LIVESTREAM VS. FACEBOOK LIVE.
SHOULD WE GO FACEBOOK LIVE FOR OUR SERVICES? OR LIVESTREAM? OR BOTH?
Facebook Live has made an incredible impact for churches. There is really no comparison between view rates on Facebook Live compared to traditional livestreaming. Facebook Live wins every time. If you aren’t broadcasting your services on Facebook Live, you are one of the few. Going Facebook Live is totally different than signing up for a traditional livestream service. Most churches have actually canceled those livestream providers and now only broadcast on Facebook Live each Sun- day.
Why is it so different? Two words: social reach.
Connecting and interacting is so easy on Facebook Live. YouTube has a really great livestream option, but the interac- tion isn’t as good as Facebook. Facebook will notify you when your church has gone live, so you won’t miss it. And when someone is watching your Facebook Live, they can share it, comment on it, and interact directly with the church right there on the livestream. This gains views, engagement, and new followers.
However, before you decide to go live, and if your church has the resources available, you should invest into some tools and equipment to help improve your Facebook Live quality. It doesn’t always have to be a separate camera for livestream only. Some churches have already invested in high-end cameras that project up on the screens in the service. You can just tap into that same feed and use it for your Facebook Live broadcast. This gives you multiple angles and high-resolution quality. For the audio, you will improve your quality if you use a separate mixer board for the live feed. If you can’t afford to have a separate mixer system, then you can have your live feed come out of the same board as the main system, just with its own mix. A good method we have found is to dedicate four or five groups of inputs to a few separate channels that you mix just for your broadcast. You could, for example, send all of the drums and bass to one group, all of the other instruments and tracks to another group, vocals in a third group, and finally the lead pastor gets his or her own channel. If it is too tight to have both the Front of House (FOH) and the broadcast mixer behind the board at the same time, many contemporary digital mixers come with their own app. With an app integration, the broadcast mixer can manage their own mix from a different location in the building. This allows you to listen with ear buds and get a mix that is better suited for online streaming.
As churches progress, more people will want to focus their attention on delivering high-quality broadcasts. Soon churcheswill be more concerned with their livestream than their in-person experiences. It’s because the online numbers will likely surpass the in-person numbers. Once you get a look at the data on your Facebook Live, you will start to see that sometimes the number of people watching online is three or four times greater than those who actually came in person. Don’t fight it—you won’t win.
Instead, make your entire Facebook Live experience excellent.
Don’t just throw up any old raw footage, because this is the first impression a lot of people will get for your church. When your livestream is excellent, then you will start to reach more viewers than ever before.
One church in Atlanta that we work with has a very large online following. Their Facebook Live usually has well over 2,000 viewers throughout the service. Each Sunday they have a specific volunteer whose job is to engage with everyone within the comments. This person introduces him/herself to all of the people who join the Facebook Live, chats with them, and posts comments throughout the service. Over years of doing this, it has been a positive first impression for people. The livestream on Facebook is part of the top of your funnel. You should expect that most people watching are just testing the waters. Greeting them with a friendly introduction is a great way to build relationship and draw them in.
So don’t just worry about the service in your Facebook Live, but learn from our church in Atlanta and make the whole expe- rience interactive. Dedicate an individual or small team whose sole job is to produce the Facebook Live. Train them. Resource them. This is a big deal. Trust me, I know this sounds intense, and you don’t need yet another task on your plate. But the numbers don’t lie. These are real people who are ready to con- nect with your church, so make their experience an excellent one. The Facebook Live team can put together a five minute prerecorded video or live program before the beginning of the service each week to hook people in and get them to join the livestream. They can share announcements, do fun interviews, or strictly engage with people during this pre-service video. The team is also responsible for engaging with comments and interactions on the feed before and during the service, being a friendly and welcoming voice to any newcomer.
And finally, at the end of your Facebook Live, there should be a conclusion with a call to action like prayer requests, small group registration, or online giving. It does sound like a lot of work, and it is. However, when you think strictly about the numbers, this small Facebook Live team could be making an impactful experience for sometimes double or triple the number of people who came in person.
The numbers don’t lie: Facebook Live will be your biggest audience.