As mobile devices become even more powerful and sophisticated and data coverage expands, live streaming on social media is quickly becoming a go-to way to share exciting moments as they happen. While YouTube and Periscope have pioneered social live streaming on their respective platforms, Facebook’s roll-out of Facebook Live last year is arguably the most important release for one significant reason: Facebook’s 1.04 billion active users, which make it still the largest social media channel. From political events to Rio Olympics, Facebook Live is bringing the excitement of live events to users all over the world.

While video content generally performs well on Facebook, Facebook Live looks to be even more promising, as the network’s algorithm weights live video more heavily than regular video, photo or text-based posts; by “weight,” we mean Facebook shows that content to more people. Our partners, for example, have reported up that their live video posts have had up to 22 times the reach of photo posts. As newsfeeds get even more crowded, taking Facebook’s algorithm preferences into consideration is smart strategy, so if your goal is to share special moments from your race with as many as people as possible, Facebook Live should be a key part of your race day social media plan.

Read on for our Facebook Live best practices and quick tips for successful live broadcasting on social media.

Make a plan for live event coverage on social media

Facebook Live ChronoTrack_3Like with so many other parts of producing a race, the more organized and prepared you are, the greater your chances are to be successful and have opportunities to be spontaneous. Social media is no exception. Add to your checklist to work with your social media and/or marketing folks to create a race day social media plan, which not only will solidify your strategy for which social media channels you’ll use and which post formats you’ll choose but also help identify your resource needs.

Create a shot list

As part of your social media plan, include a list of the moments you want to capture on race day and then from there, the ways in which you want to share them. Knowing the shot you want and the medium in which you want it will help determine who is responsible for capturing that shot. If someone on your staff has videography experience, for example, they obviously would be the prime person to film the starting gun going off.

Being able to “divide and conquer” on social media coverage could be an ideal scenario, however; in reality, you might have only one person who could cover the event on social media. In that case, creating your shot list will help you prioritize the moments you want to share so that you make the most of your limited resources and focus on your strongest assets. In other words, with limited resources you may be better off using video and live video to share key moments because your race is only on Facebook and Twitter and we know video is most successful on these networks.

Some moments that you’ll generally want to highlight include:

  • Start of the race
  • Iconic locations on course
  • “Athletes to Watch” — anyone from elites, to human interest stories, to oldest/youngest participants
  • Finish line, particularly the “Athletes to Watch”

Facebook Live ChronoTrack_2All of these moments would be well-suited to Facebook Live coverage, so depending on staffing resources, you could assign a person to broadcast them using Facebook Live and another to snap photos for Instagram or Snapchat, for example. As we made the point before though, if you have to pick, choose the channels that are strongest for you instead of trying to be on every channel. Experiment with a mix of mediums if you’re able, and then review your coverage’s performance to see which medium performed best with your audience. Knowing Facebook’s preferences for video, and live video in particular, consider making that the preferred content medium if you don’t have the option of experimenting.

Groom your “talent” for the camera

Besides key moments from the actual race, think about using Facebook Live to provide pre-race updates to your audience like Boulder Peak Tri did before their 2016 race. Here, a personal touch goes a long way toward attracting and retaining viewers: rather than simply broadcasting your athlete meeting, set up your “face of the race” (race director or lead staff member) to deliver these important race messages “one on one” to your audience.

Again, preparation is important, so have three to five bullet point messages for your staffer to deliver on camera and do a dry run if needed to practice and release any on-camera jitters.

Give your audience a heads-up

If you plan to broadcast portions of the race with Facebook Live, prime your fans to tune in by posting what and when you’ll be broadcasting. If you plan on sharing multiple live broadcasts, you could do this pre-promotion all in one post.

You can also cross-promote your broadcasts by tweeting your Facebook Live schedule and the link to your Facebook page.


Write a descriptive and engaging caption

Increase the likelihood that people will watch your video by including a descriptive caption that clearly explains what you’re filming. Viewers understandably are less likely to watch something that has a vague or absent description, so don’t skip this step or wait to add it in later!

Another thing to keep in mind — because the video will live on your page after the live broadcast concludes, you’ll want the caption to make sense to users who discover your video after the fact or at an even later date.

As with any other post, make sure that your caption reflects your brand voice and any brand guidelines or hashtags you observe.

Hold your phone vertically when recording

When filming with Facebook Live, hold your phone vertically (portrait orientation). Holding your phone sideways will upload the video sideways, and making your viewers turn their heads to the side is SO not user-friendly.

Make the first three seconds count

Facebook counts a video view once three seconds have elapsed, which means the first few moments of your video are critical not just for retaining viewers beyond the three-second mark but for the remainder of the video. After all, video content can’t truly be considered successful if most viewers drop off after four seconds.

To start your video off strong:

  1. Have your phone in position and steady so that the first few seconds are crisp and focused on the subject of your video.
  2. Don’t start broadcasting until the action begins or is just about to begin. Viewers won’t wait around long for something to happen, so be careful of rolling the cameras too early.
  3. If you’re waiting for the action to begin, channel your inner field correspondent and film a race staffer (or yourself) explaining what’s about to happen.

Know when to call “Cut!”

Sometimes the hardest thing about shooting a video is knowing when to end it. Facebook recommends broadcasting for at least 10 minutes, but we’ve found that completion rates significantly drop after the six to seven-minute mark. With these guidelines in mind, experiment with video length to see how your completion rates fare with shorter or longer videos. But ultimately, your content is going to determine how long viewers keep watching, so focus most on keeping the quality high rather than hitting a specific video length.

Looking for more tips on running social media for your event? Check out our Race Director’s Guide to Social Media and/or the Advanced Guide.