Live streaming on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram can help you create connections with supporters and get the word out quickly during shelter and rescue emergencies, but the prospect of live video can feel daunting. However, creating a successful live stream doesn’t need to be complicated.
Jennifer Held, Operations Manager for Norfolk Animal Care & Adoption Center in Norfolk, VA, has been using Facebook Live regularly, to communicate urgent needs and introduce pets who need fosters and adopters. “We get a great response from each of the videos,” she tells us. “Live videos show the community when we are full and we always see an increase in foot traffic for two to three days after the video.”
Ready to go live? Here are seven tips for making the most out of it:
- Be prepared. Before you start filming, jot down major points you’d like to make in the video. Make sure your background and any pets’ kennels that will be filmed are clean. “Familiarize yourself with the animals BEFORE you start,” Held tells us. “Try to go live an hour or two before your adoption hours start. That way you can show the customers the most up to date available animals. It also creates a sense of urgency if they are interested in a highly adoptable pet.”
- Make sure the camera is on a pet or something else that’s interesting and related to your emergency before your start recording. Within the first few seconds, viewers will decide whether to keep watching your video, so grab their attention as quickly as you can.
- Narrate your video! It will help keep people interested and will help them to understand what is happening on the screen. If possible, answer simple questions in real time for maximum audience engagement.
- Communicate clearly. Make sure sound and picture quality are high. “The camera should be steady. Some people may get nauseous if the camera shakes too much,” Held says. “Try not to do a live when you have a heavy dog walking presence because it will be loud and people may complain that they can’t hear you.”
- Tell them and show them why you need their help. Is your shelter or rescue doubling up dogs in kennels due to lack of space? Are you so full that pets in crates are being placed in common areas and meeting rooms? Showing them will help your supporters to emotionally connect with your organization, which can motivate them to act.
- Write the basics of your plea in the post’s text, including your call to action. Even if you discuss it in the live video, type out your plea and tell supporters where to sign up in the text of the post. This will help people understand what you need and will make it easy for them to find information they need without having to scroll or grab paper and pen.
- Introduce the pets who need adopters, fosters or rescue. This will help your supporters connect with them emotionally. Explain why each is needed and how their help will benefit the pets your shelter or rescue. Held says, “Talk about the animals that are available for foster and in need of rescue, not just adoptable.”
Just as importantly, says Held, “The communication doesn’t end when the video does. Always go back and engage in the post and try to answer questions or refer them to where they can find more information.”