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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:

  1. Plan Ahead. Develop your talking points before going live. Know what you want to emphasize in each broadcast.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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?

Jonathan Howe serves as Director of Strategic Initiatives at LifeWay Christian Resources, the host and producer of Rainer on Leadership and SBC This Week, and the managing editor of Jonathan writes weekly at on topics ranging from social media to websites and church communications. Connect with Jonathan on Twitter at @Jonathan_Howe.

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