Is Facebook Live Upstaging Your Station?

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(By Tom Zarecki) It’s a fact: Nearly all the major video streaming apps (Facebook Live, Periscope, etc.) have strong, empowering effects on radio people. But, as a radio GM, PD, or air talent, the last thing you want to do is upstage your own station, distracting your listeners. The whole point of video streaming apps like Facebook Live (FBL) for radio people is to promote and add to station momentum. It’s content the listener wouldn’t get on the station itself, but (this is key) content that adds to what the station has already provided.

Top 10 Ways FBL Works Best For Radio

Remotes: At remote broadcasts or external promotional events.

Sports: An air talent at a major sporting event, even in the bleachers.

Contests: Picking the grand prize winner in a large station contest.

Traffic: A radio staffer at a traffic incident, reporting or answering questions from someone back in the studio.

Breaking or topical news: A radio staffer talking with listeners at the scene of a breaking news story, or just talking with listeners about hot topics. Whether the topic is local (explosion at local business!) or state (governor wants to raise taxes!), or national (Trump re-institutes military draft!), go to a shopping mall and line up three people to briefly chat about it with shoppers between songs.

In-studio interviews: Before and after (and during, if you’re good) in-studio artist discussion or on-air performance.

Live studio tours: Virtual live tour of your studio “between songs” — but do this occasionally (weekly or monthly, or for a specific event), not every day.

Live office tour: Virtual live tour of the other parts of the station, hosted by an air talent, talking with preselected staffers.

Additional content: Use FBL to provide more details of something already being mentioned on air. Some examples:

Car giveaway: Use FBL to provide a live walk-through of the car, beep the horn, turn on the radio, start it up, drive it! Remember, promote this in advance two or three times on the air before doing it on FBL.

Concert ticket giveaway: Have an air talent talk about the concert, then point the camera (or phone) at a computer, already set up with tabs for various YouTube videos of that artist performing live. The air talent plays DJ as he/she clicks from one excerpt to another.

Archive your greatest hits: This is important! Add a new page to your station’s website where you can post links to FBL streams your listeners will enjoy most. Run promos on air about this archive, so listeners can see what they missed. (This will also help boost future FBL efforts.)

When FBL Is Wrong For Radio

Watch me, Mom! An air talent decides spontaneously to put on FBL so radio listeners can see the studio and “watch me do stuff” before and during talk breaks. This approach comes out dull, nearly every time.

No planning: If you’re doing a boring show, adding FBL makes it even more boring.

No station policy: If the station has no policies for air personalities using FBL, or any video streaming app, any staffer can potentially do anything at any time. That’s dangerous.

To Get Max Mileage From Live Video Streaming

Create a policy: Streaming video on behalf of the station should be used only by key people (full-time airstaff, sales manager, promotion director). Include how often to use it, how much is too much, and when to ask for permission before promoting a feed on air.

Tease it on the air! Never do a live video stream about the station “in secret,” without mentioning it on the station or without getting permission. You’ve got an entire radio station and its massive audience, so use it. Promote live two or three times that your FBL stream will begin soon. Start your video stream during a song or spot break so you can speak with your streaming video viewers directly first. Explain that you’re about to go live on the air, so they can see you do it.

Live comments from viewers will start coming in, in real time, during your video stream, so you (and everyone watching) can read them on-screen as they appear. Try to talk live while glancing at the comments. Some will be worthy of mention; read one or two every now and then. If you’re a creative, multitasking air personality, they’re writing some material for you!

And decide the approximate length before starting! Longer is not necessarily better, but less than five minutes is way too short. Still, don’t overstay your welcome, or you will be upstaging your station. The feed can never feel more important than the station.

Remember, Facebook Live used by air personalities is part of their show prep, and best uses should be discussed at regular individual talent aircheck sessions. You do have those sessions, right? More on critiquing air talent in a future article.

Tom Zarecki is a Former Marketing Director; RCS Sound Software; Adjunct Professor of Communications and Marketing, Western Connecticut State University

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