For many charities and nonprofits, having a presence at a cause-focused rally or march is important. Whether you’re attending an event for refugees and human rights, women’s rights and reproductive health access, or LGBTQ rights; there are certainly no shortage of energetic gatherings to attend around the world to make your voice heard.

Aside from showing physical solidarity, these events also provide a great opportunity to take photos, video and conduct interviews to share on your social media channels to show your organisation’s supporters at home what the events are all about.

be the good

In 2017, social video is king, and is the most effective way to engage people on social media, with around 1200% more shares and likes than image or text-based content. People really like to feel like they are part of the action, and that they’re truly in the mix, even if they’re sitting at home on the sofa.

Broadcasting from Facebook Live is a great way to do this, which is why we joined Amnesty International at London’s Refugees Welcome rally this past September to help them conduct their very first live broadcast from a crowded rally. We prepared our technical setup and content in advance, but as we all know: some things in life must be learned on the fly.

These are our top five lessons learned from conducting a Facebook Live broadcast from a crowded rally.

Network issues will happen, bring a backup sim card

Tip number one: just because you bring along a portable WiFi connection doesn’t mean it will work. Just because you’re paying for unlimited data with your mobile provider doesn’t mean your 4G will work, either. Getting a clear enough signal to broadcast a live video in an area with thousands of people gathered can be very tricky. If you have the budget, we suggest getting a backup sim card loaded with data on an alternate network, as you never know which network will provide the best coverage in whatever crowded area you are in.

Stay close to your filming subjects

Purchasing a microphone may not be necessary, especially if it is something you will have to fiddle with, re-adjust and test in a busy and fast-moving environment. We found that the sound was clear enough using only an iPhone mic for people at home to hear, even with windy weather and loud chanting in the background. They key element of good sound is being very close to the subjects you are filming. Otherwise, the sound wouldn’t have been as clear, and the chaos in the background would have distracted from the interview itself. You can see an example of our camera operator’s framing below.

Be very adaptable

While it is true that Facebook Live garners more engagement the longer the broadcast is, it is also important to be adaptable in a somewhat chaotic environment with thousands of people around. You may have longer videos planned, but this may not pan out the way you expect it to due to network issues, location issues and the general ad-hoc nature of a rally. Though it goes against what you may have learned about creating longer Facebook Live broadcasts, in this kind of environment, shorter broadcasts are understandable. Also, if you are having major network issues and can’t connect to Facebook Live, record the video anyways and upload it afterwards.

Save your live video

If you have the space on your iPhone or smartphone, it’s a great idea to save the original videos of your broadcast to your phone gallery. The videos will be a higher quality than the video that you’ve streamed live. So, at the end of any live broadcast, be sure that the person filming is choosing the ‘save to camera roll’ function.

This way, you can use the higher quality video footage in other ways after the rally, whether that’s recycling it into shorter clips for instagram and twitter, or in a presentation.

Remember: you can never be too prepared

The detailed technical notes and prep we had done beforehand was crucial to keeping the day running smoothly – we referred to our Facebook Live ‘phone setup’ notes several times. We also learned that it is essential to be prepared with a full team of people each with their own role, so depending on your resources and the size of your social media audience, you’ll probably want a general coordinator (i.e. someone directing the day and making sure people know where to meet for interviews), a Facebook and Twitter moderator, a well-briefed presenter, and a well-briefed camera person.

We also would suggest bringing a few small poster boards with basic questions and directions to hold behind the camera person to help direct the interview without distracting it (i.e. “more questions” or “speak up!”).

Do you have any other questions for us about Facebook Live coordination or cause-focused social media for nonprofits? Get in touch!