By Jonathan Howe
Live video is not new for many churches. It’s possible that you’ve used Periscope, Meerkat, or Facebook Live at some point to promote an event or just to have fun. As Facebook Live has grown in popularity, I’ve increasingly been asked “Which should I use for my church?” The answer has now become obvious: Facebook Live.
While Periscope is a great app, Facebook Live’s account ecosystem, ability for later viewing, and additional interaction outside of the live video component makes it a far superior service.
As it was with Periscope though, the key to engaging with Facebook Live is developing a strategic approach. A random approach gets you random results. A strategic approach can inform, influence, and engage your church members and guests. To develop your strategic approach to Facebook Live for your church, consider the following:
- Plan Ahead. Develop your talking points before going live. Know what you want to emphasize in each broadcast.
- Keep it short. Five minutes may not seem like a long time, but when viewers are scrolling through their feed on their phone, they will move on quickly. Ideally, you want to keep Facebook Live videos to 3-4 minutes. Five minutes would be the max.
- Don’t jump right into the content. Because it takes time for people to jump into the stream to watch, consider the first 45 seconds of a Facebook Live video as the warm-up time. Use that time to allow viewers to join the stream before getting to the details of your video.
- Have a purpose. Don’t waste your Facebook Live time on content that isn’t important. Give your viewers important details and meaty content to keep them coming back to watch in the future. If you waste your viewers’ time, they won’t be as likely to watch in the future.
- Consider using simple props. I’m not talking about sock puppets or ventriloquist dummies—I’m talking about signage. Since you likely won’t have the option of lower third graphics like you would with a produced video, simple printouts with web addresses or important info easily provide calls to action for viewers.
- Give your video some personality. Have fun with your Facebook Live videos and allow them to be an extension of your ministry. Delivery matters. Boring delivery will hurt engagement and information retention—so will excessive energy in the delivery. Don’t go over the top with your videos, but keep the audience engaged.
Is your church already using Facebook Live? What other ways tips would you add?
We have effectively used live stream on Facebook to broadcast our worship services each week (out 11:00 am service, as well as Celebrate Recovery large group on Sunday nights). We have had a huge response from that, and are excited about learning more ways to use this service.
What type of mounting device are you using for the phone?
At Faith United Baptist Church we have started doing some of our services live on Facebook. I know from the correspondence I’ve had with those viewing they enjoy it. We never know who may show up some Sunday that started watching on Facebook.
I’ve seen one pastor use Facebook Live for their full service and thought that might be helpful for someone who may either be checking out the church service, or for those who are physically unable to attend, i.e., homebound, nursing home, etc. The length of the live video, even though it’s recorded for later viewing, might be helpful but not entirely practical.
I do like the suggestion that the content of the video should be about 5 minutes in length and would agree that it would help to catch a viewers attention, or interest.
Thank you for sharing this information and I’ll be looking out how this could be implemented where I’m currently serving as pastor. (www.magnoliachurch.net)
Thank you sir.
Thanks Jonathan!!! Great hindsight, insight and foresight.
This is a great discussion. We’re a new church plant in the Pittsburgh area. We’re not doing anything with streaming right now, but it seems that Facebook’s combination of cost (free), simplicity (a smartphone gets you online) and viewership makes it a game changer in the area of live worship broadcasting. Does anybody think Facebook will replace dedicated services for live worship streaming?
I bought a small tripod to hold my iPhone to get started. It worked well enough and the results from our first live stream were very positive that we will continue to make upgrades. https://productdaddy.wordpress.com/2017/10/11/ubeesize-portable-and-adjustable-camera-stand/