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Facebook live has arrived – this is how to use it properly

Live streaming on Facebook is an art - and the company has some tips for making the most of the new feature

Doug Bolton
Thursday 21 April 2016 09:48
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Cute dogs are always a good subject for a live stream
Cute dogs are always a good subject for a live stream

Facebook is accelerating quickly into the world of live streaming, recently making it possible for all of the site's users to broadcast videos of almost anything to a huge audience.

The features has been in testing for a few months now, but it got a huge boost at the company's recent F8 developer conference - where CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced users would be able to stream from any device - even drones.

Apps like Periscope and the less-popular Meerkat have done mobile live streaming before, but Facebook's massive global reach will bring the technology to a bigger audience than ever.

The people dominating live video on Facebook at the moment are big media companies or celebrities - but there's no reason you couldn't become internet famous by yourself.

Starting a live video is easy - simply hit the 'new status' button at the top of the iOS or Android Facebook app, hit the live broadcast button (it looks like a head with waves coming out of it), write a short description, and tap 'Go Live'.

The live stream will then appear on the newsfeeds of all your friends, who'll be able to watch and comment as you broadcast.

Live videos can only last for 30 minutes (for most people), and if you manage to rack up any negative comments during that time, you can block commenters by tapping their profile picture and hitting the 'Block' button.

You can also start live videos visible only to members of certain groups or events, and it's now possible to add tinted 'filters' and drawings to your broadcasts - new features which arrived at the start of April.


Facebook itself offers some more tips for making the most of the feature (and getting the most viewers) - they suggest you tell people ahead of time when you're going to start broadcasting, so they can prepare questions and remember to tune in. This probably only applies if you're a celebrity, not an average joe.

Also be sure to mention your commenters by name - they'll be "thrilled", according to Facebook.

Trying out new formats, altering the lengths of your broadcasts and going live often are key, the company says. Having a strong data or WiFi connection is also important, unless you want your video to drop out.

The aim of the game is to grow your number of followers - when people hit the 'Follow' button under your streams, they'll get a notification next time you go live, building up your views and engagement with each video.

Live video is only going to get bigger as time goes on, so expect to see more and more streams appearing on your feed.

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