Category: Facebook

Lessons learned with Periscope and Facebook Live

I explained in my previous post how we came to start using live social video at William & Mary, now I’ll share some of the lessons learned from our first three broadcasts.

It doesn’t have to be a long planned out project

Our first two broadcasts were scheduled a week or so ahead of time. However, our most recent interview was put together in just a few hours. When all you need is a quiet-ish room, a good WiFi connection, and somewhere stable to put your iPhone, a broadcast can come together pretty quickly.

Have two people on camera if you can

Having two people on a broadcast makes things feel a bit more natural, and allows for some pre-generated questions if your community is quiet. For all three broadcasts we have had two people “on camera”. For the Periscope broadcast we interviewed Professor Settle and one of her research students together. This was great as they were able to interact with both each other and the audience asking questions. Plus, it showcased the relationship between our students and professors and how well they can work together. For the interview with John Dickerson we had asked for questions beforehand but did not receive any. We brainstormed questions in the days before, sent them to him so he had some idea of what we’d be asking, and then used those as the base of the interview the day-of. We followed a similar protocol for the interview with Professor Clemens.

Periscope may have been first, but Facebook Live is much more user friendly

Having comments not disappear is very useful, especially when the person running the broadcast is not the one on camera. For our first broadcast with Professor Settle, I was frantically writing down questions on a notepad as they came in on Periscope while someone else was keeping an eye on Twitter for questions. When something came in I’d raise my hand to get their attention and then read the question out loud off camera. It made things a bit awkward and honestly more stressful as I was afraid I would miss someone’s question.

Always download the raw video

Both Periscope and Facebook Live give you the option to download the raw video to your phone. As much as I’d like to trust these companies to seamlessly save the video for posterity, having a backup is always great. Plus, in the case of Periscope up until a few weeks ago, saving the video to your device was the only permanent copy of the broadcast. This also allows you to put the videos up on YouTube or another video hosting platform to use for other projects.

You must have good WiFi

Securing a solid WiFi connection was the biggest obstacle for us when we did the interview with John Dickerson. The show was being filmed in the historic Wren Building’s Great Hall which had weaker WiFi than Facebook preferred. Facebook won’t even let you start the broadcast if it doesn’t think your connection is sufficient. To ensure we had a good connection I found an ethernet port in a nearby room and ran cable to my MacBook and used that as a private WiFi hotspot to use during the broadcast and it worked great.

Stay stable with a tripod (real or makeshift)

A shaky video can be really annoying for your viewers, so try to avoid holding your device by hand if possible. A tripod is ideal but a makeshift one using books or office supplies will work just as well. The first time we used a file holder that could be placed on a nearby desk that cradled the iPad Air we were using for the broadcast. For the second interview we used a standard tripod with an iPhone 6 held by hand on top (that was a bit more precarious than I’d prefer, but worked nonetheless). For our most recent broadcast we commandeered a small clock stand and a large stack of books to get to our desired height and angle.

You don’t have to use special media equipment (but it’s nice if you have it)

For our first broadcast we used an iPad Air, for the following two we used my iPhone 6. The reason we transitioned was camera quality, the iPhone camera is leagues better than the iPad one overall. We used no external microphones and overall I think the quality and sound were good (or at least, what would be expected for a livestream). Whatever device you’re using, having good, clear audio is key for your broadcast so make sure you check and test this before going live.

We’ve discussed purchasing some external equipment and there are over a dozen live video services out there that integrate with Facebook Live so some improvements may be made (multi-camera options would be amazing) but the simple iPhone works great.

Always test first

We have a dummy Facebook page that we use to test each video before we go live. Before every broadcast we have done a test broadcast. This allows us to know exactly what to expect when going live, check audio quality, lighting, and the WiFi connection.


As you’re setting up your video be aware of how to frame your shot. Facebook Live will crop your video square when showing it in the feed so make sure your subjects are always in that square frame even if you’re filming in landscape. Also when framing your shot, keep in mind how your video will appear in the user’s Facebook feed: no sound. So try to make the visuals interesting on their own without the audio if you can.

Give people time

It will take a minute or two for your audience to get the notification that you’re live (if you’re not on a scheduled time for your broadcast) and folks will need to get onto Facebook and find your page so give them a little time before diving in to whatever the main topic of your video is. Spend this time introducing your topic, who you’re interviewing, what’s happening on campus, etc. Also, around halfway through your video it doesn’t hurt to reiterate whatever you said in your introduction to catch those that may have come in later in the broadcast.

According to TechCrunch, Facebook will be launching a feature allowing you to pre-schedule broadcasts along with a “waiting room” for folks to wait in beforehand. They’re also going to allow two-person broadcasts (so folks from two different locations in the same stream) so that will be a nice new feature whenever it gets released.

Have you tried one of the live social video platforms? What lessons have you learned?


Cross-posted from William & Mary’s University Web & Design Blog.


William & Mary’s forays into live social video

Finding great ways to use live streaming social video on campus had been on the agenda of the social media folks at William & Mary since Periscope launched in the spring of 2015. However, no great projects or ideas really materialized, as the ephemeral nature of the Periscope videos made it feel like it was a lot of work for something that would disappear after 24 hours (granted, Snapchat has a similar issue but it is a very different platform, and possibly another blog post).

When Facebook Live entered onto the scene last year and then opened up live video to all people and pages this past April, that seemed like the true tipping point for live social video as the biggest social network was throwing their hat in the ring. This presented a really interesting new (and more permanent) way to communicate with our audiences on social media and I knew this was a tool we needed to be utilizing at W&M.

In University Communications we are always looking for ways to showcase our great faculty and students. Offering a way for our entire community to interact with interesting W&M people in real time (and ideally discuss some of their research) via live social video on platforms where our audiences already existed was a great melding of trying out an new technology and tying in to part of our general social media strategy.

W&M did our first live social video in late March, interviewing Government professor Jaime Settle about politics and social media. We had planned to use both Periscope and Facebook Live simultaneously (because why not just dive in head first and try all the things?), but at that point Facebook Live was still being a bit squirrely as to whether it was available to all pages or not. The day of the broadcast Facebook didn’t cooperate so we just used Periscope.

Our first Facebook Live post was right before graduation in May, when Face the Nation was on campus to interview our chancellor and W&M alumnus Robert M. Gates. John Dickerson, the host of Face the Nation, agreed to “Face the Tribe” in a short interview after they wrapped up filming of the show.

We completed our second Facebook live broadcast yesterday, talking to Government professor Clay Clemens about the the UK’s vote to leave the European Union.

I think this new way to interact with our audience and showcase great folks from W&M is definitely staying in the rotation. There have been a few lessons learned from these first forays into live social video and I’ll share those in my next post.

Cross-posted from William & Mary’s University Web & Design Blog


#heweb13 poster: Deciphering Facebook Insights

This year for the HighEdWeb conference I presented a poster, Deciphering Facebook Insights. I received lots of great questions from the attendees and have lots of ideas coming back to W&M both from the poster session, and the conference as a whole. This event is always a great time, with lots of amazing knowledge and educational experiences being shared and it’s also a great opportunity to catch up, in person, with all the folks that I typically only get to interact with via email or Twitter. Definitely looking forward to seeing everyone again in Portland next year (or maybe sooner?).

Recommended Facebook Insights Resources
New Insights
EdgeRank and News Feed
Tips on utilizing the “full” Post and Page Insights data exports

A proliferation of social media presentations

Over the last few months I’ve been asked by various offices and organizations on campus to give presentations on social media and how they can use it to market themselves to their many campus audiences. It’s been a fantastic opportunity to meet with many new folks on campus and “spread the word” about how social media can help them achieve their marketing and publicity goals.

Deciphering Facebook Insights

W&M Social Media Users Group, December 6, 2012

Like Us! Follow Us!

W&M Greek Leadership Institute, February 10, 2013

Stepping forward into Social Media

W&M Auxiliary Services, February 20, 2013

Social Media Bootcamp

W&M Social Media Users Group, April 5 2013


When is 100 > 10,000?

Last month I gave a presentation to William & Mary’s Social Media User’s Group on Facebook Insights and audience reach. A few folks in the group had voiced concerns about Facebook’s latest round of updates that appeared to reduce the aforementioned reach of a Page’s posts and requested that we have a meeting where we could learn more about that.

As I was creating the presentation I came to a realization. Although these metrics can certainly be useful in gauging how “successful” a given post is (where success is defined as posts that had the highest number of likes or shares or comments) what really matters in the end is, is what you present to your fans interesting? Is the information you’re providing what they’re looking for from your page (if they’re liking and sharing it, chances are this is the case)? Is what you think is engaging the same as what your fans think is?

Some folks have asked how many followers is a “good” number to have, or how many likes on a post. My response to that question is to actually turn it around and say, how many people do you want to be genuinely interacting with?

Do you remember Shel Silverstein’s poem “Smart“? If not, in the poem a child is given a dollar by his dad and he then trades that dollar for two quarters, “because two is more than one,” then trades those two quarters for three dimes and so on down to five pennies, not realizing that just because he’s accumulating more coins he’s not increasing the value of the money in his hand.

I think this is a (I’m sure unintended by Silverstein) fun analogy for social media. Are the fans you have “valuable”? Are they engaging in conversations with you based on your posts? Are they sharing and commenting on your content (therefore propagating your content to their friends and increasing your Page’s “reach”)? Or did your fans come to your page once to Like it and never return? This is when 100 > 10,000…100 genuinely engaged Facebook fans (or Twitter followers, or LinkedIn connections, or whatever) are more valuable to you than 10,000 indifferent users. Those 100 fans will do more for your page’s visibility with their sharing and liking, bringing your content onto the Timelines of others and thus further propagating your posts, than 10,000 fans who never interact.


First notes on Facebook Timeline for Pages

So as the internet chatter predicted, Facebook rolled out Timeline for Pages today. The page administrators have 30 days to fill in and polish up their timelines and then Facebook will roll over all pages to the new layout at the end of 30 days.

A few things to note:

  • The timeline won’t go live until you hit “Publish” or at the end of March, so fill in as much as you can before then, pinning important posts to the top of your page, starring important events in your timeline, etc.
  • The timeline cover photo is the same dimensions as the personal page one, 849 pixels wide by 313 pixels tall. A photo is not selected by default for you so you’ll have to choose something from your existing photos (it must be at least 720 pixels wide) or upload a new image.
  • In addition to the cover photo you’ll need to have a profile icon which should be square and at least 180 pixels wide.
  • Photos, likes and apps are now at the top of your Page along with your “About” blurb. Photos show in the first spot, then likes, then you can order the apps after that (you get a dropdown menu that will reveal all the apps once there’s more than 2).
  • You can no longer have an app as the default tab for your page. This is a big change and means that the “Welcome” and “Like Us!” tabs that so many pages have created will now be relegated to being just another tab the user has to find and click on. I will be very interested to see how pages adjust to this new paradigm.
  • Fans can now contact you privately with messages that will show up in the newly designed admin panel along with insights, new likes and activity.
  • The “Use Facebook as <page>” option is now buried under the Admin Panel in the Manage dropdown at the top of the page (the “Edit Page” option is also in this menu).

I’m sure more “features” will be discovered as more folks transition to the new layout. If you find something of interest, please let everyone know about it in the comments.


Better Facebook statuses with links

Having links, photos or videos in your Facebook status updates is shown to increase engagement by your fans. When there is more than just a plain text status update you are more likely to capture your audience’s attention and stand out in their news feed if you have an interesting visual element.

Facebook auto-generates a thumbnail or small image preview when you include photos or videos in your status updates. If you are linking to a webpage in your update (which you can do by simply pasting the URL into your status), Facebook will create a preview of that link to include with the status by looking on that page for a suitable title, description and image to use as the thumbnail. The title and description of the preview typically come from the page title and the first bit of content on the page. The image is pulled from anywhere on the page that Facebook thinks is a suitable image. If there are no images found on the page you are left with just text, which is not as intriguing for your fans.

You can assure that there’s always an image to include by using one of two methods: adding an “image_src” link tag to the head of your HTML document, or by including an appropriate image on the page (this can either be included to supplement the content of the page or hidden from view with a bit of CSS styling).

The syntax for adding the image_src link is:

<link rel="image_src" href="" />

By including this code in your HTML header you are telling Facebook to use this, and only this, image for your page. This is useful if you want to enforce consistency when folks link to your site by having the same logo or photo associated with your links. However, the side effect here is this will restrict a user from selecting any other image on your page (if there are any available) as the thumbnail for the link.

The second option is to have an image in the body of your page somewhere, either in the content or hidden from view on the page. This allows you to have both a “default” image to use if there isn’t one available on the page, and to allow selecting a more appropriate image from the content if it is available.

If you do not want to show the image you can hide it with:

style="display: none;"

added to your HTML image tag, this will hide the image from view in the browser, but allows Facebook to still see the image and include it for use as a link thumbnail.

Bonus Tip: You can trick Facebook into having two links in one status update by pasting the URL of the first link into your status update, adding a space at the end so Facebook recognizes it as a link and adds the preview, then you can delete that URL, compose the rest of your status update, and paste in a second supplementary URL.


Facebook Profiles vs Pages vs Groups

(Cross-posted on the W&M Creative Services Blog)

There are a lot of ways for people to connect on Facebook. What started as just a network for college students has mushroomed into a community of over 750 million active users where seemingly everyone (and nearly every business, celebrity, brand and university) has a presence. There are three main ways that an entity can have a presence on Facebook: profiles, pages and groups; not all of these options are suited for every occasion. Here are quick overviews of each type with answers to some of the most common questions about their differences.


Facebook profile silhouetteProfiles are for people and only people. On your profile you can share photos, videos, web links, and general status updates with people you have connected with as “friends.” If you create a personal profile for any other entity aside from yourself Facebook will get grumpy at you as it violates their terms of service agreement. So this boils down to no fake names or personas (use a Page) and no creating multiple personal accounts (like one for work use and one for personal).

If you are concerned about mixing work and personal Facebook use, keep in mind that if you are an admin of a Facebook page it is not listed anywhere publicly, so no one will know to contact you or associate you with that professional page. You can utilize friend lists to keep work and personal Facebook friends separate and control what each group sees by selectively sharing information via your Facebook privacy settings.
For more on friend lists and privacy see the Facebook Help Center.

If you have created a Profile rather than a Page, for your business or brand, Facebook now offers a way to convert your Profile to a Page. Be warned however, only your photos and friends (who will be converted to “fans”) will be moved over, your wall posts and any other data on your profile will not be saved so make sure if you want to keep that information you have it backed up somewhere. For more details on how to convert a profile to a page, check out the Facebook Help Center.


Facebook page iconPages are essentially profiles for any entity that isn’t a real-life person on Facebook. Pages have the same photo albums, wall and info page as a personal profile, but you can have an unlimited number of “fans” rather than “friends” (which is limited to 5,000). Many celebrities also maintain a fan page in addition to, or in place of, their personal profile. This avoids the friend limits of a profile and when the celebrity is also a “brand,” is a way to keep their business and personal entities separate.

Facebook allows there to be one or more administrators for a Page. A cool feature released by Facebook allows an administrator of a Page to post wall messages or comments while masquerading as the page itself, rather than as their individual account. This feature is another good way to keep the business and personal aspects of Facebook separate if you manage a Facebook page for work.

For detailed info on how to create and manage Facebook Pages, visit the Facebook Help Center.


Facebook group iconIf you have a need to more frequently or directly communicate with a small community of people then a Facebook group is the way to go. You can utilize Facebook’s group chat, shared documents, and messaging features (where members will get emails rather that status updates in their Facebook stream as with a Page), to communicate directly with the members of your group.

There are three kinds of Facebook Groups:

  • Secret – Only members can see the group and what members post
  • Closed – Everyone can see the group. Only members see posts
  • Open (public) – Everyone can see the group and what members posts

If you are debating between a Group and a Page, consider how you plan on using it. Do you want to have a real-life “club” feel with a directly engaged community? If so, use a Group. If you want to offer interesting information to a large audience and publicize your organization, use a Page.

For more on Facebook groups, visit Facebook’s official Group help page.

Speaking of Facebook Groups, if you’re in charge of (or have any interest in) social media and are part of the W&M community, please join our W&M SMUG (Social Media Users Group) Facebook Group.