Category: Twitter

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


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


#heweb11 #tnt8 and #austintx

Yes that’s a lot of Twitter hashtags but that’s what’s been filling up the past few days for me. I, along with four other folks from W&M Creative Services, travelled to Austin earlier this week to attend HighEdWeb 2011 in Austin, Texas. Tina Coleman and Andrew Bauserman presented on our new events system at W&M, and Joel Pattison and Justin Schoonmaker offered a Photoshop workshop. Our former director Susan Evans (now at mStoner) also presented on creating a Creative Services team.

I presented alongside Doug Gapinski from mStoner about mobile strategy for higher education. The talk was well received on Twitter (tracked via hashtags for each session, ours was #tnt8) and I’m excited that folks were so interested in our topic. HighEdWeb’s magazine Link summarized our talk summarized our talk twice (!) if you’re curious about what we discussed.

I attended a lot of great talks and have some great ideas to bring back to campus. Here are their Twitter hashtag commentary (with a quick-and-dirty archive courtesy of Twitter RSS) and summaries courtesy of Link:

As always this is a great conference with great speakers and networking opportunities, looking forward to HighEdWeb 2012 in Milwaukee!


An introduction to blogs, Twitter, and Facebook

Below is a post I wrote for Bethel United Methodist Church’s blog. I grew up going to Bethel and now I maintain their website and Google Apps account. Many of the “new technologies” the past few years have become commonplace with some members of the church, but other folks aren’t familiar with all the different social media outlets, or how they can be used, so this is my overview of a few of these (blogs, Facebook and Twitter).

What is all this “social media” stuff anyway?

Bethel Church has been “online” for over 10 years with our website. We’ve recently begun to venture into the technology front even further with email mailing lists and having the second service every Sunday available to watch live online. All of these services are great, and will continue to be used here at the church, however a new type of communication has also begun to emerge that can supplement our current communications.

Over the past few years, we have been presented with a lot of new information courtesy of what is known as “social media”, which includes things like blogs, Facebook, and Twitter (for detailed descriptions of each, please see the appropriate section below). At their core, all of these things are websites that provide people and businesses with a place to share their thoughts and interests online. These websites disseminate information, whether it be a personal account of someone’s latest vacation, or the promotion of an upcoming event at a restaurant and they each foster communities of their own, spurring discussions and comments on what people have shared.

So why am I blogging about this? At my job in Creative Services at the College of William & Mary I work daily with the technologies I mentioned above, we use these social media outlets to share the mission of the College with our community and the general public. Additionally, I have been using these social media sites personally for quite a while. Since I am in Williamsburg, but still want to help out my home church, I volunteer to run and update our website and now I’m starting to explore our church’s presence on social media and determine how we can utilize it to the best of its capabilities.

How can we use it?

The church has had a website for many years, way before any of these social media sites were around, and Facebook, blogs and Twitter are the next step in our “online presence.” The content shared via social media should supplement, not replace, what is currently offered on our main website.

Since not everyone who is interested in coming to church is able to attend in person, offering a virtual community where folks can learn about our church is a great outreach tool. Through our interactions with each other on these sites we offer a glimpse of the welcoming and loving atmosphere that we strive to offer.

Venturing into these new forms of communication also helps us to keep the church community vibrant with new members, as this is another avenue to explain and explore what we do. With over 500 million users on Facebook, 190 million on Twitter, and an unlimited audience for the blog, this is a huge community of people with whom we can communicate. When you share something on Facebook about the church, it goes to all of your friends (by appearing on their Facebook wall). If your friends find it interesting they will share it with their friends and so on; with just one post we have been able to reach hundreds, even thousands, of people.

Facebook and Twitter are also a great way to provide quick updates within our community. If it’s decided the church is closing due to inclement weather, or we want to remind everyone about the UMW breakfast coming up, you will find out that information as soon as it is released, since you can receive updates from Twitter and Facebook on your mobile phones as well as on your computer.

What are they?


In the case of blogs, like this one, the author writes an entry, known as a “post,” explaining their thoughts on a topic (the term “blog” came from combining the word “web log”). The readers of the post can then share their thoughts by leaving comments, which can spark further discussion and ideas.

There are blogs and blogging communities for just about every topic and interest, and the way that you can keep up with the latest posts on a blog is using what is called “RSS” (which stands for Real Simple Syndication). What RSS allows you to do is to be automatically notified when a new post is made available on a blog, you find out about these new posts by “subscribing” to that blog’s RSS feed.

There are many different ways to receive the notifications of the new posts, most popular is what’s called an “RSS reader”, that acts as your own personal customized newspaper and pulls together all the RSS feeds from all the blogs that you have subscribed to and presents them to you in one place. Popular RSS Readers include Google Reader, iGoogle, FeedDemon, and Bloglines.


Facebook is the most popular and wide-spread of the social media “platforms”. With Facebook, a person creates an online profile and can indicate other profiles on Facebook that belong to their friends and connect with that person by “friending” them. Facebook users can share photos, videos, website links, and more on their profile and that activity will show up on their friends “Facebook Wall” amongst activity from all the other person’s friends.

Businesses, community organizations and non-profits may also create online profiles, but since they are not tied with a particular person they are known as “fan pages” and other users of Facebook can indicate that they support that organization by “liking” the page. Organizations with a fan page communicate with their fans by posting status updates, photos, videos, etc. just like a personal profile, and these updates will show up on the “Wall” of anyone who likes the page. Fan pages can serve as a community-based supplement to an organization’s website. We just started a fan page for the church this weekend.

Facebook also offers what are known as “Facebook Groups”, which are like “clubs” in the real world, they require you to “join” and then members of that group can interact directly with each other. Any activity on the group’s “wall” comes from individual members, and communications within the group are done with Facebook messages. Groups are best for small-scale, personal interactions. Our church Facebook group has been around for over two years.


Twitter is similar to blogging, however each of the posts from a person is limited to 140 characters and these posts are automatically shared with other Twitter users who “follow” them. When people post on their Twitter account it is known as “tweeting,” these little posts (called “tweets”) can range in topic from what the person had for breakfast, to their opinion on the latest news story, or, if the account is a company, advertising a last-minute sale. Twitter has become the fastest way for news to travel, as “tweeting” can easily be done using a mobile phone. We’ve just started a church Twitter account as well.