15 essential tips for mastering Facebook Live

Facebook Live is quickly becoming the hottest new live-streaming platform for both publishers and regular people. From Buzzfeed’s exploding watermelon to Dallas-based tattoo artist Liz Cook who streams ink sessions in real time and that snake expert whoextracts venom from animals (note: omg), broadcasters — both professional and amateur — have flocked the platform.

While Facebook Live users are still trying to figure out what resonates most with their viewers (and how to get those view numbers up), some best practices are emerging. There are also some essential tips and tricks — like how to find out when most of your followers are online.

Mashable spoke with Facebook about what tactics seem to be working. Before we dive into the advanced stuff, though, here’s a crash course on what you need to know before going live:

Getting started

Pick your poison: While Facebook Live is available on both iOS and Android, you’ll have the option to broadcast both vertically or horizontally when using an iPhone. Make the decision ahead of time so you can best show what you’re trying share to the world.

Change perspectives: For those who want to add more context and go between showing yourself and surroundings, you can always switch between your main camera and selfie view during a broadcast.

Take care of your comments: One of the best parts of Facebook Live is that questions and comments from viewers appear on screen, but you should know you cant to delete ones after the broadcast, and you can keep the conversation going responding afterward.

If you lose the connection, don’t lose it: Pick a spot with strong connectivity and if you happen to lose Wi-Fi (or cellular service), don’t freak out. Facebook Live will pause and try to reconnect. If you’re still out of luck, the existing broadcast will be saved to your Page — and you can always delete it if you’re not satisfied with the result. The “Go Live” button will be grayed out until connectivity is good.

Best practices

Now that you’re ready, here’s what to keep in mind when going live:

Write a (good) description: Yes, this sounds pretty basic, but a good description will often mean the difference to someone deciding if it’s worth it to tune in. Use personality in the wording so it’s aligned with your brand or who you are, and keep them short. You can edit them after the fact, too — especially useful if the broadcast takes a different turn by the end. While viewing the video, select the “Options” section at the bottom and then “Edit this Video.”

Promote, promote, promote: A Facebook spokesperson said those who tease upcoming Facebook Live broadcasts tend to have higher viewership than those who don’t.

Pick the right time! Are afternoons better than mornings? What about late at night? While there’s no magic answer for everyone, you’ll eventually find the sweet spot for your audience by experimenting with different times. A good place to start is your Facebook page’s Insights section: You’ll be able to see when most of your followers are online, which will more than likely correlate with when your broadcast’s reach is highest.

Consider what you’re doing, too, and when the content would be best digested: a bake-along show may work better in the evenings when people are home, while a Q&A interview could have more reach during the workday (i.e. people can listen to the discussion in the background on their computers). The longer you broadcast, the more likely your friends and followers are to discover your video live — aim to broadcast for more than 10 minutes. But! Don’t overdo it or drag broadcasts out any longer than they need to be.

Plan better: Don’t go into a broadcast without a plan — know what you want to do in the video, whether it’s a few key talking points or to have a few questions ready ahead of time in a Q&A, in case the comments slow down.

Get personal: Beyond just reading comments and questions, say hi to viewers by naming them personally and encouraging them to stay engaged with follow-ups and suggestions. It’ll make everyone feel more part of the experience.

Invest in some equipment: No one wants to watch a shaky live stream. Consider buying a tripod or other professional-level tools, especially if you’re taking viewers on a tour. You can also get creative by putting your phone against a stack of books or against a coffee mug. Be sure to check the shot before going live.

Get the lighting right: Pick a spot with good lighting or go outside, but don’t have the light directly behind you (it’ll wash you out).

Sound good: Too many broadcasters overlook sound. If you’re in a loud space, you’re going to need some kind of external microphone to make sure your viewers can actually hear anything.

Give context: When starting a broadcast, be sure to introduce yourself and what you’re doing — if you’re hosting a live fitness show, for example, let everybody know what today’s focus is and don’t forget to mention it a few times throughout the broadcast for those joining late.

Be authentic: It may be obvious to some, but the more real you are, the more viewers will identify with you and care about what you’re doing.

Tie a bow on it: When ending a broadcast, pause for a few seconds until you hear the “ping” sound that signals you are no longer live. Don’t jump the gun and sign off too soon, or there could be awkwardness.

Another heartwarming Snapchat story love story took place at Utah State

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Forget the days of old-fashioned meet-cutes or looking for love on popular dating apps like Tinder — the new place to find romance seems to be on college Snapchat stories.

The world first learned of Snap Story love stories after two University of Wisconsin students, Reed Bjork and Abby Diamond, captivated the student body with their tale of immediate attraction and journey to find each other…on Snapchat.

Now, the social media world is gushing over a similar romantic saga that took place on the Utah State Snapchat story.

The “Epic Night Utah State” Snapchat Story began with a girl spoiling movies and developed into a suspenseful love story between two students, Trevor and Madison.

This is Spoiler Girl:

After she outraged students by spoiling classic films like Shrek, students added their reaction snaps to the Campus Story.

She then challenged her “haters” to meet her at the library and one student (pictured below) suggested settling the issue with an “epic silent dance battle in the library.”

The Snapchat Story then jumped to a student named Trevor who claimed to be “studying” for his Investment Banking final — though we all know he was busy procrastinating.

After a few more comments for Spoiler Girl, a mystery girl in a car responded to Trevor’s snap, wishing him good luck on his final. Her friend and wing-woman in the back seat ended the snap by exclaiming, “You’re hot!”

One very intelligent and romantic boy then suggested that Trevor and the mystery car girl should date. He proposed that the two should meet up at the library at the established time and deemed their exchange “the cutest thing he’s heard.”

On the way to his Investment Banking final, Trevor gave the “mystery car girls” a shoutout and invited her to meet up for ice cream afterwards to celebrate.

“Mystery car girl” revealed herself as Madison and invited Trevor to meet her at the library for the dance battle. Naturally this excited all the romantics on campus.

After some pondering, Trevor decided there was no reason for the two lovebirds to wait until the dance battle and suggested they meet earlier for ice cream. Madison excitedly agreed.

The campus was so excited that they began to search for the Snapchat lovers, and much to everyone’s delight, Trevor and Madison’s meeting was captured on the Campus Story.

As promised, the dance battle took place at the library, and Trevor and Madison were given the honor of judging. The two shared their fist kiss at the battle as the campus cheered them on

 

And thus concluded another beautiful Snapchat love story.

You know what they say, “A couple who meets on Snapchat and judges a silent dance battle in the library together, stays together.”

Sheryl Sandberg honors single moms in beautiful Mother’s Day post

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In an emotional 1,100-word Facebook post published Friday, Sheryl Sandberg reflected on her first year as a widow and single mother.

The Facebook COO, who lost her husband Dave Goldberg in May 2015, describes a “new and unfamiliar world” of trying to succeed at work without a partner at home, struggling to comfort her grieving children and regularly encountering reminders, like father-daughter dances, that her family will never be the same.

“Before, I did not quite get it. I did not really get how hard it is to succeed at work when you are overwhelmed at home,” Sandberg writes in her post. “I did not understand how often I would look at my son’s or daughter’s crying face and not know how to stop the tears. How often situations would come up that Dave and I had never talked about and that I did not know how to handle on my own.”

While the post was deeply personal, Sandberg devoted much of it to honoring single mothers and describing the challenges they face.

“For many single mothers, this is the only world they know,” Sandberg writes. “Each and every day they make sacrifices, push through barriers, and nurture beautiful families despite the demands on their time and energy.”

Sandberg, who authored the 2013 bestselling book Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, even gave credit to critics who said she didn’t fully understand or account for the choices single mothers must make when trying to tend to their children and excel at work. She writes:

In Lean In, I emphasized how critical a loving and supportive partner can be for women both professionally and personally—and how important Dave was to my career and to our children’s development. I still believe this. Some people felt that I did not spend enough time writing about the difficulties women face when they have an unsupportive partner or no partner at all. They were right.

Sandberg, however, didn’t stop there. She marshaled statistics to illustrate the tough odds single mothers labor against, including the fact that 35% of them experience food insecurity and 46% of families headed by black and Hispanic single mothers live in poverty.

Sandberg highlights the story of one San Jose, California, mother who works two jobs and must choose between groceries and paying her cell phone bill. Both are essential, she writes, because without the phone, her son won’t be able to call his mother at her second job to say he’s arrived home after traveling through their unsafe neighborhood.

“Single moms have been leaning in for a long time—out of necessity and a desire to provide the best possible opportunities for their children,” Sandberg writes.

She criticizes the American stance on issues like paid parental and sick leave as leaving families to “fend for themselves” and concludes the post with a call to “rethink our public and corporate workforce policies and broaden our understanding of what a family is and looks like.”

Sandberg’s strong convictions and empathetic approach will likely quiet some of her critics, particularly if she continues to advocate for all single mothers and their families — and she seems poised to do just that.

“We need to understand that it takes a community to raise children and that so many of our single mothers need and deserve a much more supportive community than we give them,” she writes. “We owe it to them and to their children to do better.”

Strangers help bride get new dress after hers was lost in massive wildfire

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Inevitably, a lot of things can go wrong in preparation for a wedding, but having one’s wedding dress burn up in a massive wildfire just days before the nuptials is pretty much the worst case scenario.

That was the devastating reality faced by Canadian bride Elise Boissonneault, who is scheduled to be married this weekend in Toronto, and whose wedding dress was destroyed, along with the bridal shop where it was purchased, by the raging wildfires that have been burning through Fort McMurray in Alberta for the past week.

Though Boissonneault and her fiancé were evacuated from their home in Fort McMurray along with tens of thousands of others, they chose to go forward with their wedding as planned. And thanks to the power of the Internet and the kindness of strangers, Boissonneault got a replacement dress.

The effort to find Boissonneault another dress similar to her original one was spearheaded by her friend and wedding photographer Alex Neary, who posted about Boissonneault’s dilemma on Facebook and within hours received offers from hundreds of strangers to loan or donate their used wedding dresses.

Businesses chimed in to offer their services as well, and when Boissonneault arrived in Toronto Thursday, she was taken by Neary to LeaAnn Belter Bridal, which lent the bride not one, but two gowns — one for the ceremony, and another for the reception.

“You don’t expect this to happen and then for people to put out this much love and support … it’s crazy,” Boissonneault told Toronto’s CBC News.

In other good news, Boissonneault learned her home had been spared from the wildfires, and she told the CBC she plans to help those affected by the devastation when she returns to Fort McMurray.

Facebook is testing a feature that lets you find more Groups

Whether you’re looking for parenting tips or the best new restaurants in your neighborhood, Facebook Groups is useful for finding virtual communities around various topics.

Now Facebook is testing a dedicated “Discover” feature within the Groups section, making it easier to join conversations.

A new tab will let you browse public and closed Facebook Groups by category, including Groups your friends are in and local Groups. You can see what’s gaining traction in your circle, and in your city.

As a randomly-selected Facebook user in the test group, I can confirm the Discover feature is easy and intuitive to use. Indeed, it’s a surprise it’s taken this long to roll out something like this.

But the effort makes sense: it’s not unlike Twitter and Instagram’s new discovery efforts.

Discover offers 25 different categories such as parenting, sports, food, buy & sell, networking, animals & pets, hobby & leisure, support & comfort and travel. Each topic page highlights the top suggested Groups based on popularity and who you may already know that’s a member.

Previously, you’d have to type keywords into the search bar to find related Groups or wait until you were invited to join one by a friend.

While only a select group of people have the feature right now, Facebook told Mashable it will roll out more broadly in the near future.

Beyond Facebook’s news feed, Groups is the most-used feature within the app. About one billion people use Groups each month.

Big Periscope updates: Streaming from drones, videos won’t disappear

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Facebook Live might be the hottest live-streaming app right now, but Periscope is raising its game to meet the new challenge.

The Twitter-owned streaming app gave Mashable a look at three new features it plans to roll out over the next few weeks. The service will soon support streams from drone cameras as well as let all users automatically save their broadcasts permanently on the service (which rolled out in beta last week). Also on deck: New search and sharing features that’ll make it easier to find good things to stream.

Just a few weeks after Facebook announced it will support live streaming from DJI’s popular drones via Facebook Live, Periscope is doing the same.

The integration with DJI drones will be similar to how the Periscope already works with GoPro cameras. Drone owners will need to pair their iPhone (no word on if there will be Android support) to their drone’s remote and Periscope will pull in the video feed. And, as with the GoPro integration, you’ll be able to switch between your iPhone’s camera and the drone’s during the broadcast. (You can also switch between a GoPro, if you have one connected.)

Periscope is also slated to get new search and sharing features. Search will sort broadcasts by topic (based on — what else? — hashtags) to make it easier for people to find streams about topics they’re interested in. Users will also be able to add their own stream to a particular topic from the search results.

Additionally, Periscope will finally let you save all your videos — permanently. Once that update is out, all broadcasts will be saved automatically, including all your viewers’ insightful comments and hearts. You’ll still be able to manually delete videos after the fact, and if you prefer ephemerality, there will be an account setting to make broadcasts disappear after 24 hours.

The updates will certainly be welcome to many broadcasters, since there hasn’t been a good way to save their content within the app. Periscope first added a beta version of asave feature last week, but it’s a bit clunky, requiring broadcasters to add a #save hashtag to the title of their stream.

The new search and sharing features are both rolling out “in the coming weeks,” according to the company.

Tweetbot has a cure for Twitter’s 140-character limit woes

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Sometimes, what you have to say just doesn’t fit in 140 characters. For those occasions, Twitter users have resorted to several makeshift solutions: Some are marking their related tweets with numbers (1/7, 2/7, etc.), creating so-called tweetstorms, and others are simply replying to their own tweets, which has to be done manually in Twitter’s official app.

Now, popular iOS/OS X Twitter client Tweetbot has a solution called Topics. Introduced in the 4.3 version of the app, Topics let you easily tweet a group of related tweets, automatically adding the same hashtags, if need be.

It works as follows: When you tap on the Compose button on your iPad or iPhone, tap on the gear button and create a new Topic by tapping on the “+” button. Add a title and an optional hashtag and hit Create. Afterward, you’ll see the name of your Topic above your tweet’s content. Every subsequent tweet will then automatically be added to the same Topic, and will be added the same hashtag. When you want to resume your normal tweeting, tap the Close button on the left of the Topic’s name in the Compose screen.

Tweetbot stores Topics in the cloud, so you can access the same topic on several different devices. Presently, these don’t include the Mac, as Tweetbot for OS X still hasn’t been updated with this feature.

Aside from the possibility of accidentally leaving a Topic on, the process definitely simplifies tweet storms and makes a nice little group of tweets. All the tweets in a Topic are highlighted in Tweetbots, but they also look good in the regular Twitter client and embeds.

Unfortunately, there’s no simple way to embed all the replies to a tweet on a website, so in this example you can only see the first two tweets. To see the entire Topic I created, gohere.

The latest update makes Tweetbot, which is already one of the best third-party Twitter apps out there, even better, especially if you’re a Twitter rant machine. The app is not free — the iOS variant costs $9.99, and the OS X version will set you back the same amount.

The feature comes several months after Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey squashed the rumors that Twitter will be dropping the 140-character limit.

“It’s a good constraint for us. It allows for of-the-moment brevity,” he said in March.

13 effective ways your startup can use Periscope to grow the business

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By now, most digital-savvy startups are not only popping up on Pinterest and Facebook, but also on Snapchat and Instagram. Visual and video-driven storytelling give startups a tremendous opportunity to reach new (and younger) customers. But how can entrepreneurs take full advantage of the live video platform, Periscope?

To find out, I asked 13 entrepreneurs from Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) what strategies are most beneficial for companies using the popular social app. Their best answers are below.

1. Gain investor interest

Blair Thomas

Periscope is unique in that it can be a very personal experience that puts you in the hands of someone who can show you the world — or something as small as the postage stamp on your company’s first shipment. Use this platform to bring a potential investor into your day-to-day; walk them through your life as an owner, and let them see your passion and competency at work.

— Blair Thomas, First American Merchant

2. Target millennials

Pratham Mittal

A disproportionate number of users on apps, like Periscope, are millennials. Not only are they watching in significant numbers, but they are highly engaged as well. With very little competition for attention today, Periscope can be extremely lucrative for brands targeting the youth.

— Pratham Mittal, VenturePact

3. Launch products

Adam Steele

I expect to see Periscope involved with a lot more product launches very soon. There are many companies already using live video to cover product launches or new store openings, because what better way to improve on that experience than to bring your customers along with you and turn an event into a short-term community?

— Adam Steele, The Magistrate

4. Showcase company culture

Jonathan Long

Consumers love companies that have a personality. Periscope allows any brand to let their audience grab a sneak peak at what they have going on behind the scenes. This type of access can help consumers develop that human element connection, which can quickly create a life long supporter. For a startup, these kinds of supporters can quickly help spread the word and become valuable brand advocates.

— Jonathan Long, Market Domination Media

5. Tell your company’s story

Joshua Lee

Periscope is a vast opportunity for business owners, top leaders and even frontline employees to connect with and reach new customers. It spotlights the human faces of your company. People like buying from other people, not faceless institutions. Tell the story of how your company came to be. What problem did you notice, and how did you fix it or stumble upon the solution?

— Joshua Lee, StandOut Authority

6. Host office hours

Aaron Schwartz

No matter what type of business you run, you have customers and partners who share questions and concerns. Periscope is an amazing way to engage your audience and give them information they can use. Hold “office hours” with fans, and give unscripted answers to any of their questions. They’ll feel more connected, and you’ll scale your ability to give support to your fans.

— Aaron Schwartz, Modify

7. Conduct better business analysis

Nicole-Munoz

Periscope Data is an amazing tool to create real-time dashboards for advanced reporting such as lead sources, daily opt-ins and an in-depth look at which website pages people are using to join email marketing lists. Internal teams should use this data to improve their business analysis to see what’s working, what’s not, and where there may be gaps in their marketing strategies.

— Nicole Munoz, Start Ranking Now

8. Host demos and tutorials

Nicolas Gremion

Periscope lets you become a virtual salesperson, giving you the power to not only present your new product or service, but also demo it. This is why channels, such as HSN and QVC, are so much more powerful than catalogs. When you have a real personal showcasing, explaining and demonstrating a product, it elevates it to a level that simple text and images cannot do alone.

— Nicolas Gremion, Free-eBooks.net

9. Host an online event

Drew Hendricks

Sometimes customers or prospects cannot make it to your physical event or seminar so you can use Periscope to create a live event with a Q&A session. This provides a way to get as many target audience members to your event regardless of location. Plus, it can be free or very low-cost, making it even more inviting.

— Drew Hendricks, Buttercup

10. Attract talent

Brennan White

If you have a fun place to work, you have a leg up on the competition when attracting talent. However, a lot of times “fun place to work” isn’t quantifiable or easily described on your careers page. Sometimes it’s the softer things — the rapport among the team, the sense of humor, office pranks, etc. — that really make work fun. Periscope is a great way to highlight that.

— Brennan White, Cortex

11. Fundraise

Charles-Moscoe

We have had significant success using Periscope almost like a webinar for hosting fundraising events. It is a very useful tool that every startup should utilize. It is also useful for marketing and getting your message out across all channels very quickly.

— Charles Moscoe, eFin

12. Get customer reviews

Derek-Capo

Being able to talk with your customers live about a product and showcasing it to potential customers is probably the best advertisement you can buy. Whether you hold sessions interacting with the product, or ask the customer what they thought about the service, it will get the people following you to want to purchase faster.

— Derek Capo, eFin

13. Demonstrate your product or service

Obinna-Ekezie

Use it to demonstrate your product or service. If possible, be creative, even if it means being a bit funny or odd. Think about successful Super Bowl commercials — often the plot of the ad has only an indirect relationship to the product or service. Don’t be afraid to go outside the box and entertain as a primary outcome.

British police blur sheep’s faces on Facebook to ‘protect’ their identity

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Seeing a picture of someone with their face blurred on TV or social media isn’t exactly uncommon — but it’s not often such identity protecting measures are extended to our woolly, four legged friends.

In a recent post on social media, an officer working for West Midland Police’s Central Motorway department shared an image of three sheep that had been rescued from suspected poachers. Confusingly, though, the sheep’s faces had been blurred.

The image has since been deleted, although the incident has been written about on West Midlands Police’s Facebook page, and the picture is still available on their website.

A spokesperson from West Midlands Police explained to Mashable that the blurred image was originally uploaded by an officer. After receiving requests for the original they took the blurred version down while trying to contact the officer, but due to them being on annual leave they were unable to do so.

The suspected thieves, meanwhile — who were apprehended after police saw them driving a Ford Galaxy with the sheep in the back — are currently in custody.

“It’s not every day we recover live stolen property, but the lambs seem none the worse for their adventure,” said Inspector Paul Southern.

“We are now trying to trace where they came from and are asking farmers to check their flocks to see if they have any missing.”

There are thousands more bots for Facebook Messenger in the works

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Facebook Messenger will soon get a lot more crowded.

There are more than 10,000 developers building bots for Facebook’s messaging platform, Messenger’s head of product said in an interview Tuesday.

Speaking in an interview at TechCrunch Disrupt on Tuesday, Stan Chudnovsky said there are “tens of thousands” of developers currently working on bots for the platform. That represents a huge increase from the few dozen bots that initially launched.

While it’s not clear how many new bots Facebook’s launched since last month’s F8 developer conference, it would appear the social network is now ramping up the process for developer partners. Messenger’s director of product management Peter Martinazzipreviously told Mashable the company opted to take a slow approach initially in order to help protect against spam and other security concerns — among other reasons — but it makes sense Facebook would be looking to accelerate the process for developers now that they’ve had some time to learn from the early launch.

Despite the initial hype around Facebook’s new bot platform, the first wave of bots were largely underwhelming. Many were buggy and came off as spammy.

But Chudnovsky said that early hiccups are inevitable when building out a new platform. When asked if there was something about the initial launch he would do differently, if given the opportunity for a do-over, he said the team would have liked more time to iron out some of the details.

But, he noted that updates and improvements are much easier to make once Facebook is able to start learning about how people are engaging with bots. “You have to get out there in order to start learning,” he said.

The Messenger team is also “actively working on” creating an analytics system for developers so they can better track how Facebook users are engaging with their bots, according to Chudnovsky, though he didn’t say when it might become available.