Right now, the vast majority of Facebook users streaming live video content are using Facebook's Live app. And while the quality of the video content created in Live looks acceptable when displayed on a mobile device or in a small desktop window, it’s hardly broadcast quality (as we saw last week when protesting members of Congress switched to live streaming after C-Span’s high quality cameras were turned off).
But let’s say you’re working for an agency, or an educational institution, a ball team, a software company, or a news organization. Chances are that you’d like to create a better, higher quality video impression on Facebook than what's possible via a basic mobile phone or desktop webcam. To do this means using a professional camera, and may also entail a pro audio set up as well (for example, to livecast a panel discussion, you’ll need multiple microphones and a mixer).
Fortunately, Facebook makes it easy to plug the output of your pro-level video and equipment into Facebook, making it viewable by Facebook’s huge audience.
Here’s how to do it:
Step 1: Go to your Facebook Business Page and click “Publishing Tools” on the top horizontal nav bar.
Step 2: Once in the Publishing Tools area, click “Video” in the left-hand panel:
Step 3: Once you’re in the “Videos/Video Library” area, click the “ Live” button at the top-right corner:
A "Create Live Video" window will open. This window has important data – dynamically created – that you’ll need to paste into the Settings area of your streaming software. If your software supports Single Field streams, simply paste the data in the top field (Server or Stream URL) into your Settings area; if it supports Separate Fields, paste both the Server URL and the Stream Key data.
Step 4: Activate your streaming software and click “Preview.”
If everything's working correctly, you’ll see a preview of your live stream within the display rectangle within the Preview window (in this case there’s nothing displayed because I've not connected any pro-level video or audio gear). If you have a problem it might be an issue with your encoding software - make sure that its output is compatible with Facebook Live Video: Facebook requires that 3rd party encoding software supports the rtmp or rtmps live streaming video format. Add a Title and any relevant Video tags to identify your stream.
Step 5: Click “Go Live” and start streaming your high-quality video feed through Facebook.
Wait a minute - is it really this easy?
While Facebook has made interfacing your own streaming software with its distribution network as easy as it could, it’s possible – even likely — that you’ll encounter problems when first attempting to make the connection. Live-streaming, while easier than ever, is still a bit of an unpredictable medium and glitches are common. In fact, Facebook itself suffered a massive failure when it attempted to live-stream an interview with President Obama back in May. But it’s more likely that there’s some incompatibility on your end that’s holding things up.
First off, your streaming software must output to rtmp or rtmps, which is a standard output format for popular streaming software, including live-stream, OBS, Wirecast, Xsplit and ffmpeg. Double check that your software supports this.
Furthermore, you’ll have to make sure that the stream you’re outputting to Facebook is in the right format. Facebook requires that any 3rd party streams sent to it be:
- 720 x 1280 aspect ratio, 30 FPS, with 1 key frame sent every 2 seconds.
- Maximum bit rate of 2,500 Kbps
- Titles less than 250 characters
- Video stream must be H264 encoded video and AAC encoded audio only
If you have a live event scheduled, make sure you thoroughly troubleshoot everything well ahead of time. Still, because Facebook Live is such a new medium (last time I checked the Facebook Live Video map, only 11 people were live-streaming from California – which has a population of 38 million people), there’s a lot of first mover advantage potential for marketers who get out in front of the curve with high-quality live feeds, so it’s something worth doing if you have the resources – internally or via your agency.
So go forth and live-stream in a way that sets you apart from the low-fidelity crowd