The Facebook LIVE Fast Start Method for Direct Sellers

Photo of David & Susan on the road for their direct sales company
David & Susan on the road for their direct sales company

The Facebook live phenomenon has changed the way direct sales consultants reach their customer base and sell their products. But for new sales consultants, getting started with Facebook Live seems like an unscalable wall. As someone who sells a lot of products via live video, I can tell you that there are two primary keys to success: consistency and engagement. Consistency means that you go live with regularity and never go more than 72 hours without going live (unless you can jump-start your viewership with your own traffic from a source other than Facebook’s organic reach) and that you stick to your live streaming schedule over time. Consistency is rewarded by the Facebook algorithm as long as the engagement piece is also consistent. That is where the Facebook Live Fast Start Method comes in. The Fast Start is all about your initial engagement.

When going live on Facebook, the 1st two minutes are critical to your reach and the ultimate success of your live video. The next 3 minutes are also very important to your reach, so it is important to follow a process each time you go live to ensure your engagement in the first five minutes of your live.

One of the biggest mistakes that people make with Facebook Live video is saying “I’m just going to wait here for a few minutes to give people a chance to get on our ‘live’….” Remember that many, many more people will see your video after it is no longer live than will see it while you actually are live…so waiting for people to get on the video will cause your replay viewers to drop off of the video before you get to the content.

The process to boost your reach with Facebook Live centers around engagement in the first 5 minutes.

Engagement is a combination of a few things:

1) not leaving the video

2) sharing the video

3) commenting on the video

4) using emoticons — thumbs up, hearts, wow faces, sad faces, angry faces (we try to avoid sad and angry faces for the most part — because FB is looking to create a happy environment for users)

Always start with the replay viewer in mind. The first piece in grabbing the replay viewer is to do something that catches their eye when they are scrolling through their feed. You don’t have to dress like a clown or do backflips, but using expressive hand gestures, facial expressions, or even looking a little eccentric (think handlebar mustache, or bow-tie, or lipstick that is a little too bright) — you do not have to look “weird” but by looking engaging (excited/funny) or interesting you increase the chances of someone stopping their scroll to watch your video. If that is too far outside your comfort zone or doesn’t fit with your business/product then do what is right for you and your target customer (I wouldn’t buy financial services from a man in an Elvis costume…but I might buy artworks from a man with beads in his beard).

Once people have made it to your video, the second step to creating engagement is to keep as many people as possible on your video for at least the first 5 minutes. If people are bored they will leave. So you should always have a plan to tell an engaging and/or humorous story right away to compel your viewers to keep watching. It doesn’t have to be some well-planned monologue like a late-night talk show host, but an interesting tidbit about your day or a story about you that people will relate to or find funny. For example, you may tell them that you were in Target today and saw someone in the detergent aisle that looked ridiculous and were making fun of him via text with your spouse only to make it to your car to realize you were walking around with your shirt inside out and your fly unzipped the whole time and that you probably looked just as ridiculous to other shoppers. The point is that you are telling a story, you are not lingering in silence and waiting for people to come that may never arrive. So before you go live, come up with an idea for a short story about your day, something you saw on TV, something about your relationship with your spouse, anything interesting that makes you relatable. Another example: “I love my wife to death, but she drives me crazy by rearranging the kitchen all the time — so I never know where anything is…Today I woke up and made a bowl of Captain Crunch for breakfast before having my 2nd cup of coffee (so I was still sleep-dingy) and I went to the silverware drawer to find that it is now the junk drawer! I searched all over the kitchen to eventually find that silverware is now in a rack inside what was formerly the drinking glasses cabinet; meanwhile, my cereal got soggy while I was looking for the spoons. Can anyone relate to that? Is there some little thing your spouse does that drives you nuts?”

Notice how I asked a question at the end…this elicits comments from anyone watching the video. You want to get your audience commenting right away with comments longer than 4 words, so asking open-ended questions related to your story is a great way to do that. This is the 3rd piece: ask a question that elicits an answer in more than a couple of words. Answers like “yes” and “no” do not help your engagement and can actually hurt you if that is the only kind of commenting you are getting because it will look like engagement baiting to Facebook’s AI. You are trying to establish real interaction with your viewers through asking a question that has a more meaningful answer. A lot of people will ask viewers where they are watching from and this does elicit comments, but it is better if you can get comments that are longer than 1 or 2 words…ideally 5 words or more.

The fourth piece is that you want your audience sharing the video because this sends signals to the Facebook algorithm that your viewers like you content enough to share it with their friends. That is a powerful signal which will be rewarded by FB putting your video into the feed of more viewers. Initially, you want people to share in the first 2-minutes of your live video and anyone who hasn’t shared in the 1st two minutes should be asked again to share within the first 5 minutes. Some people will share just because you ask them to. Others require an incentive to get them to take action. For instance, you could offer to give away a $10 coupon to one of the people who share your video in the 1st two minutes of your video and come back and offer a $5 coupon to one of the people who share your video in the 1st five minutes. You do not have to give something away but you do have to ask people to share or it just won’t happen. Often times, however, giving a coupon is a great way to not only get the share but to also encourage a product purchase…or you can give away something that is free to you but valuable to your audience, like access to a video tutorial — for example, if you are selling make-up you could offer to email someone a video on how to make their lashes look longer and fuller by proper application of one of your products.

The last part of the FB Live Fast Start process is to get your viewers to use their emoticons: Likes, Hearts, Wows, etc. A great way to do this is to ask a question or give them a choice and let them vote with emoticons. For instance, “Would you rather me show ‘product A’ or ‘product B’? …Give me hearts to vote for ‘product A’ and thumbs up for ‘product B’.” This gets them using their emoticons and sends signals to Facebook that your viewers are really engaged with your content and will result in greater reach for your video.

One other piece that should be going on throughout this first 5 minutes of the video is to greet people by name when you see them show up. Greeting people by name makes them feel special and fosters a relationship. It also lets people know you see them on your video and they are more likely to stay because the perception is that you will notice if they leave and they want to please you and will not want to hurt your feelings by leaving. The truth is you can see some people visit your live and other you can’t see because of their privacy settings. And the viewer number you see on your live in never accurate (there are more people watching than FB is telling you because of the privacy settings people have chosen) and people are coming and going all the time, even if you viewers looks to be stable.

Use the Fast Start principles throughout your live video if your viewership or engagement seems to be declining. If you have 25 viewers and that drops to 10 it means people are dropping off and not being replaced by the algorithm. If you can get your remaining viewers to re-engage it will push your live back into people’s feed again. So if your viewers are declining, ask questions that elicit multi-word answers in the comments and ask for shares again. Sometimes a 2nd prize giveaway when viewers are declining will help and get your viewers voting with hearts and thumbs up (“Would you guys like me to talk about “A” [hearts] or “B” [thumbs]?”).

If you think of the algorithm as a program to give viewers engaging content you can learn to regulate your viewer numbers by switching into Fast Start mode to re-engage them whenever your viewership starts to decline.

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