What we’ve learned from our Facebook Live office hours

We love a good social experiment around here (as in with our social media, not performed on our coworkers) so a few months ago we started hosting regular office hours on Facebook Live, testing different times until we landed on a regular biweekly slot at 2pm PT/4pm CT Thursdays with a casual, Q&A happy hour. (You can catch the last one here and the full playlist so far here.)

Naturally we’ve learned a few things along the way, and wanted to share those takeaways with you.

Got a question or something we missed? You can always find us on Twitter @UnionMetrics, or you can tune into our next office hours tomorrow (5/18) to ask live!

Lesson 1: SMBs are hurt by lack of access to equipment and features

As we have shared before, we know the pains of operating as an SMB because we are one ourselves. While we’d love to have a full video studio with the ability to crank out Buzzfeed-worthy content, that simply isn’t in the scope of our resources. Our Social Media Manager is only one woman, armed with a smartphone and a laptop.

That leaves us limited by access to some Facebook features, including the ability to schedule broadcasts ahead of time, unless we acquire fancier broadcast equipment or install software. When you go to the page to set up a Live broadcast ahead of time, you’re greeted with this message:

profesh equipment needed 2

It would be a huge boon to SMB Pages if Facebook could make this feature more widely available by making it more user friendly for those with more limited resources. So far we’ve decided to keep it casual with a laptop webcam plus a simulcast on Instagram using their new live feature.

Lesson 2: Live video isn’t necessarily pay-to-play

While Facebook as a whole has undeniably been trending toward pay-to-play for brands, your mileage may vary in terms of promoting your Live videos. For us, we got a huge boost in reach with the office hours broadcasts that we promoted, but a huge drop in video watch time and other important metrics around engagement.

It might be something for us to try again in the future with a more targeted audience, but so far for us it makes more sense to make a second post featuring the same video (it’s easy to set this up by going to your video library) and publishing it a few days later, organically.

Lesson 3: Facebook wants you to go Live (and go long)

Anecdotally, we’ve noticed a nice boost in our general Facebook metrics the weeks following our office hours broadcast and often a slight drop after the weeks we don’t do one. Considering we keep our broadcasts relatively short and casual, it’s definitely worth the investment of the time and resources we’re currently putting into the project.

It’s no secret that Facebook wants people and brands to be using this feature (despite the issues encountered with problematic broadcasts) so it makes sense that testing it out would give your general metrics a little boost; a valuable thing when organic reach is getting harder and harder to come by.

Facebook recommends that Live broadcasts go for at least ten minutes to give your audience time to find your broadcast and tune in, and they can run for up to four hours. We cut ours off when we run out of tips based on the week’s subjects and don’t have anyone tuning in to ask questions live.

The takeaway? Live is definitely worth testing for your brand and quality over quantity is still the best approach here. A longer broadcast someone stumbles on and starts watching won’t help your brand if they’re turned off by a lack of coherent content.

Bonus question: What would you like to see from us?

Have you caught one of our office hours broadcasts, either Live or after the fact? What would you like to see us cover? What would motivate you to tune in regularly?

Let us know!