Fun & Fiascos with Facebook Live
A few weeks ago, our forward-thinking, always-relevant and uber-fun marketing team decided we needed to get cracking with this new thing called Facebook Live.
I’d never even heard of it, but I’ve always enjoyed live filming when we’ve done it in the past with various news crews (I’m dreadful at trying to work off a memorized script and tend to get worse when attempting multiple re-takes) so I thought, what’s to lose? And we started brainstorming ideas, with a grand plan to go Live at least once a week. We’re so progressive! (At least for the pet food industry.)
Although I don’t really understand the behind-the-scenes technical stuff (such as how does the footage actually make it onto the Facebook page, anyway?), doing a live video, in principle, seems like fairly simple procedure. For those of you thinking about going live and wanting bright, clear and professional looking and sounding videos, we thought we’d help you out and let you know what worked (and didn’t work) for us.
The first time we went live, we decided to make Pumpkin Lattes for dogs, using our Instant Goat’s Milk, a bit of canned pumpkin and some cinnamon. We got the kitchen all set up, I channeled my inner loud, projected clear voice (it’s normally a bit soft and British-sounding for everyday use, and we hadn’t yet thought to use a mic). Parker the Puppy cooperated, the recipe turned out beautifully and the canine taste-testers all approved.
Everyone was rather chuffed, and we sat down to review, until staff in the office started murmuring that there wasn’t any sound. Sure enough, the entire Facebook Live video segment was silent (lesson #1: don’t leave the phone on mute when recording!).
We raced to erase the soundless video and did a quick re-take hoping no one would notice what we’d just done (luckily, we hadn’t let the pups finish all the canned pumpkin). Round two had a few moments of silence in the beginning and then sound. And then the sound went off. And came back on again. And so it went on. A bit annoying but we got thousands of views and people seemed to like it. All in all we were pleased but the sound issue was something we were determined to fix.
The next session was some ‘behind the scenes footage’ of an interview with Healthy Spot, one of our favorite retailers, from LA. Alas, once again, the sound kept fading in and out, and even when the sound was on, it was incredibly muffled and practically inaudible. Insert rude (but suitably mild-sounding to Americans) British expletive!
The Marketing Team set to work, researching articles all about sound issues with Facebook Live. Thinking they found a solution, they bought a microphone off Amazon but it caused an incessant crackle every time it was turned on. They returned that and found a fancy set of Sony lavalier mics in a drawer in the office, that seemed to do the job. They looked professional and were tested successfully again and again. We finally found the answer to our sound issues (or so we thought)!
But it turns out that even after you begin recording on Facebook Live, the sound doesn’t kick in for a few seconds and you can’t actually tell at what point the sound is truly flowing down the cable and up to the cloud (if it does indeed go via a cloud) and landing lightly on our Facebook Wall. Therefore, our next session, which was footage of me reading an excerpt of my new book Dog Obsessed to a varying number of office dogs, includes a moment at the beginning where I ask if people can hear Adele playing on the office sound system.
I say a varying number of dogs because some of them got totally bored and wandered off part way through the video. Others hung about and pretended to listen but mostly out of view. Some got inadvertently tapped on the head by flying dog cookies, which I’d asked the marketing team to toss into the vicinity to try to keep them around. In hindsight, it’s quite hard to keep on reading with small biscuits flying across your peripheral vision. The only dogs who stayed and listened to the reading for the duration of the filming were my ever-loyal Rhodesian Ridgeback Willow, and Felix, a lovely old black Pug who’s blind and couldn’t find his way down off the sofa. Facebook Live + Pets = An Extra Level of Uncertainty.
The microphone definitely helped but the sound on the Live video when it actually posted to our Facebook wall was pretty fuzzy still. We think the Sony mics are better suited for higher-end video recording done using actual video equipment and not a smart phone. On to the next option.
After another recipe video making our Halloween Pumpkin Ginger Nibblers for Pups and the lavalier microphone failing miserably, we finally found a solution! We purchased the Rode SmartLav Microphone for iPhones and smartphones. You simply plug the one end into your phone and clip the mic end to your shirt. You can purchase this cable to allow more distance between the person wearing the mic and the phone. It works beautifully and is so very easy to use. That paired with a tripod and adaptor mount for a phone will take your Facebook Live videos from novice to professional.
If you’re planning to jump on the Facebook Live bandwagon, we hope this post will save you some time and headache (and at the very least make you laugh). Want to follow along on our Facebook Live journey? Click here to like The Honest Kitchen on Facebook.