In so many ways, Facebook is an incredible tool for churches to reach people. When it comes to streaming, however, Facebook Live isn’t really the perfect solution for ministries.
Whether you get kicked off mid-broadcast, experience a substantial reduction of your camera’s quality, lose viewership due to competing content, or have trouble getting a hold of anyone if something goes wrong, the reality is that Facebook Live isn’t really an ideal streaming application for your church.
Below, we’ll dive a bit deeper into each of these issues, but if any questions come up within your specific context, feel free to set up a time to chat with me one on one and I’d be happy to help!
Getting Kicked Off
Your church takes licensing and copyright issues seriously. You’ve taken the necessary steps to legally acquire a streaming license and you’re absolutely certain that you are in no way violating the intellectual property of others. Yet, even with all of this in place, your Facebook Live broadcast begins and almost immediately it abruptly ends. You’ve just been kicked off of Facebook Live.
So what happened!?!?
Even if you’re covered legally to stream certain types of music, Facebook Live functions with the assumption that you don’t have rights to use copyrighted music in your video. Perhaps you play a song lightly in the background as folks walk into your Sunday Service or maybe your worship band plays a song in the exact key and tempo of a popular recording. Facebook has an algorithm to kick broadcasters off immediately with no appeal process when it detects that copyrighted music (or music that sounds like it) is being used.
Once your broadcast has been cancelled, it is deleted and your account can be blocked from streaming for up to a month, with some broadcasters claiming to receive an even longer indefinite block. Some churches stream for months without problems and then suddenly experience broadcast termination regularly without changing anything to their workflow. Such a scenario is obviously not ideal for your ministry or your broadcast viewers.
Getting Your Quality Reduced
Even if your camera is capable of outputting a beautiful 1080p resolution video feed, Facebook Live’s maximum streaming resolution is 720p. Beyond lowering your resolution, a large majority of Facebook streamers are broadcasting from the cameras on their smartphones or tablets because that’s the easiest way to stream on Facebook Live. Overall, if excellent video quality is your goal, then it might be worthwhile to take a look at a higher resolution streaming solution that allows plug and play input from a “pro-sumer” quality level camera.
Getting Lost In The Shuffle
“Senator, we run ads.” – Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook Founder & CEO
Yep, if you’re unaware, Facebook makes money through advertisements. What does this mean for your broadcasts? Well, expect custom ads that appeal to each individual user to distract them from watching your live stream on Facebook. Beyond this, Facebook’s entire user experience is designed to continually scroll through and refresh content. Put all of this together and you’ll find that there’s quite a bit of competing material to divert the attention of your viewers from your church service to other (often less important) things.
Getting Less Outreach Than You Think
Nearly everyone uses the internet, yet not everyone uses Facebook. Though Facebook is huge, most in your community will never visit your Facebook page. Beyond people who don’t use Facebook, a lot of Facebook users rarely log on or are often inactive. For those who are active, Facebook is a socially focused site. In other words, on Facebook, people look up people more so than they look up organizations. If they have hundreds (or thousands) of friends, chances are they’ll focus on them rather than you. Finally, Facebook caters to users with short attention spans, so people are less likely to commit a long duration of their time to your broadcast, and thus are less likely to have a meaningful experience with your live content.
Going Through It Alone
Facebook is a free service and Facebook Live is a free offering. When problems arise with live streaming, the best way to correct an issue is often to speak one on one with an expert. With Facebook Live, technical support isn’t an option, but there are services out there (like ours) that have technical experts ready and waiting more than 12 hours a day to both train you and support you whenever technical hiccups or stubbed toes sporadically occur.
Finding The Perfect Provider
A few years ago, BoxCast chose to team up with Sharefaith in efforts to offer the most affordable and ministry practical live streaming offering out there. We allow churches to stream live to not only their websites, but to Facebook, YouTube, Periscope, AppleTV, Roku, and beyond. We do this without compromising quality and allow ministries to plug in whatever audio and video sources that are easiest for them. In our model, Facebook Live is the perfect secondary streaming application to pair with a number of other venues, though for aforementioned reasons, it’s not really the ultimate and final streaming solution for churches.
Thanks so much for reading and happy streaming!