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Use Facebook Live to stream your church events

When trying to connect with people through social media, compelling video is an effective way to draw people in. However, as you explore video marketing, you may be asking yourself, "Can I do it?" and "Is it worth it?"

Facebook Live helps answer those questions with a resounding "yes."

For sometime now, there have been several solutions to live broadcast your worship service online free, but Facebook has recently made live-streaming incredibly easy through a new feature called Facebook Live.

Here's what you need to know to get started and make the most of Facebook Live:

1. You can scale up from phone to professional video tools.

One of the best things about Facebook Live is that it scales from anyone being able to use it via the Facebook app on their phones to supporting those who have invested in professional video encoders. If you are on the pro side of things, Facebook has a page that provides details that will cause the average user's eyes to glass over.

If you are like most users and will be using your phone, make sure you grab a tripod and mount to steady your shot.

2. Prepare your live post.

Though you can start broadcasting with a couple of clicks, take the time before you go live to prepare your post. It's worth the time. Your post will be promoted like any other, so a good title and description are important as the Facebook algorithm will use those to decide which of your friends will see it in their feed.

If you have a couple days lead time, post an announcement letting your friends and followers know when to catch the live event. The more people who are watching, the more Facebook will put it in front of other potential viewers.

3. Choose your aspect ratio wisely.

You can hold your phone horizontally or vertically, but once you make the decision, you are stuck with it. Before you go live, survey the scene. If you have a wide church chancel area with a choir and pulpit that need to be shown at the same time, you will definitely want to go with horizontal. If you are going to be showing a single person standing and talking, the vertical shot might be better.

Though video professionals generally opt for horizontal, the reality is that most people viewing your live feed will be doing so on their phones, not their televisions. That means that most of their viewing will be done holding the screen in the vertical orientation. When you are choosing the orientation and framing your shots, remember that the wide orientation may appear very small on most people's devices unless they rotate them.

Making the broadcast as high quality as possible is important (check out 12 tips for video marketing).

4. Don't just set it and forget it.

One of the great aspects of the Facebook Live video is that it allows you to zoom during the broadcast. When you combine that with the better aspect ratio, it means that while you can set your phone on a tripod and leave it, you shouldn't. Instead, be certain that someone is sitting at the phone and making sure the action is filling as much of the screen as possible.

5. Take it up a notch through interaction.

Interaction that would have required a lot of custom code in the past is standard in the new Facebook Live feature. While you are broadcasting, your viewers will be able to "like" and comment. Since it can be difficult to keep a good shot while replying to audience comments, ask a helper to be the official presence and respond while you keep filling the screen with the action.

6. Be aware of the bandwidth.

Facebook Live does a good job of managing the video quality so the broadcast doesn't look like a slideshow. In fact, if you do not have enough bandwidth, the "live" button will be grayed out. Those who have the tools to test say that you should expect to use about 2mb of data per minute. Depending on your cellular data plan, that can add up quickly, so make sure you know you have enough before you go live — or, even better, be sure you have a good Wi-Fi connection.

7. Make sure you're legal.

With streaming this quick and easy, accidentally crossing the line of copyright law is a real concern. Before you go there, take a minute to explore the copyright issues.

Whether you use Facebook Live to showcase an occasional choir concert or begin using it weekly to broadcast your sermon or release your announcements to those who can't make it to church, this tool is an easy way to use live video to connect with your community.

In the next issue of MyCom we'll go beyond the worship service and discuss four more ways to use Facebook Live at church.

Jeremy Steele

When Jeremy and his wife are not playing with their four children, he oversees youth and college ministries and leads the evening worship service at Christ UMC in Mobile, Ala. Jeremy is an author of several books and resources that you can find at JeremyWords.com or follow him on Twitter!

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