How should you prepare for a live broadcast on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram? What equipment do you need, and how should you manage your live workflow?

Essential equipment

  • Your smartphone – with plenty of space so the live broadcast will save to your Camera Roll
  • A tripod, tripod mount and external microphone if you are able to work with a colleague
  • Selfie stick if you are going live on your own
  • An external clip microphone or hand-held microphone
  • An external power bank to keep your smartphone charged for long broadcasts

Optional equipment

  • Teradek is a company that offers a range of equipment and pricing options for going live from a smartphone, from solo smartphone broadcasts from a smartphone with its Live: Air app, up to hardware to support high-quality broadcasts from smartphones and television cameras. You can add pre-recorded video and other elements to your broadcast.
  • An iOS app called Switcher Studio makes it possible to connect up to nine wireless devices to create multi-camera broadcasts using several phones. You can also bring pre-recorded video into your broadcast.

Best practice

  • Work in pairs – one person behind the camera monitoring the recording and keeping you and your guests in focus, and one person doing the interviews and monitoring audience comments on a second phone.
  • Prepare bullet point questions for your guests
  • Unless it is breaking news, plan and rehearse your live. Where will you stand? Who will you interview? What will you show the audience?
  • Decide how you will involve the audience. Ask for comments on an issue, or questions for an interviewee.
  • Have some pre-planned things you can talk about or point to if your guest is late or runs out of things to say.
  • Promote upcoming lives on your Facebook Page and on other social networks so your audience knows it’s happening.
  • Do a private test broadcast first to check your internet connection.
  • If sustaining a video live is difficult due to internet connectivity, consider an audio-only live instead.
  • Know how to mute and block viewers who leave inappropriate or off-topic comments.
  • Aim for a minimum broadcast of 7 minutes, to allow your audience to join and begin to interact.
  • Set your broadcast to save to your Camera Roll so you can re-use the video later.
  • Fully charge your phone and plug it into a battery pack if you have one.

Live broadcast examples

This Facebook Live by the BBC just after the Trump election victory is an excellent example of best practice. There is a journalist behind the camera-phone filming, while the presenter does live interviews and has a second phone to monitor and respond to comments.

The Dutch broadcaster Omrop Fryslân produced a Facebook Live in December 2017 looking back on events of the past year. The broadcast was made by one journalist, Wytse Vellinga, who told Journalism.Co.Uk he made the show with three iPhones, an iPad, two hand-held Go Mic Mobile microphones and Teradek Live Air.

Tips and resources

Facebook Live

Instagram Live

  • Jumper Media has an excellent simple guide to Instagram Live with a smartphone, including examples of best practice and tips for promoting your broadcast and engaging with your audience
  • Guide to adding a guest to an Instagram Live
  • Guide to saving an Instagram Live to your Camera Roll

Twitter Live (Periscope)

Twitter acquired the live-streaming service Periscope in 2016, so there are two ways to go live via Twitter – first, through the Twitter app, and second, through the Periscope app. Both methods use Periscope as a live streaming provider, and it’s worth noting that this can be more stable than Facebook if you’re using mobile data.

We recommend that instead of going live from Twitter, you download and use the Periscope app (iOS / Android).

This app offers a wide range of features that aren’t available in the Twitter app – including comment moderation, groups creation, and even an optical image stabilisation tool to reduce shakiness. When your live video ends, it will save to Periscope’s website, from where you can access and download your past broadcasts indefinitely. For more information, read Periscope’s guide to going live.