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Thursday, December 22, 2016

DON'T Use Facebook Live for your Live Stream Unless...

#Facebook #Live #NewsAndPolitics #Art #Video #GoLive #YouTube #Safety #Editing #SocialMedia #Instagram #Facebook #LiveStream #Stream #Blogging #GoLive #FacebookLive
       I recently tried live streaming on Facebook, and it let me down for a number of reasons. While I can see how it can be useful under certain circumstances, there are a few things you should be mindful of that you might not have expected. If you'd like to know what to look out for, and whether Facebook Live is right for you, read on.

       I did a lot of streaming on December 12th, to share some Christmas-time festivities that were going on downtown. When I looked back at them later, I found most of them terribly choppy, some of them incomplete, and all of them unavailable to me in my phone's files. It was a disappointment, but it was also a learning experience.

I learned that you should not use Facebook Live unless....

....You don't care about video quality.
Facebook automatically adjusts the quality of your video. It's probably based on your connectivity to their server, and your phone's capabilities. My phone is capable of taking some good video, and I had a decent internet connection at the time, so I wasn't worried about this. When I looked at my stream later, it was a blurry, pixely mess. Lesson learned.

....You don't plan on using that video for anything else.
Normally, when you record video through an app, you have a copy saved to your device automatically. Not so with Facebook Live! I was hoping to send video clips to some people who were not on Facebook, or perhaps post my vids to YouTube, but the fact that I didn't have any copy whatsoever saved to my phone made that virtually impossible. There isn't even a way to download the video from Facebook. I'd have to say that this was, hands down, the biggest disappointment for me.

....You have a Hulk of an internet connection.
I touched on this already, but it bears repeating. You need a super strong internet connection to make Facebook Live run remotely smoothly. My internet connection, in the place where I streamed from, is pretty good. I can usually watch YouTube, play Pokemon Go, and do any number of speed-related online tasks without lag or connection hiccups. Facebook Live, however, is apparently really demanding; and if it doesn't get what it wants, it punishes you by tanking your resolution, and cutting out chunks of video.

....You're only recording short clips.
One of my streamed videos was particularly long. I streamed for about an hour when I was playing guitar. When I got back to my computer to look it over, I found that it started skipping at around fifteen minutes into it, and stopped playing completely at around the 20 - 30 minute mark. That leaves me with only a tiny fraction of watchable (blurry) video, a big block of annoyingly chopped up video, and more than half of the video completely unavailable.

....You feel like hunting for your comments.
Comments on Facebook live streams work differently from normal facebook comments. They appear based on what point in the video you are at when you post the comment. Unless you've already reached that point in the video in your current viewing, they will not show up for you. This even applies to comments made after you are no longer live. That means, if you want to respond to anything after you finish the stream, you'll need to go through and hunt down these comments based on when they were made.

....You have a sizable Facebook audience that you wish to reach out to.
One positive thing about Facebook Live is that it does work to build an audience for you. Facebook users get notifications indicating when a page they're following goes live. A live post is more likely to get more views than a typical, un-boosted post. It might also be a good idea to "strike while the iron is hot," and use Facebook Live while it's still new, and Facebook is still putting forth an effort to promote it.

....You have a specific event to call attention to in real-time.
Sometimes, up-to-the-minute information is valuable in itself. Imagine you're waiting in line for a show, spreading the word about a charity event, sharing your thoughts on an election, or chasing some crazy weather. I'm sure you can think of several instances in which the liveness of live streaming adds to the relevance of the content itself.

....You are mindful of internet safety concerns.
Though I didn't personally have a bad experience with this, it's something that bears mentioning. When you go live, you're telling the whole world where you are, and what you are doing, at that exact moment. You're also showing them where you're not, which can make you a target for crimes like robbery. You should also be mindful and respectful of other people who may be caught in your stream. While it is usually legal to record people in public places, it may not always be wise. When in doubt, ask permission.

       All in all, though Facebook Live let me down the first time, I would be willing to give it another shot. Now that I know what to expect of it, I can take the ups and downs into account before deciding whether to go live. I encourage anyone else thinking of live streaming with Facebook to give it a test-run before using it for anything important. Facebook Live is just one of the many modern tools we have available to share our messages with the world. Use it wisely.

Thank you for reading! If you enjoyed this article, you may also like to check out some of my other posts. Here's what I recommend now:
Introducing My Etsy Shop
Brain Hacks to Stay on Track with your Diet
Online Art Theft & You

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