While the simple pleasures of Chewbacca Mom may still reign supreme on Facebook Live, you don’t have to be a Wookie to rock this emerging social platform. You might just need some cake.
Just ask Wilton, the leading cake decorating and bakeware company in the United States. Wilton started a Facebook Live series last summer that’s quickly become a must-watch for bakers and cake artists worldwide. Social media marketing manager Lulette Gehron explains: “We started doing the series because Facebook’s organic reach has really dwindled. So to reach new customers and get the word out, we thought we might as well utilize Facebook’s new feature.”
Now, their Tuesday tutorials regularly draw crowds of up to 80,000 viewers—including replays. “It’s become a critical thing for us to keep our engagement,” says Gehron.
Here are five tips to creating a killer Facebook Live tutorial, drawn from the success lessons learned by Gehron and team.
1. Choose your host wisely
Finding the right host is crucial. “You want to put a subject matter expert in that space,” says Gehron. “They need to be able to answer questions on the fly.”
Think about finding a natural performer. Desiree Smith, the host of Wilton’s videos, is the company’s PR manager, with a background in broadcast journalism. She’s accustomed to being in front of a camera and was the natural fit for the brand. Look for yours.
2. Improvise when things go wrong
Smith says that being a host takes a combination of good preparation and the fine art of winging it. “Have an idea of what you’re going to speak about, have some speaking points,” she advises. “But it isn’t good to have a script because it doesn’t come across as natural.”
This is live video, and things will inevitably go wrong from time to time. Don’t try to cover up your fails. “If things go wrong, call it out immediately,” she says. “If you try to hide it, it’ll just look worse.”
Recently, while filming a cake decorating video, the warm room temperature made Smith’s icing far softer than it should have been. “As soon as I piped the first flower, I thought, ‘Oh, this isn’t going to look great.’” So she pivoted immediately and used the moment to discuss what to do when your buttercream goes soft. “I turned it into another teaching moment.”
By calling out the quirks, she says, there has been a significant reduction in negative comments. Viewers draw closer to you and enjoy the experience more—so embrace your flaws.
3. Be consistent
They’re truly thinking like a TV station over at Wilton’s makeshift Facebook Live studios. Their video series began in the summer of 2016 and they’ve kept it at a brisk weekly pace ever since—with an editorial calendar of content planned four months out.
“By doing it regularly, we’re seeing people really tuning it,” says Gehron. “Viewers know that Tuesdays at 2:30 p.m. CST, they can learn something new about cake decorating.” The pair chose the 30-minute time length after some experimentation. “We’ve done 15 minutes before, but 30 minutes is the sweet spot where you get people coming in and you can really get their attention. People have short attention spans, though; if you take an hour, it’s a lot of their time to ask for.”
4. Interact with viewers throughout
As well as wielding the phone, Gehron curates the proceedings, calling out comments as they appear, and asking those questions directly to Smith. This helps viewers feel involved and part of the event—it also encourages more comments to pile in, driving up the algorithms.
But they highly recommend making sure any product information or important details are linked in the description below the live video before you begin. As Gehron explains: “After doing Facebook Live for a while, people would say, where’s the link to the recipe? We would send it to them after, but it takes a while to do that.” Now, they make sure that all relevant links are at the ready below the description.
4. Use promotions—and cross-promote
Many companies will offer time-sensitive promo codes during their sessions on Facebook Live. The team at Wilton often tie their video into a Deal of the Day. “We see spikes in sales when we do that,” says Gehron.
And they cross-promote religiously. Prior to the Facebook Live segment, Smith will upload a short promo to Snapchat and Instagram. This is followed by the post-live clip: “In case you missed our Facebook Live, go to our page and watch the replay.”
Reach out to like-minded businesses to suggest cross-promotions: Wilton also hosts Facebook Live sessions with Country Living Magazine and other channels, bringing the delights of cake-decorating to ever-broadening audiences.
5. Focus on your audience’s needs
Ultimately, the incredible value that lies in Facebook’s Live platform is the chance it offers to communicate directly with your fan base and customers and understand their needs. “People will tell us what they want to learn about,” explains Gehron. “They say, for example, next time, can you talk about buttercream or a chocolate ganache? It makes us think more about what we’re putting out there.”
By using Facebook Live to teach your audience, you can help them understand the value of your products and services—and you can learn who they are and what they genuinely want from you. The teaching goes two ways and will help you build a rabid fan base who’ll follow you anywhere.