The first time we used Facebook Live, all I had to do was put my mobile phone on a tripod, make sure I had a strong Wi-Fi signal, open the Facebook app and start broadcasting. Within seconds, we noticed that not only were absent members online and engaging with us virtually, but their friends, as well as people around the world, began tuning in, too.
7 Reasons to Use Facebook Live
1. Facebook Live connects us to hundreds of people who have never been to our church. The gospel is preached in their homes.
2. There is a ton of social engagement, sharing and commenting during and after the service that allows us to follow up later.
3. Our church members who watch live are able to engage in the comments and share with their friends as the service progresses.
4. Facebook Live is easy to set up.
5. Facebook Live videos play automatically in your friends’ news feed and then are saved on your personal timeline. A high-quality version can also be saved to your mobile device later.
6. Facebook Live is free. Churches have been streaming their services for years, but now virtually anyone in any setting can do it.
7. Facebook Live allows members who can’t come to join in.
How to Get Started
Make sure you have:
- A mobile device (with plenty of battery life)
- A Facebook account
- Facebook’s mobile app
- A strong Wi-Fi signal
- A tripod with a smartphone mount
When you are ready to go live, simply click on “Update Status” in the Facebook app on your mobile device. Check to see that your post will be public and then hit the Facebook Live button. You’ll then have the option to give your video a title. You can use hashtags and even tag friends in the title to get more engagement. Before you click “Go Live” button, don’t forget to flip the camera (button on the top right) so that it’s facing the action. Once you are live, you will see how many people are connecting to the feed and comments coming in as they happen.
7 Tips for Success
Our first attempt at broadcasting live showed us some things we like and some things we don’t like about this platform. For starters, Facebook Live takes a lot of battery (we ran out halfway through the sermon). Plus, I could only share a live video from my personal profile. Here are just a few helpful tips:
1. Make an announcement online before you go live.
Announce you are going live on your church’s Facebook page, your personal Facebook profile, Twitter and any other social media profiles and provide a link, something like “Join us LIVE in 5 minutes as we continue our series on #JonahAndTheCity.”
2. Make an announcement offline before you go live.
Create a slide that gives simple instructions on how to check in and share the live stream with friends who aren’t there in person. Add this slide to your pre-service announcement loop in your presentation software. Make sure to provide viewers with all the information they need: the link, hashtag and maybe a sample post.
3. Recruit community managers to engage with viewers in real time.
Ask someone familiar with Facebook to sit in the back with a laptop, go on their own Facebook profile and start engaging with the live viewers during the service. These community managers can welcome new viewers, share quotes from the sermon, provide links to online giving during the offering and offer additional resources in the comment section as the service progresses.
4. Develop a script for your community managers.
Draft tweets and posts in advance that can be shared at certain times during the service and give them to your community manager to use at the appropriate times. This ensures that the messaging is consistent and that there are plenty of shareable quotes for the duration of your service.
5. Create an online “guest card” for viewers to fill out for more info.
As a part of the script that you provide to your community managers, create a simple form online to gather email addresses. Simply share the link toward the end of the sermon and invite people to sign up for email updates. Optionally, you can point them to the “subscribe” button on the live Facebook video stream and Facebook will alert them to future live videos from your page.
6. Edit the final video after the service is over.
A quality video will make a good impression on future viewers.
7. Follow up with people who engaged in the comment section.
With very little effort, you can have dozens (if not hundreds) of “first-time visitors” to your worship gathering. You won’t have detailed information on your virtual guests (unless they give you an email), but you can at least follow up and reply to those who commented. Encourage your members to follow up with any of their friends who watched live and use the opportunity to invite them to church the following week.
Nathan Creitz is church planter and lead pastor of City Life Church in Queens, New York. This article was originally published at NathanCreitz.com.