Everything You Need to Know About Facebook and Instagram Live

Facebook and Instagram lives are more popular than ever and a really personal way to address and engage your audiences no matter how big or small. By 2021, it’s suggested that mobile video will account for 78% of total mobile data traffic, and so platforms are improving this section of their offerings as much as possible.

So what will you need? We’ll start with Facebook.


What do I need to get started on Facebook Live?

Let’s first take a look at how to start your own live video. Unless you’re broadcasting via the Live API, you’ll just need the following:

  1. A WiFi or data connection
  2. A smartphone or desktop
  3. A Pages Manager, Facebook Creator app, Facebook app (mobile), or logged in to Facebook from a browser (desktop)

Live videos begin to lose viewers when the connection is weak or the broadcast is delayed or blurry, as let’s face it, who wants to watch that kind of broadcast? Facebook Live should only really be used if you have a strong WiFi or 4G connection (faster than faster than 10 mbps). You can easily check the strength of your connection using a mobile app. If your signal isn’t strong enough, you’ll notice that the Go Live button is grey to give you a nudge that your connection is weak.

Most people will use their Facebook app on a mobile device to do their broadcast. Here’s what you need to do:

Step 1: Tap the Live icon at the top of your screen.

Step 2: Add a description and choose your audience before clicking Go Live. You’ll see a three-second countdown before your broadcast begins.

Off you go!

How much time do you have for your Facebook Live broadcast?

This is based on what you’re trying to achieve and the amount of time you have to dedicate to your broadcast. This can be anywhere between 5 minutes and the maximum 4 hours. The longer the broadcast, the more chance people will have to join in, invite other people etc. Although you can do short live broadcasts on Facebook, it’s recommended that your live is at least ten minutes to be able to derive some meaningful engagement (and analysis) from it.

What should I say on my Facebook Live?

Along with choosing the right format for your broadcast, finding relevant topics that your fans and followers will find interesting is important, too. The topics people talk about when they go Live can vary depending on whether it’s a personal or professional broadcast.

Creating and Crafting Your Content

A basic structure for your Facebook Live

Live broadcasts give you the power to create content in a variety of ways, so it’s really up to you to decide how you want to engage your community. Like planning any content of this type, It needs a beginning, a middle and an end.

Beginning  – Introduce yourself, what you’ll be discussing/doing and People will gradually join so it’s useful to introduce yourself at this point to fill in some time, welcome the people who are already participating and set out what you’ll be covering on your live.

Middle –  Your topic, answering any questions etc (we’ll speak more on this in the next section)

End – Don’t just shut off the live. This is where you can make every second count. Say bye, thank your viewers for joining you, even direct them to your next live (if you know when that will be) or encourage them to follow you on other social platforms/visit your website. It really is up to you and what you’d like to get out of it.

What do you want to say on your Facebook Live?

Here are some ideas for the style of content you might want to create using the features at your disposal.

  • Share what’s on your mind: your thoughts on a topic or reaction to a situation.
  • Q&A sessions: Answering live questions from your followers is a great way to engage with them and helps to build a personal connection. It’s often a good idea to ask people to submit questions ahead of time so that you know you’ve got some definite content to work with.
  • Interview someone: Broadcast an interview with your friends, colleagues, or experts for people to watch and engage with.
  • Reporting something significant: Share your experience of something newsworthy first hand, so that your followers can experience it with you.
  • Perform live: There has been an increase in this type of content during lockdown, with artists and performers doing lives so that millions of people can attend what appears to be an intimate gig even if the audience size doesn’t reflect that.
  • Give a glimpse behind the scenes. Social media content is often so carefully created it can be more engaging to offer a more raw, unfiltered experience.
  • Watch parties: We’re all using tech to host quizzes, dine together and generally feel a sense of togetherness whilst the (physical) opposite is untrue. Use this feature to watch your favorite show, film, or event with your community.
  • Demonstrate a skill: Teach people how to cook, play music, learn how to create something…the list is infinite.
  • Host a reading: Share a chapter from your newest book, poem, script etc. You could even use it to host a book club where everyone has read the book, you read a chapter and discuss!
  • Gaming fanatic? Share gaming experiences with other gamers. It’s easy to invite your followers to watch you play and then share tactics in real time with other like-minded people.

So you have the set up, you have the topic, you’re ready!

Get a more professional set up for your Facebook live stream

The Live API allows you to create stories on Facebook using live video content from a variety of sources. This allows you to go beyond mobile device cameras and bring in video from professional cameras, multi-camera setups, and programmatic sources such as games or screencasts.

Building anticipation with a scheduled live

A great way to get your audience excited for your live is to plan your broadcasts ahead of time. Use Scheduled Live to let people opt in to get in-app notifications to remind them when you’re going live. They can tap Get Reminder to receive the notification. This can also help to increase your audience when the live takes place.

A few minutes before your broadcast officially starts, people who tapped Get Reminder will be prompted to join the lobby (a communal place to virtually wait for your broadcast to start). The lobby is interactive and people can chat with fellow members of your audience while they wait. 

To use Scheduled Live, you must schedule a broadcast on desktop from your Page’s Publisher Tools and then broadcast via the Live API.

Go Live With

‘Live With’ is a feature that allows you to invite another person into your Facebook Live broadcast so you can share the screen and engage your audiences together. Your guest will be automatically tagged in the post and their audience will get a notification.

It’s important to know at this point that you can only go live with a guest via a mobile device (phone or tablet).

What if you don’t want to do video?

For some of us, the thought of being on camera in front of people can make our blood run cold or it might be that your story doesn’t lend itself to visuals and you want your followers and fans to focus on your words. Or maybe you don’t have a very strong WiFi or data connection to go live with video. Whatever the reason, there is the option for an audio-only live broadcast. Just as with a live video on Facebook, people can still discover your audio-only content in News Feed, ask questions, and leave comments in real time.

As there’s nothing to visually engage with, it’s a nice little feature that with this type of content,  listeners will be able to continue listening as they browse other parts of Facebook (iOS users only at time of writing). In addition to writing a description to explain what your content is about, there’s also the option to add a display photo which is what people will see when they tune in.

To use audio only, you’ll follow the steps we outlined earlier as if you were going live with video, except you’ll tap the microphone icon at the top of your mobile device before you tap on Go Live.

Adding visual effects

Do you feel more comfortable using a filter or do you feel like some bunny ears bring something to your broadcast? To use the selection of themes – including masks, filters, and doodles – simply tap the magic wand icon in the top-right corner of your screen at any time, and select from the options that appear at the bottom.


Whether you’re doing your live broadcasts for business or just for enjoyment, it’s interesting to see how your broadcast performs. This data can help you to shape the direction your future broadcasts should take to make sure it’s something that your audience will love.

What to do after your Facebook Live

Save the recording.

Once your live has ended, Facebook will give you two options –  delete or publish the video to your page. We’re assuming you’re intending on building an archive of content so we recommend that you choose to publish as you can choose to delete at any time once it’s been initially saved but if you choose to delete immediately after broadcast you won’t be able to retrieve the recording.

If you choose to publish the video, this allows people who weren’t able to watch the broadcast live to access it at their convenience and means that any time in the future other people can view and share the video and continue to add to your metrics.

Do you want to update the description?

Often, something can happen or a discussion point can come up which might change the direction of your live, meaning that there needs to be a different or more accurate description . 

To edit the description, tap ‘Edit’ on the video post and change your description to something that encapsulates the content more perfectly.


The principles of an Instagram Live are fundamentally the same as those we’ve described for Facebook, but there are a few differences.

How do I use Instagram Live?

To start a live video from the Instagram app:

  • Tap the camera symbol in the top left of your feed or swipe right from anywhere in Feed.
  • Scroll down to ‘Live’ at the bottom of the screen, then tap the ‘live’ symbol to begin your broadcast. Instagram will notify people that your live broadcast is beginning.
  • The number of people viewing will appear at the top of the screen and any comments made will scroll up from the bottom.
  • All done? Tap ‘End’ in the top right corner of your screen when you would like to end the broadcast and then tap again to confirm. From there, you can tap the arrow icon in the top left to save it to your camera roll, or you can share it to your story.

Features and settings to use in your Instagram Live

  • You can add a comment by tapping ‘Comment’ at the bottom of the screen and can pin your comment simply by tapping ‘Pin Comment’ to pin it so that viewers can see your topic/general information about your broadcast.
  • To turn comments off, tap the menu symbol and then select ‘Turn Off Commenting’.
  • You can share questions that are submitted during your live by pressing the ‘?’ icon at the bottom of your screen.
  • You can Direct Message someone in the usual way, by tapping the paper plane icon at the bottom of the screen.
  • As with  Facebook live, you can apply filters to your Instagram Live. It’s probably best for you to have chosen one pre-broadcast so you’re not trying to choose in front of an audience unless that’s a planned part of your live!
  • You can even share images and video from your camera roll! Tap the camera roll in the bottom right corner of your screen. Your live stream video will move to the top of the screen on top of the media you’ve just selected.

Collaborating using Instagram Live

  • Tap the two faces icon at the bottom of your screen to invite someone in to co-host your live broadcast. 
  • Sometimes your viewers want to try to join in…want to turn off requests to go live? Go to the menu symbol and tap ‘Turn Off Requests To Go Live’.

How long can you broadcast on Instagram Live for?

You can broadcast for up to 1 hour.

Where does my content go once the live video has ended? 

You can share a replay of your Instagram Live to your story and it’ll be there for a maximum of 24 hours or you can save it for further use. It’s important to be aware that if you save your recording to your camera roll, only the video will be saved, comments, likes and viewer numbers will be lost. 

Your recorded live can be easily repurposed into 15 second clips for Stories, 60 second clips for feed video or longer content and used for IGTV.


From your original live, you can see how many people joined to watch you. By adding the replay to your Stories you will be able to access the range of insights you can normally view for Stories too.

Making the best of your live broadcast

Whichever platform you choose for your live broadcast, there are a couple of other things to bear in mind


The beauty of a live broadcast is the real-time engagement with your audience. So by answering or acknowledging your audience (as specifically as using their names), you’re building a great connection with them. 

Pinned posts

You can pin a post on your feed as a reminder of the topic you’re talking about or question you’re asking so that your audience can refer back to it at any time.

Filming accessories

Don’t have a pro set up? That’s ok. You can still level up your production using some affordable and accessible additions such as microphones, lights and tripods.

When should I go Live?

Pick the time you think your audience is most active. The more live broadcasts that you do, the more data you’ll be able to use to pick the most perfect time to engage that won’t clash with work, children’s bedtimes, mealtimes or even the timezones your followers live in. Remember that it’s not an exact science and each audience will be different

Where should I go Live?

Backdrop is pretty important and needs to be reflective of your brand:

  • busy or clean aesthetic?
  • Somewhere you won’t really be interrupted
  • Lighting needs to be a consideration whether it’s natural or artificial. People need to be able to see you!

What live broadcasts offer

Ultimately you can get a lot out of Facebook and Instagram Live broadcasts.  They can increase engagement levels with your followers, acting as a further way to speak directly to followers and increase audience, leads and sales depending on what your business is.

It’s a cost and time efficient way to get your content out in front of your audience and you don’t need much more than your phone to get started!