Lessons learned from the first season of Launchpad Live

Recently, I tried something new. I started a weekly Facebook Live show, called Launchpad Live, and I did it every Friday afternoon for 8 weeks.

Starting something new always brings challenges, and this was no different.

I want to share the lessons I learned through this process with you, so that next time you start something new in your content marketing, you can avoid some of these pitfalls (or at least know what to look out for!).

Why did I start Launchpad Live?

I had some important topics to cover around my Content Strategy Sessions, but it had been a while since I’d published anything on my own blog. You’d think it’d be easy for me, right? But no, I face the same challenges with producing content consistently as everyone else.

I signed up to the CMA 90 Day Challenge as a way to get things kick-started. The challenge is a great source of accountability to achieve your content marketing goals. But I’d done it before, and not made it to the end. I knew I had to take it to the next level this time if I wanted to succeed.

I was also keen to start producing regular video content. However, I didn’t want to spend lots of time recording and editing; I knew from experience that this could potentially take me an entire day each week, and I didn’t have a day to spare.

Live video was the answer. Not only was there no editing to worry about, but by publicly committing to a weekly Facebook Live show, it would add the extra wee bit of pressure I needed to stick at it consistently.

And if I was really clever, I could structure the show so that it was easily repurposed for YouTube and social media, as well as a blog. I’d become a content creation machine! *laughs maniacally*

But did it work out that way in reality? Let’s take a look.

Lessons learned from the first 8 episodes of Launchpad Live

Have one clear purpose

The goal was to be as efficient as possible with my content creation. Here was my plan…

Step 1

Research and outline my content topic in the form of a mindmap and/or bullet points.

Step 2

Deliver it as a Facebook Live, allowing me to flesh out the ideas and take comments or questions from the live audience.

Step 3

Download the video, do some light editing and upload to YouTube. I’d structure the live broadcast so that any interaction with viewers was at the beginning and end, meaning the editing was minimal.

Step 4

Write it up as a blog post, incorporating the new ideas and input from viewers, and embedding the YouTube video.

Step 5

Chop up the video into short clips and create eye-catching graphics to promote the blog post on social media.

In other words, I tried to kill 4 birds – live video, edited video, blog and social media – with one stone.

And it didn’t work.

Instead of 4 amazing pieces of content that were tailored for each platform, repurposed from a single broadcast, I ended up with 4 pieces of mediocre content, none of which were quite the right format for their platform.

The lesson here is to have one clear purpose for your content and to choose the most appropriate format for that purpose. Be mindful of the context of the platform and deliver your content in the way that best suits that medium.

Yes, repurposing is important. But not at the sacrifice of quality. Do one at a time, and do it well.

 

Be realistic

In the last couple of months, the business has gone through a period of growth and development. We’ve doubled our client base in a short space of time, and we’re nearly at capacity for blog management with our current team.

In addition to managing this intake of clients, I’ve been working on service developments to ensure our procedures continue to reflect best practice. And I’m also working with a couple of other marketers on a joint venture project, called Gravity, to run a series of digital marketing networking events.

Creating content is amongst these projects as a top priority, but I soon realised that preparing and delivering 1 Facebook Live broadcast, 1 YouTube video, and 1 blog post of approx. 2000 words every week was simply too much.

I thought having an efficient content creation process would make it possible, but the sub-standard quality I was achieving only exacerbated the pressure and overwhelm I felt.

The thing to learn from my experience is that YOU define your own content schedule, and when it becomes too much, you have the ability to rein it back. Be realistic about what is achievable for you right now in your business.

Don’t benchmark your content production against others; everyone has different priorities and projects to juggle, whether it’s work stuff, family stuff or personal stuff.

It’s ok to do less – focus on quality over quantity.

Persevere through obstacles

Naively, I thought the tech would be easy. I had done Facebook Lives from my phone before without issue; no buffering, nice sharp picture, clear audio etc. But I wanted to step things up a gear and do the broadcasts from my desktop so that I could use software that would allow me to display branding, graphics and comments on the screen.

This involved ordering a new webcam and microphone. With a budget of around £200, I ordered a Logitech C920 HD Pro Webcam, which had come recommended, and a Blue Snowball iCE USB Microphone. It’s the baby brother of the Blue Yeti, a popular mic amongst podcasters and online entrepreneurs.

I also bought a couple of Neewer LED lights. I had relied on daylight in the past, positioning my phone so that I could face the window. But, on the desktop, the window would be behind me, so I had to balance it out and make sure my face was well lit.

For the software, I decided to try BeLive.tv, which is a browser-based broadcasting tool, with all the features I wanted for a small monthly subscription. It was ideal for my first foray into live streaming; it’s quick and easy to use, and I’d seen several friends use it with great results.

My first broadcast from the desktop went pretty well, all things considered. But there was one thing I wasn’t happy with – the picture quality. Despite using an HD camera and having proper lighting, it still looked slightly grainy on the replay.

Here’s a side-by-side of a broadcast from BeLive.tv versus one from my phone, to show you what I mean…

This wouldn’t be such a big deal, but I was trying to repurpose my broadcasts for YouTube. And whilst you might get away with a slightly fuzzy picture on Facebook Live, you certainly can’t get away with it on YouTube. It’s just not good enough.

I tried BeLive.tv a couple more times, in the hope that it was just my connection on the day that reduced the quality. But no. It was the same every time.  

Pretty frustrating, when I’d just invested in all this new equipment!

I had joined a Facebook Group called Confident Live Marketing Jump Start, run by my friend Ian Anderson Gray. I asked the group for advice and alternative software solutions. But when I told Ian that my laptop has an i7 processor, but only 4GB of RAM and is 6 years old, he explained that this was probably the root of the problem.

The more processing power and RAM your laptop has, the better streaming quality you can achieve. Better hardware would probably get me the quality I was looking for, and would also allow me to use beefier software that could stream and record in HD simultaneously.

I was disappointed, but not deterred. I decided to go back to using my phone for the time being until I’m ready to invest in a new laptop.

The lesson here is to persevere through the obstacles you encounter – because you will encounter them!

Whether it’s tech, time management or something else, don’t let it put you off-course. Stay committed, and stay consistent. You’ll find workarounds in the short-term and can figure out long-term solutions in the background.

 

It’s all in the planning and preparation

One of the biggest struggles I had was in preparation. I had allocated Friday mornings to research and outline my content topic before doing the Facebook broadcast in the afternoon.

Some weeks, when the topics were quick and easy, this worked perfectly fine. But others took longer, which led to me rushing at the last minute, and on several occasions, I had to push back my broadcast time (having already advertised it to my audience – not ideal!).

I also found preparedness to be a major factor in how I felt about the broadcast. If I was fully prepared, well in advance, then I felt confident about the content I was delivering, which came across on the live stream. If I was less prepared, then I didn’t feel as confident on camera, and I felt like it went terribly (even if it didn’t).

What I took away from this was to allow more time; things always take longer than you think. Break down the process into smaller chunks, and plan for the exception, not the rule, so that no matter what happens you’ve got all the time you need.

Be consistent

The challenges I experienced with technology and preparation meant that, despite my best efforts, my broadcasting time was inconsistent.

I had chosen Friday afternoons to fit in with my work and personal schedule and checked the Insights on my Facebook Page to see when most of my followers were online. Taking all factors into consideration, I settled on 4pm.

But, in reality, I did it anywhere between 3pm and 7pm. This made it difficult to promote effectively and meant that I didn’t gain much of an audience over the 8 weeks, because I wasn’t consistent.

I know from my experience with blogging that you can’t grow an audience if people don’t know when to expect your content. So pick a publishing or broadcasting time that is feasible for the long term, and make sure people know about it!

‘Perfection is a fairytale’

This mantra from Brian Fanzo, who I met at CMA Live 2018, is crucial when it comes to doing Facebook Lives (or creating content of any kind!).

I don’t know about you, but I’m my own worst critic; I have my own standard of what I think is “good enough”. There were a few of the broadcasts that I didn’t feel were up to par, and that really got me down.

But I’m slowly learning to be ok with imperfection. No one is a pro from day one. In order to get better at something, you have to begin where you are and do it over and over again.

Surprisingly, though, I’ve discovered that the imperfections are what make your content authentic, and are often the most entertaining bits for your audience!

There was one broadcast where I accidentally rotated the screen from horizontal to vertical, which got an “oh god, total fail!” from me and a hasty exit… My friend Laurens commented “This is one of the best sections!”, and my boyfriend Ben said it was hilarious.

Check out the full video here – skip to 13:20 for the funny bit!

Now, I’m not sure what that says about the rest of my content (!), but I’d certainly rather get a laugh from people than no reaction at all.

Another example is a Facebook Live that I did with Chris Marr a couple of years ago, to promote my speaking slot at CMA Live 2017. We’d commandeered an empty room at a business centre for the broadcast, not knowing that it belonged to one of the tenants… they walked in mid-stream and gave us a telling off!

Highly awkward for us, but hilarious for the people watching!

Watch the full video here – skip to 11:24 for the confrontation!

Imperfections make us human. The more human we are, the more people relate to us. And the more people relate to us, the more they trust us. So let’s be ok with it.

What am I going to do differently?

So, having learned all these lessons, what am I going to change about Launchpad Live going forward?

I’m committing to the live video format

Through the experience of this pilot season, I learned that live video and recorded video are two entirely different media, each requiring a different approach. So, after a bit of deliberation, I’ve decided to commit to the live video format, worry less about repurposing the content and focus on making it a great live show.

I’ll write the blog post first

Until now, I’ve been planning my topic, then doing the live broadcast, then repurposing into a video, blog etc.

Going forward, I’ll write the blog post first. This will give me a chance to fully think through my ideas, and refine the content so that it is succinct and engaging before I deliver it live.

It’ll also mean that the live show will build upon the blog content by discussing my thoughts on the topic in more depth, and answering any questions from viewers. It’ll become a piece of content in its own right, rather than simply a video version of the blog (with extra waffle!).

I’m reducing my output to 2 Facebook Lives and 2 blogs per month

To give me more time for both preparation and promotion, without compromising other business priorities, I’ve decided to reduce my output to 2 Facebook Lives and 2 blog posts per month. I can outline my topic, draft the blog and promote the live broadcast one week, then publish the blog and go live the following week.

This should mean that I feel more prepared, and grow an audience due to increased promotion.

I’m going back to broadcasting from the PC using BeLive.tv

Since I’m committing to the live show, and not repurposing to YouTube, I’m going to go back to using BeLive.tv on the PC for the broadcasts. Yes, it’s slightly lower quality than I’d like, but using the software gives a better experience for the live viewers, and that’s my main focus.

Ultimately, I will invest in new hardware and software. But I’ll experiment with using a hardwired internet connection to see if that helps in the meantime.

My broadcasting time will be Fridays at 5pm

I’ve gone back and forth on my broadcasting time, but have decided to continue with Friday afternoons, with a slight change to 5pm.

Being fortnightly, and with more preparation time, it should be easier to stay consistent.

I’m going to relax and be myself

More than anything, I want the show to be easy and enjoyable to watch. In order for that to happen, I need to worry less about perfection and simply be myself. So that’s what I’m going to do.

Over to you…

The lessons I’ve learned from embarking on my Facebook Live show are equally applicable to other forms of content creation.

Many of my clients experience the same obstacles when they begin their blogging journey. It all stems from stepping outside of your comfort zone, putting yourself out there and trying something new.

When you encounter these challenges, and that resistance bubbles up that tells you it’s too difficult and you should probably quit, that’s the sign that you’re on the right track. The best opportunities and experiences in life are on the other side of that fear.

If you relate to any of my lessons above, ask yourself these questions:

  • What do you like about what you’re doing?
  • What don’t you like about what you’re doing?
  • How could you do it differently?

Acknowledge the issues, adjust your approach if necessary, then keep going.

With that said…

Tune in for Launchpad Live!

Join me fortnightly on Fridays at 5pm for Launchpad Live, the show where we talk about how to get your content marketing strategy off the ground!

In each episode, I’ll share my thoughts on our latest topic, answer your questions and drop a quick, actionable marketing or productivity tip.

Hope to see you there!

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