both Perkins and Howell repost their live videos on their blogs and YouTube channels to get more traction after the live broadcast is over (watch this tutorial to learn to download a Facebook Live video as an MP4). Perkins reposts hers to LinkedIn as well.
As the months have gone by, big brands are catching on to the possibility of live video for sponsorships, although it may still take some educating on your part to show them the potential it holds. When Howell pitches to companies she now includes Facebook Live among her offerings. “I give them different options. They can sponsor the podcast, I can blog about their products, or I can demo it during an Ask Me Monday,” she says.
“We’re starting to see a shift from the value being in fully produced videos to the value being in live, too,” says Vickie Howell.
If you’re ready to begin forging brand relationships on Facebook Live, tag companies whose products you’re using during a broadcast to make them aware of what you’re doing. Post the “show notes” as the first comment under the video with links to products you reference. If you’re ready to take on official sponsorships you’ll need to have a verified page and use the Facebook handshake to note that the content is sponsored. Doing so will also give your sponsor access to the viewer analytics so they can evaluate the success of the partnership.
Although Facebook Live videos tend to get more interaction than typical Facebook posts, they’re still subject to the algorithm which limits what shows up in someone’s feed. Howell has chosen to pay to “boost” each of her Ask Me Monday videos. “I take some of the sponsorship money I get and put it towards boosting the post so that more people see it,” she explains. Viewers who watch the video later on her blog count toward her total views on Facebook as well.
One of the best ways to brainstorm ideas for your own Facebook Live broadcasts is to watch what other people are doing. Check out this map to see who’s live right now (the size of the dot indicates how many people are watching). See what’s working and think about how you might adapt it to your craft and business.