Using Facebook Live for Business:
Lessons from the SBDC
By Cathy Balach, Director Napa-Sonoma Small Business Development Center
At the Napa-Sonoma SBDC, we use Facebook Live ourselves to provide timely updates to information and educational resources. We also teach businesses to use Facebook Live and if you’re interested in how to ‘up your game’ on Facebook, or if you’ve been considering creating video or podcasts for your business, it may be a fit for you.
What is Facebook Live?
Facebook Live is a live streaming feature that allows you to broadcast a live video to your audience through your business page or personal profile. You are “face-to-face” in real time with your customers.
The benefits of using Facebook Live include:
- It’s connected with, and is a part of, Facebook so it provides access to the world’s largest online audiences through a platform they already use every day, with a sense of genuine interpersonal connection.
- A tipoff in the name; it is live, so you can be present to interact directly with the audience by answering questions in real time.
- It’s a great way to promote your business and share it across your network and to build your following.
- Once a Facebook Live video is created it is stored on your page or profile and is available for viewers who missed the live event.
- Facebook has made several changes to its algorithm to ensure that Facebook Live events are shown first in individual newsfeeds. Thus, using Facebook Live can increase a business’s visibility online!
- It’s easy to use. Yes, there are tips and tricks to do it better (read on), but Facebook provides the ‘channel’ which you can access on any device.
Did you know Facebook Live videos receive 3 times the engagement than a video that is not live?
Behind the Scenes of The Napa-Sonoma SBDC Facebook Live Show
When the COVID pandemic started, the Napa-Sonoma SBDC had to close our doors to public interaction. Yet this was precisely the time that small businesses had questions, and needed the support and resources the SBDC could provide.
With all the COVID-related shutdowns, financial peril and regularly changing guidance, quick and immediate help was needed. After all, who could help to decipher government jargon regarding the funding options? Who could make sense of all the rules and regulations of COVID grants and loans, or remember all the deadlines?
The SBDC moved all workshops to Zoom, which was an easy way of transitioning them online. But that didn’t fill the gap of having a direct interface, open to people with a sense of ‘what’s happening now’. Enter Facebook Live.
The SBDC Facebook Live launched with coverage of the most up-to-date COVID funding information for businesses. In addition to the previously mentioned benefits of using Facebook Live, some additional reasons for choosing this option included:
- Reaching an expanded audience of business owners that may not have worked with the SBDC before.
- A sense of being ‘open’. This platform was more akin to setting office hours, rather than feeling like just another online webinar or class.
The program has been watched by thousands of viewers, many tuning in to get answers for their business situation. For example, some of the topics covered in the September 14, 2021 show included updates about the California Relief Grant, as well as changes to the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) programs:
- Increase of the funding cap from $500K to $2M
- Implementation of a deferred payment period after loan origination.
- Establishment of a 30-Day exclusivity window for Main Street businesses
- Expansion of eligible use of funds
Building the Team for SBDC Facebook Live
The SBDC Facebook Live program has both a presenter and a host. The presenter develops and delivers the content, providing the expertise behind the subject matter. The host manages the platform, does the introductions, arranges and manages any guest speakers, as well as introducing and facilitating each session.
John DeGaetano, the presenter since launch, is a seasoned SBDC advisor who has helped thousands of new and existing business owners with finance, sales, and disaster planning. With a background in banking, he has been the fountain of information, helping businesses navigate COVID and other loans, changes in rules and regulations, or share stories about how businesses are adapting.
Ed Troxell is a Facebook Live and social media expert and has supported John as host. Ed has continued to keep the show rolling, providing helpful business tips and supporting the content production, as well as all the preparatory underpinnings of the show.
Recipe for LIVE Success
The ingredients for success take place in both the content and the back-end management to run the show properly. Ideally, having both a host and a presenter works best, since each are responsible for different aspects of the show.
5 Tips for Managing Facebook Live
- Promote the broadcast ahead of time.
- Be sure to have a strong, dependable internet connection.
- Make sure the lighting is right. Face a window for best lighting.
- Create a sign-off which includes a call to action. For instance, as Ed thanks viewers for watching, he also reminds them that they can sign up for SBDC services on the SBDC website.
- Use the video afterward. Share it to your Facebook timeline and share it on any other social channels you use.
5 Tips for Delivering Great Content
What’s the secret of delivering good content? Content gives viewers the reason to watch.
- Share important updates – what info do your viewers want or need?
- Have ready talking points – this is live, so while you don’t want to read a script, having ready talking points will help you stay on point.
- Interact! Leave time for Q&A and call out commenters by name.
- Be genuine in your presenting. Facebook is best for making personal connections, so be casual and personal.
- Do a practice run. Facebook Live lets you run in private mode so you can see and hear exactly what your video will look like before others see it.
Next Steps for your Small Business
- Join us to watch the SBDC Facebook LIVE program, every 2nd and 4th Tuesday at 10 am at facebook.com/NapaSonomaSBDC
- If you are interested in being a featured guest or wish to share your SBDC business story, call 707-595-0060 for dates and details.
- Need help with your plan for social media and livestreaming? Contact the SBDC for free one-to-one expert advising. Sign up at napasonomasbdc.org