Since Spring 2016, Facebook users have had the option to broadcast live videos to their friends and followers. Live videos are expected to be more personal, candid, and off-the-cuff, so they’re a great option for when you want to add some personality to your Facebook page. Not to mention, they’re pretty darn effective. Live videos tend to receive 10x better engagement than pre-recorded video. They make watching a stream into an event. It’s a “you had to be there”-type experience. Viewers have the option to leave comments and reactions that appear on-screen in real-time, further adding to the social experience that is Facebook Live.
However, while there are certainly many benefits to livestreaming, it’s not always practical. Maybe you’re not available at the optimal times that you’d want to stream. Or maybe you’re just afraid of saying something dumb in front of a live audience.
The good news is that you don’t really need go live to use Facebook Live. Confused? Don’t be.
In this article, we’re breaking down two options that let you stream pre-recorded videos to Facebook Live.
Option #1: Costs Some Coin, but Simple to Use
Cloud-based services like LiveReacting and OneStream allow you to upload your pre-recorded videos and schedule them to be posted at a later time to your streaming destination of choice, including Facebook Live. With this option, you can schedule your recordings to stream whenever you want them to, allowing you to create a bunch of content at the time that works for you, then release it according to your content schedule.
These services are designed to be used specifically for this purpose, which means that they’re user-friendly and you’ll have a support team at your disposal if something does go wrong.
Pricing for one of these services starts around $10 per month, and you get the piece of mind knowing that your stream will go off without a hitch.
Option #2: Free, but Requires More Legwork
Now, there is a second option for the more tech-savvy among us who’d rather put in a bit of extra effort to avoid the monthly subscription fees.
This method uses an open source platform called OBS (Open Broadcaster Software) to pre-record and stream video. Let’s go through the steps:
1. First, we’re going to need your streaming code from Facebook. This will allow us to host your pre-recorded video through OBS. Find and copy your streaming code by going to your FB page and clicking Publishing Tools > Video Library > +Live. Your stream key will expire after 24 hours, and it can be used for only one streaming session. You’ll need a new key for each new session.
2. Click on Preview to bring up the “Create Live Video” screen, and keep this tab open. We’ll need it when we’re ready to go live.
3. Now, it’s time to download and open OBS Studio.
4. Go to File>Settings>Stream.
5. Select Facebook Live as the Service.
6. Here’s where we’ll use that stream key you copied in step 1. Paste it into the stream key field. Save your changes, and exit the settings menu.
7. Now, we’ll select some pre-recorded video and create a playlist. A playlist can be comprised of one or more videos, but for our purposes, we’ll stick to one video since we want it to look organic and unedited. Find the Sources field at the bottom of your screen, click the + icon, and click Media Source.
8. A small dialog box will appear. Here, you can name your media source and click Okay.
9. Next, a larger dialog box will pop up. Here, you can browse local files and select a pre-recorded video to use for your livestream.
10. Once you’re back on the main window, you should see your video preview.
11. Make sure to mute the Mic/Aux. Otherwise, your Facebook viewers will be able to hear audio from your microphone.
12. Click on Start Streaming.
13. Go to your Facebook window (which should still be open), click to make sure your video preview is displayed in the window, and click Go Live to broadcast your video.
14. When the video ends, you’ll need to manually end the Facebook Live stream at the same time. If you fail to do so, your video will continue on a loop until the stream is ended.
There is much more room for error if you decide to go this route, and you’ll have to do a lot of the work manually. You can’t just set it and forget it like you can with option #1. However, if you’re looking for a way to broadcast some old video content or just want to avoid the unpredictability of live recording, this method gets the job done.
As with most other social media initiatives, streaming live is all about consistency. Maybe you’ll only get a handful of viewers on your first stream (or your second, or your third…), but if you stick with it, you will see results. Using pre-recorded videos can help you stay consistent and keep the quality of your content high so that more and more viewers will tune in over time. It’s just one more strategy that can help you stay ahead of the game.