Written by: Jayson DeMers, Forbes Contributor

Facebook, never one to remain stagnant for more than a few weeks, has introduced a new feature for its users, capitalizing on the recent trends of online video consumption and in-the-moment updates. It’s called Facebook Live, and it has the potential to change the way marketers and consumers approach the platform—not to mention influencing most of the platform’s contemporaries.

Understanding Facebook Live is key if you’re a social media marketer; even if you don’t plan on using it, or Facebook in general, it marks an important trend in the social media and mobile technology worlds.

Basics of Facebook Live

On the surface, Facebook Live is a basic feature that offers live-streaming video capabilities to users. By tapping the live stream icon, you can start broadcasting video live from your smartphone, and write an optional description for the event. Any users following you will have the ability to “tune in” to the broadcast. At the end of the video, you can tap “finish” to complete the video, at which point it will be posted as a permanently available feature on your timeline. The maximum time limit for a broadcast is currently 30 minutes, and you can block specific users if you desire.

At a glance, you’ll notice this live-streaming feature is markedly similar to other products on the market, such as Periscope and Meerkat, which uniquely offered live-streaming video for their users. However, there are a few key differences with Facebook Live, most notably being the ability for the video to be retrieved at any time and the association with other features of the app.

How to Use Facebook Live

You can probably think of a number of potential broadcasting opportunities already; you might live-stream a major company announcement, a seminar, or some other participatory event, or you could aim for something more content-intensive like an interview or a whiteboard strategy session.

No matter what angle you take, there are a handful of best practices you’ll need to keep in mind:

  • Attract more followers. Users that follow you will be notified when you go live with a broadcast, so try to attract more regular “followers” on the platform. You can do so by presenting a quality live stream experience that your viewers enjoy.
  • Let your users know in advance that you’re planning to broadcast. It won’t do you much good to broadcast if nobody’s prepared for it. Make an announcement—preferably several announcements—in advance to let your users know what they can expect.
  • Check your connection. When you get ready to live stream, double check your connection speed and reliability, and use Wi-Fi if you can. The last thing you want is for your stream to cut out in the middle of an important moment.
  • Write an awesome headline. It’s technically not a headline, but a description. Either way, it’s what people will read before they decide to tune in, so make sure it’s accurate and compelling enough to encourage participation.
  • Engage with your viewers. Show appreciation to your users and attract new ones by engaging with them. Ask for feedback, respond to questions, and make the experience as participatory as possible.

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