As the popularity of streaming video with Facebook Live continues to rise, new tools are being provided to marketers. One of the most exciting recent developments is the ability to stream webinars to pages and groups via Facebook Live.
Let’s take a closer look at what this means for you as a marketer and how you can start streaming webinars today.
Webinars are a great sales tool for marketers. They provide the ability to stream the host’s desktop, typically featuring a series of slides.
Traditionally, this has meant creating lead forms and landing pages that entice visitors to provide an email address to reserve a spot and attend at a planned time (there is evergreen webinar software as well that streams recordings around the clock, but I’m not going there).
I use free webinars to build my email list and also act as an introduction to my paid products. My training programs are built on a 4-webinar system. Finally, I conduct weekly webinars for my Power Hitters Club – Elite membership community.
The Advantages of Webinars via Facebook Live
There are several built-in advantages of using Facebook Live to stream your webinars.
1. No additional software for users.
This is a big deal. Some people hate adding software to their computers. GoToWebinar needs regular updates and can take a while to install.
Install aside, though, there are other issues involved with hosting webinars elsewhere. They rely on the user receiving email communication with a special link to attend the webinar. This is often an issue, whether it be those emails go to spam, they get buried or the notifications get delayed.
2. Low barrier for users.
It doesn’t get much easier for the user. They don’t need to provide an email address. Since 1.8 Billion users are on Facebook monthly, it’s not as if the typical person needs to change their behavior to view the webinar. It comes to them.
3. Potential for virality.
This is huge for the marketer. It tends to cost $1 or more to get a registrant for a typical webinar hosted elsewhere. And a small percentage of those people are expected to attend. For most marketers, this means a lot of work and money for a low turnout.
But on Facebook, there is much more potential for reaching a large number of people. Of course, it certainly helps that you have a built-in audience in place. But if you do, you start your webinar and it shows in their news feeds. And given Facebook’s emphasis on live video, they’re even likely to be notified when it starts.
I’ve found webinars conducted via Facebook Live to be much more social than the typical webinar. I can answer people verbally who comment. Others watching the video can also communicate with one another.
Even better, I can write replies after the webinar is over to add value to the comment thread when users view the replay.
5. No attendance maximums.
Some webinar hosting software (like GoToWebinar) have maximums on the number of people who can attend a webinar at a time. You have to pay more for a higher threshold, going up to 1,000.
But with Facebook Live, you have no such restrictions. You could have 100 or 100,000 people watch your webinar.
The Disadvantages of Webinars via Facebook Live
Of course, there are also some potential disadvantages of using Facebook Live to host webinars.
I’ve used GoToWebinar for several years now, and I find it to be extremely dependable. I can’t say I know the technology well to explain it, but there tend to be very few issues of people being unable to view a webinar with that software.
While streaming video with Facebook Live is still quite new, I have seen more issues here. The quality of the audio and video relies heavily on the bandwidth and connection speed of the user. And that can be frustrating for all involved.
2. No email address provided for marketers.
While this is great for the user, it’s less great for the marketer. The email address is extremely valuable. So it’s ultimately a tradeoff: Can the marketer get more sales as a result of reaching more people than they could while collecting a smaller number of email addresses?
You may not get an email address up front, but there is something else you can do to follow up (I’ll get to that later).
This could be a major annoyance if you’re streaming to your Facebook page. The typical webinar is walled off. Those watching it want to be there. They jump through a lot of hoops to be there.
With Facebook Live, they may be seeing it because a friend is engaging with it. Or maybe they like a page that they follow very casually.
The troll comments can be a major disruption.
4. Less control.
If you use GoToWebinar or another tool to host your webinars, you have quite a bit of control over design, privacy, and other settings. With Facebook Live, you are a bit naked.
Use a Third Party Tool
As I type this, you can’t just go to your Facebook group or page and start streaming a webinar. From those places, you can only stream from your webcam.
But you can stream webinars using a third party tool that then utilizes the Facebook API. Note that OBS Studio is a free option. I’ve experimented with it and found it to be a bit clunky. However, it is free after all. And it certainly does the trick if you’re on a tight budget.
There are a couple of other options that I have experimented with. One is Blue Jeans OnSocial. Blue Jeans is a slick tool that allows you to stream your desktop, webcam or multiple webcams — including guests. Pricing starts at $39.95 per month (this is an introductory price that will go up to $59.95 per month).
I am currently using Wirecast. I find it to be a combination between OBS Studio and Blue Jeans. It does the trick for streaming your desktop to Facebook, and the pricing starts at a one-time fee of $495.
Note that none of the links above are affiliate links. This isn’t a recommendation to go one way or the other. I’m sure there are other options, too. But know that these are three that I have tried and all will allow you to stream webinars to Facebook. Some simply have more or different bells and whistles than others.
How to Stream a Webinar on Facebook Live with Wirecast
I am currently using Wirecast to stream my weekly webinars to my Power Hitters Club – Elite community within the private Facebook group. As a result, that’s the tool I’ll showcase in this tutorial.
Understand that Wirecast and other tools are loaded with features. There are endless possibilities here. I’m only scratching the surface of what you can do with this because I simply want to show you how to stream a webinar, no more.
This is what the Wirecast dashboard looks like…
We need to tell Wirecast to stream to Facebook Live. So from Output, go to “Output Settings.”
Select “Facebook Live.”
This is where we update all of the settings for the live video that we are creating. Note that there are several encoding options. Unless you know what you’re doing there, the default should be fine (it’s what I’m using).
Click “Authenticate” to connect Wirecast to your Facebook account.
Log in to your Facebook account…
After authenticating, we create our Facebook post. The title and description are the title of the video and description as it will appear on your post. You can simply stream to your Facebook profile if you want.
But you can also select from the pages that you control.
Or you can stream to one of your Facebook groups. Or even an event.
For a webinar, this will be a “Regular” stream. Click “Create” when you’re done to generate an RTMP URL location (don’t worry about what that is, it doesn’t really matter).
Now you add layers. This is essentially grabbing screens that you will be airing on the video. You can capture from other devices that are connected to your computer (like a microphone or another camera). You can also record from your webcam, which could add a nice personal touch.
But we certainly want to create a layer for “Screen Capture.”
You can either capture your entire monitor or choose a window. While it may make sense to choose a window and then select PowerPoint, for example, that doesn’t work when you go into a slideshow. Simply choose the monitor.
On the right is the Live Broadcast Area. You’re not streaming yet, but if you were, that’s what people would see. On the left is the layer that you have selected that’s essentially in pending status. Click that arrow to push that screen live. Wirecast provides several transition options to choose from.
When you’re ready to go live, go to Output > Start/Stop Broadcasting > Select your broadcast. As you can see, you can also record your webinar. I won’t go into that here, but it’s always a good idea!
Personally, I like to start the broadcast early with this “Starting Soon” screen. That way there is some buffer so that people don’t miss the start.
Understand that you won’t see the comments coming in from your slides or Wirecast. I open a separate device (phone or iPad) to monitor the Facebook Live video as people are seeing it and commenting. This also allows me to spot any problems since I see what they see.
1. Private communities.
Having the ability to stream webinars to a private Facebook group has been a huge bonus for my business. In the past, I could expect that the turnout and participation in weekly webinars was relatively low. It’s now multiplied.
When someone signs up to be a member of Power Hitters Club – Elite, membership already included access to a private Facebook group. Previously, I had to set up automation that would also automatically register the member to GoToWebinar. But it was one more thing that could go wrong.
The greatest value of this membership is found within the community. Yet I found that maybe 80% of members actually joined the Facebook group. By forcing them to join the group to watch the webinars, members are more likely to see the value and not cancel early.
If you already have a private, closed community, using Facebook Live to stream webinars is a terrific option. However, I probably wouldn’t create a group for the sole purpose of streaming webinars.
2. A second airing alternative.
This is something I’m considering (secretly planning). I tend to promote free webinars pretty heavily. But after that webinar runs, I may run a second airing on Facebook Live. This gives those who didn’t register a chance to see it — potentially leading to more sales.
Have you experimented with airing webinars via Facebook Live? How are you doing it, and what do you think?
Let me know in the comments below!