Facebook Live for election officials

Instructions and guidelines for using live Facebook video broadcasting for community outreach

For years, election offices have recognized the value of Facebook as a community outreach tool. And now, Facebook Live allows you to broadcast live video, providing a new, interactive way to deliver information and engage the public.

A Facebook Live session is a bit like a webinar, but it doesn’t require any special software, it meets people where they are, and it can be more casual and personal. Even after your broadcast is over, you can continue reaching people by hosting the video on your election office’s Facebook Page, website, and YouTube channel.

These instructions and guidelines will help election officials get started with Facebook Live and get the most of out of it to engage their communities.

What you'll need

  • Mobile device with internet access
  • Computer with internet access
  • Facebook account for your election office
  • Facebook app installed on your mobile device

Optional, but helpful, resources to improve your video production include:

  • Simple tripod for mobile devices
  • External microphone to enhance sound recording
  • Whiteboard or second mobile device to help guide your featured speaker

Table of contents

  1. Setting up a Facebook Page
  2. Choosing a topic
  3. Considering optional equipment
  4. Planning your session: best practices
  5. Scheduling your session
  6. Promoting your session
  7. Practicing with a test session

Setting up a Facebook Page

To use Facebook Live, you need to have a Facebook account for your election office.

If you already have a personal Facebook account, you can use it, but it’s much better to create a Facebook Page for your office. That way, the public can connect with your office without being able to access your personal information. Plus, a Facebook Page is a useful asset for an election office, so it makes sense to create one now and begin building an audience.

You can do this days, weeks, or months before your first Facebook Live session.

If your office already has a Page, you can skip to choosing a topic for your Facebook Live session.

If you don’t have an office Facebook Page, let’s get started now.

Creating a Page

Since this is an account for an office instead of a person, you’ll be creating a Facebook Page rather than a regular Facebook account.

But, you do need to have a Facebook account in order to create a Page. This account should belong to the person who will be the administrator of your office’s Page. If you’re all set with a good administrator account, proceed to the next paragraph of instructions.

If you don’t have any existing Facebook account and need to create one, go to Facebook, enter your information, and scroll down to click the green Create Account button.

Start creating a Page for your office by going to Facebook’s “Create a Page” site. To select the type of page you want to make, go to the center of the page and click on Company, Organization and Institution.

Once you do, the site prompts you to choose a category of organization. Scroll down to select the most relevant one, Government Organization. Then, in the field for “Company Name” below, enter the name you’d like to use for your office on Facebook. Then, directly below, click the blue Get Started button.

A user has selected Government Organization in the dropdown box and has typed County Board of Election as the organization name

Select Government Organization and type your office’s name

Facebook will then create your new Page for you. You’re on your way! But your new Page is basically blank, so you should do some work to customize your Page and prepare it for your audience.

Facebook Page with no content

Your new Page starts off blank

While you customize your Page, if you’re looking for some style inspiration, take a look at some of these nice Facebook Pages created by election offices. If you like what they’re doing, don’t just copy it but instead put your own local spin on the approach you see them taking.

Adding a cover photo

The cover photo is the large, landscape image at the top of your Facebook Page. The cover photo helps to identify the Page.

To add a local touch, we’re going to use a cover photo of our city skyline, which will be a familiar site to our audience. You might also use a photo of your community, your staff, or your election office building.

In the bottom right of the cover photo area, click Add a Cover, select Upload a Photo, and select the photo that you’d like to use. Chances are good that you’ll need to reposition the photo so that it displays properly, so click on the photo and drag your mouse in order to reposition it the way you want. Once it looks right, click Save.

Adding a profile picture

Now it’s time to add a profile picture. Again, this helps show the connection between your Page and your office. The profile picture is the first thing that many people will see when they find your account, so it’s important to choose a good image.

Like many election offices, we’re going to use a county seal image for our profile picture.

Scroll up to the profile picture area, click Add a Picture, and select Upload a Photo. Then, select the image you’d like to use. Once it uploads, you’ll be able to reposition it or crop it however you like. You can even add a filter if you want. Once it looks right, click Save.

Want some details on the dimensions and format of Facebook cover photos and profile pictures? Check out Facebook’s helpful guide to these image dimensions.

Creating a username for your Page

Having a username gives your Facebook Page a helpful shortcut, making it easier for people to find your Page and connect to it.

To create a username, scroll to the top left, under your profile picture and Page title, and click Create Page @Username. A new window will prompt you to enter a username for your Page.

We just want something brief and descriptive, so we’re going to use “@CountyBOE” as our username.

Type the username you want, keeping in mind that camelcase (e.g., CamelCase) helps words visually stand out. Once you’re happy with your name, click Create Username. You’ll get a confirmation message including handy new links with your username. Ours is https://www.facebook.com/CountyBOE.

Adding a short description

Now, create a short description to introduce your office to the public. This will help visitors know that they’ve come to the right place.

Going to the left side of the page, click the About link. Under the MORE INFO section, go to About and click the word Edit when it appears to the right.

A window will open, allowing you to type your short description. Do so, keeping in mind that there’s a limit of 255 characters, and when you’re done, click Save.

When you’re done, you can go left and click on your Page title to return to the home area of your Facebook Page.

Facebook Page with cover photo, profile photo, username, and description added

Now your Page is looking nice

With your cover photo, profile picture, username, and short description, your new Facebook Page should be looking pretty nice. Here are a few additional quick things you can do to get your Page established and ready to go.

Customizing settings

You might want to establish some specific settings. If so, you can go the top right, click on Settings, and spend some time changing settings so that your page works the way you want it to.

Adding an about section

If you want to add more information about your election office to your Page, you can add more content to the About section. Go to the left side of the Page and click About. Then, you can add contact information and other details about your election office. Keep in mind, of course, that information you enter will be viewable to the public.

Creating your first post

You can create a post to welcome visitors to your Page and begin the conversation with your audience. Explain your plans for your new Facebook Page so that visitors know what to expect. If you can, include a nice photo of your chief election official, your staff, or your office.

Going to the middle of the page, where Facebook prompts you to “Write something,” write your welcome message. To add a photo, go to the bottom left of the composition window, select Photo/Video and select the photo you want to add.

When your message is ready, go to the bottom right and click the blue Publish button.

Welcome post with photo of a large staff

Welcome visitors to your new Page

At this point your election office Facebook Page is ready for action. For now, you can set it aside as you put more attention to planning your first Facebook Live session.

Like with many communication tasks, planning will help you use Facebook Live most effectively. So, long before you press that little camera icon to begin your first broadcast, do some thinking about things like your video’s topic, the equipment and resources you need, and various logistics. Let’s look at some guidelines and best practices.

Choosing a topic

So, what do you want your Facebook Live session to be about? The possibilities are endless, but here are some topics to consider.

People

  • Interviewing the chief election official
  • Introducing your election staff
  • Responding to voters’ frequently asked questions
  • Responding to poll workers’ frequently asked questions
  • Promoting working as a poll worker by interviewing past poll workers

Places

  • Giving a tour of your election office
  • Visiting a polling place or vote center, especially at the opening and closing of polls
  • Covering an event like a voter registration drive

Procedures

  • Giving an overview of the voting process
  • Providing a behind-the-scenes look at what’s involved in an election
  • Showing what happens to a ballot
  • Introducing voting equipment

Whichever topic you choose, make sure to prepare some notes and materials to help make your session a success. For instance, if you’re responding to questions, make sure you have a list of common voter FAQs ready just in case people don’t speak up.

Considering optional equipment

Using Facebook Live doesn’t require much in terms of equipment. All you really need is a mobile device — a smartphone or tablet. But, it’s worth thinking about some simple resources that could greatly enhance the quality of your session.

The links provided here are for illustrational purposes only; they are not intended as endorsements.

Tripod or mount

You probably don’t want to hold a mobile device in your hand for your entire Facebook Live session, so consider purchasing a simple tripod to give your hands a rest and make your video stable.

External microphone

Your mobile device’s built-in microphone works fine if you’re speaking right into it, but if there’s some distance between you and your device, you might want to use an external microphone to make sure your audio sounds good.

Have any favorite equipment that you think we should include here? Let us know at hello@electiontools.org. We’d love to share your recommendations.

Planning your session: best practices

As you continue to plan your Facebook Live session, keep in mind these best practices, which speak to common logistical challenges.

How can we prepare the device we’ll be using?

  • Make sure your device is fully charged. Have a charger handy, or simply have your device plugged in during your session.
  • If you’re using a smartphone, make sure to silence your phone so that you don’t get distracted by notifications during your broadcast.

How should we prepare the location?

  • Choose an area that looks attractive and professional, and do some set dressing to prepare your shot.
  • Your video will look much better if it’s well lit. Make sure lighting is sufficient and flattering.
  • If you’re holding your Live session in your election office, make sure to avoid filming items and areas that might not be attractive or appropriate for the public to see — even though they’re normal parts of an election workplace. Do you want that photo of your family on your desk to be visible? What about that cartoon taped to the cabinet? What about that damaged voting equipment in the corner of the room?
  • If your session will be at an outside location or event, think carefully about the location and what will be visible to viewers. Be especially cautious about filming any items or places that might be perceived as political or partisan.

How can we support the featured speaker?

  • Don’t go it alone! A good Facebook Live broadcast will be a team effort. In addition to whoever’s going to be on camera, plan to have somebody to handle the equipment and another person to guide the speaker and handle logistics.
  • Make sure to use a script, prompt, or guide. A great low-tech solution is to have, off camera, a whiteboard or chalkboard with notes to prompt the speaker. Of course, you can also use a second mobile device or a laptop for the same purpose. Either way, you’ll help the speaker stay organized and not get flustered.

What format should our Facebook Live session take?

  • In terms of length, aim for a broadcast of at least 5 minutes but probably no more than 20. With short sessions, there’s not much opportunity for people to stumble upon your session and join while you’re still live. With long session, audience members may get restless or lose interest.
  • It’s a good idea to try to schedule a recurring session. With recurring broadcasts, your audience will get accustomed to your outreach efforts, expanding viewership. For instance, you could hold a monthly broadcast to give updates from your office and cover civic events occurring in your community.

Scheduling your session

Facebook Live has a reputation for being spontaneous because people often use it to show what they’re doing or to document unfolding events. But for an election office, there’s no need to be spontaneous.

And that’s a good thing, actually: by carefully scheduling and promoting your broadcast, you can make sure it reaches the largest possible audience.

Using Insights to find the best time to broadcast

To make an informed decision about the best time to engage your audience, use Facebook Insights.

If you’ve just created your Facebook Page, you won’t have Insights yet. You only develop Insights after your Page has been around long enough to have posts and to generate likes, follows, and views. If you haven’t had a chance to do that, the best you can do is select a time that works best for you, understanding that your video will probably have more impact after your Live session rather than during it.

If your Facebook Page is brand new, you can skip to promoting your session.

To get started finding the best time to go Live, go to your Facebook Page and, going to your Page menu, click on Insights. Then, going to the left menu, click Posts.

A user clicks insights, then posts

Go to Insights, then Posts

Insights then displays data about when your Fans — that is, the people who like and follow your Page — are active on Facebook. Take a close look at the time graph, in particular, and see what it tells you about your audience.

You can see that our audience is pretty consistently active between 10:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m.

A graph shows views increase at 10 a.m. and begin to decrease after 8 p.m.

Audience activity seems to be best between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m.

So, what’s the best time to go Live?

Let’s use our data as an example. Looking at the graph, you can see that our audience activity peaks at noon, but then there’s an immediate dip in activity. This tells us that the period between 10:00 a.m. and noon is probably the best time to schedule our Facebook Live session. If that time doesn’t work for us, however, the period between 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. or so would work well, too.

Graph showing post views peak between 10 a.m. and noon

Between 10 a.m. and noon seems an especially good time

So, which day of the week is best?

You’ll notice that, above the time graph, there’s a display showing the number of active users for each day of the week. In our case, the overall numbers are really similar, but that’s a little deceptive; even though the numbers are close to each other, there are definitely better days than others for a Facebook Live session.

To go beyond the numbers, scroll over the days of the week and watch how the time graph below changes. The dark blue line shows the activity for that day, while the lighter blue background shows the average.

You can see that Wednesday is lower than average for our audience.

Graph shows a line is lower than a shaded reference behind it

Audience activity on Wednesdays

Tuesday and Friday are both better-than-average days, however.

Graph shows a line is higher than a shaded reference behind it

Audience activity on Tuesdays

Graph shows a line is higher than a shaded reference behind it

Audience activity on Fridays

Saturday is also a quite active day for our audience.

Graph shows a line is higher than a shaded reference behind it

Audience activity on Saturdays

This means that, even though our election office is closed on Saturday, having a Facebook Live broadcast from a community event on a Saturday would be a good idea.

Conclusions

Looking at Insights, we’ve discovered that Tuesday and Friday from 10:00 a.m. to noon would be great times to schedule a Facebook Live session, while we should avoid Wednesday, in particular.

We’ve also seen that if we had an opportunity to hold a session on Saturday, it would likely find a better-than-average audience.

What about you? What have your Insights shown you about the best day and time to schedule your Facebook Live session?

Promoting your session

After you’ve scheduled your session, take some time to spread the word about your broadcast to generate interest a week or two in advance. Let’s look at 3 easy ways to promote your broadcast: on Facebook, Twitter, and your election website.

Facebook post

It makes sense to generate interest in your Facebook Live session using your Facebook Page. Create an engaging, attractive post that will give your audience a clear sense of what to expect from your scheduled broadcast, including:

  • What topic will be covered
  • Who will be featured
  • When the session will be held (day of the week, date, and time)

In addition, try to include a photo, especially a photo of the featured speaker(s). And encourage readers to share your post with others.

Here’s a sample Facebook post promoting a broadcast in which our Director of Elections will talk about what’s involved in serving as a poll worker.

Promo post invites readers to attend upcoming Facebook Live session and includes photo of JoAnn Williams

Promote your upcoming Live session with a simple post

Twitter post

Twitter is another good place to promote your Facebook Live session, as you may have different audiences on Facebook and Twitter. Using both platforms means that you’ll reach both communities.

Don’t have a Twitter account for your election office? Get started by checking out our Twitter Guide for Election Officials!

In your tweet, include the same what, who, and when as in your Facebook post, but in addition, be sure to include a link to your Facebook page. Again, include a photo.

To save space in your tweet, use a link shortener like Google’s URL shortener, which allowed us to take www.facebook.com/CountyBOE (26 characters) and shorten it to goo.gl/fjW5kN (13 characters).

Here’s our sample tweet to promote our session. Notice how, in order to save room, we’ve carefully cut down the message, keeping just the most essential pieces of information.

Promo tweet invites readers to an upcoming Facebook Live session and includes photo of JoAnn Williams

Use Twitter to spread the word, too

Notice on your election website

Since you already provide important information on your website, it’s also a good spot to promote your broadcast. Using your website for promotion means you’ll be able to reach people who don’t follow you on Facebook or Twitter.

In your website notice, you’ll want to address the what, who, and when of your Facebook Live session and include a link to your Facebook page. Once again, include a relevant photo.

For our sample website notice, we just copied-and-pasted the text from our Facebook post, and then we added a few additional features, including links to relevant pages of our website and a comment explaining that the video will be archived in case people miss the live broadcast.

Website notice invites readers to an upcoming Facebook Live session and include photo of JoAnn Williams

Promote your upcoming broadcast on your website

Once you’ve worked to promote your session, you can experiment with a test session that’ll allow you to practice before the big day.

Practicing with a test session

Before you go live with an audience, you can practice with a test that nobody will be able to see except you. It’s an easy way to get familiar with the mechanics of Facebook Live with no risk of embarrassment.

Install or update the app

To use Facebook Live, you need to have the Facebook app installed on your mobile device. If you have it installed, you may want to update your app to ensure that you’re using the most up-to-date version.

Facebook is so popular that many devices come with the app preinstalled. But, if you need to install it, here’s how:

  • To install the Facebook app on an iPhone or iPad, open the App Store, and search for Facebook. Once you find it, tap Get, and then tap Install. The app will download. Then, open the app and sign in.
  • To install the Facebook app on an Android device, open the Play Store, and search for Facebook. Once you find it, tap Install, and then tap Accept. The app will download. Then, open the app and sign in.

If you already have the Facebook app but want to check for updates, here’s how:

  • To update the Facebook app on an iPhone or iPad, open the App Store, and search for Facebook. Once you find it, if your app is up to date, the App Store will display “Uninstall” as the only option. If you need to update it, it will also display “Update.” If it does, tap Update, and your update will download.
  • To update the Facebook app on an Android device, open the Play Store, and search for Facebook. Once you find it, if your app is up to date, the Play Store will display “Uninstall” and “Open” as the only options. If you need to update it, it will display “Uninstall” and “Update.” If it does, tap Update, and your update will download.

Once your app is installed and up to date, you’re ready to experiment with Facebook Live.

Going live (privately)

Facebook Pages are built specifically for community outreach, so there’s no way to go live privately with your election office Page. But, it’s easy for you to hold a practice session with the administrator account that you used to create your Page.

Earlier we emphasized the importance of using an election office Page rather than a personal account, but since this is just practice and you can ensure nobody will see your session, experimenting with Facebook Live on a personal account carries no risk.

If you’re ready to practice, grab your mobile device and open the Facebook app. Going to the What’s on your mind prompt at the top of your news feed, tap Live.

A user taps Live to start the practice live session

Tap Live to start your practice session

If you haven’t used Facebook Live before, you may need to give Facebook permission to record video and audio. If prompted, tap Allow.

Your camera will turn on, and you’ll probably see an image of yourself. You’re now ready to choose the settings for your practice Live session.

First, you may need to change your camera direction from front (“selfie mode”) to back. Going to the top right, tap the reverse arrows icon to switch the camera.

Next, change the privacy setting so that nobody will see your practice video. Just below your name, tap the Public button, and change the settings to Only me. Then, go to the top right and tap Done.

Finally, type a description for your practice session. When your description is ready, go to the bottom right and tap Go Live.

A user changes camera direction, privacy settings, and types a description

Change your camera direction, privacy settings, and describe your video

And now you’re live! You can now practice your script, check your lighting, and see how things look. When you’re ready to end your practice session, go to the bottom right of the display and tap Finish.

A user taps Finish to end the broadcast

Tap Finish to end your practice session

After you’ve finished recording, Facebook will ask if you want to delete the video or post it to your Facebook timeline. Since you’re just practicing, you’ll probably want to delete it, so go to the bottom left and tap the Delete button. Facebook will ask you to confirm your selection, so again tap Delete and your video will be deleted.

A user taps delete when done with the practice session

Tap delete when you’re done practicing

Congratulations! You’ve just practiced your first Facebook Live session! You can repeat this process, practicing as much as you like until you’re ready to go live before an audience.

Table of contents

  1. Going live
  2. Adding captions to your video
  3. Measuring your impact
  4. Embedding your video on your election website
  5. Uploading your video to YouTube

Going live

When you’re ready to have your first Facebook Live broadcast with an audience, start by opening the Facebook app on your mobile device and finding your Page.

Unlike you did when you held a practice session with your personal Facebook account, when you’re ready to hold a real session with an audience, you should go live from your election office Facebook Page.

To get to the Page from your personal Facebook account, go to the top right and tap the three-line menu icon. In the menu, scroll down to the Pages section, and your election office Page should appear there. Tap it, and you’ll be taken to your Page.

A user taps menu, then selects their election office Facebook Page

Tap menu, then select your election office Page

To start a Live session, scroll down to where you see the Write something prompt, and click there as you would when composing a regular post. Facebook prompts you to write a message or select another kind of activity. Instead of typing a message, scroll down and tap Live Video (on Apple devices) or Go Live (on Android devices).

A user starts composing a post and then selects Go Live

Start a post, then select Go Live

If you haven’t used Facebook Live before, you may need to give Facebook permission to record video and audio. If prompted, tap Allow.

Your camera will turn on, and you’ll probably see an image of yourself. You may need to change your camera direction from front (“selfie mode”) to back. Going to the top right, tap the reverse arrows icon to switch the camera.

A user taps the arrows icon to reverse the camera

Change your camera direction

Now, you’re prompted to type a description of your live video.

A user types to begin describing the video

Describe your video

Write a simple but thorough description in the present tense. For example, here’s our sample description for our session on serving as a poll worker: “Director of Elections JoAnn Williams talks about the important work of poll workers and answers your questions live.”

When your description is ready, go to the bottom right and tap Go Live.

And now you’re live! Here are some things to keep in mind during your live broadcast to help make it a success.

Monitoring and acknowledging your audience

While you’re broadcasting, people will join your session. As they do, you can monitor who’s watching and acknowledge users as they join the broadcast. Let’s look at how to keep track of who’s viewing your session.

Facebook Live uses display frames to provide information to you while you’re broadcasting. By default, you’ll start off in the notifications frame. In this frame, Facebook will give you notifications about the status of your video, and you’ll also see when users react to your video and leave comments.

Facebook Live's notifications frame, with text notifications appearing over the camera image

Facebook gives you updates in the notifications frame

If you’d like to temporarily hide the notifications, you can swipe right to get to a blank frame. You’ll see a comment encouraging you to “Swipe to reveal comments and reactions.”

To get back to your notification frame, swipe left once. If you swipe left once more, you’ll see the live viewers frame. As people join your session, you’ll see them appear here.

Facebook Live's live viewers frame shows you who's viewing your broadcast

The Live Viewers frame shows you who’s watching

As you see new viewers join, be sure to welcome them by name.

It’s also a good idea to give frequent recaps of your topic for the benefit of new viewers:

“Hi, Melissa, thanks for joining our Facebook Live session. We’ve just been talking about some of the central responsibilities of serving as a poll worker. Please feel free to add comments and questions as we go along.”

To go back to the notification or blank frames, just swipe right.

Now that you know how to monitor your viewers, you can also respond to their comments and, if necessary, block troublesome users.

Responding to comments

As comments come in, respond to them in a prompt, friendly way. It’s tough for a featured speaker to talk and manage the questions on their own, so having a team to support the speaker can really help.

If you want to send questions to the speaker verbally, the staff member handling the mobile device can jump in and say:

“Hey, JoAnn, we’ve just got a question in from Kelly. Kelly is wondering if high school students can serve as poll workers.”

If you want to send questions to the speaker nonverbally, a staff member can write a note on a white board, mobile device, or computer for the speaker to read:

“Kelly asks: Can high school student serve as poll workers?”

The speaker should then respond to the question verbally, on camera, making sure to reference the person asking the question by their first name and thanking them for the question. This will not only grab their attention, but it’ll also give your interactions a friendly, personal tone:

“Hi, Kelly, thanks for this great question. High school students can absolutely serve as poll workers, and we love to have them contribute their energy and skills with technology. You just have to be at least 16 and a resident of the county. You can check out all the details at www.countyelections.org/pollworkers.”

As the speaker answers a user’s question, you can delete it simply by tapping the comment and, in the next window, tapping Delete Comment.

A user taps the comment and selects delete comment

Once you’ve addressed a comment, delete it

Blocking disorderly users

You may need to block users who are rude, disorderly, or in some other way don’t follow your social media comments policy.

Don’t have a comments policy? If you need to create one, you can get some inspiration from this nice example of a Facebook comments policy created by Fairfax County, Virginia.

If you need to block someone, here’s how. Tap the comment and, in the next window, tap Block [the user’s name].

A user taps a viewer and clicks Block and the name

If you need to, you can block unruly viewers

Now the user will be unable to participate in your video or leave any additional comments.

Don’t be in too much of a hurry to block people. Today many members of the voting public are fearful or concerned about the election system, and being able to address their concerns in a direct and affirmative way helps to build transparency and trust.

Sometimes, it’s better to address critical or conspiratorial comments head-on rather than just blocking people. Need a little help? Here are a few examples of how to approach challenging questions and comments.

Critical comment: “The County Board of Elections must not do a very good job training its poll workers. The last time I voted, I heard a poll worker give wrong information to somebody who wanted to vote.”
Affirmative response: “Thanks for your comment, Edward. The County Board of Elections employs about 1,200 poll workers each Election Day. We pride ourselves on training them effectively, but keeping a large, temporary workforce on message is a challenge for every election office. All of poll workers wear name badges, so in the future, you can take note of a poll worker’s name and polling place location and call our office to register a concern. In addition, you can help make a difference by serving as a poll worker yourself. We’d love to have you.”

Critical comment: “I don’t trust the County Board of Elections anymore. I heard that there was a whole bunch of ballots in the last election that never got counted.”
Affirmative response: “Thanks for your comment, Edward. I know that you’re not alone in wanting to make sure that every ballot that’s cast in our county is counted fairly. We have truly rigorous systems in place to make sure that’s exactly what happens, and our office gets high marks from the Secretary of State. If you have any more specific concerns or would like to tour our ballot-processing facilities to see how the system works, please feel free to call my office at 555-222-6666 and make an appointment with me or my Deputy Director.”

Critical comment: “I updated my mailing address with your office 2 weeks ago but still haven’t gotten any confirmation postcard with my precinct information. If I don’t get it by Election Day, you can be sure I’ll be calling your office!”
Affirmative response: “Thanks for your comment, Edward. Our website encourages voters to update their registration information at least 6 weeks prior to Election Day to ensure their changes are processed in time to vote. If you need to find your polling place, just go to www.countyelections.org, and, going to the left menu, click “Where do I vote?” Then, you can search for your polling place using your new address. Our website also includes information about what documents you’ll need to bring if you’re voting for the first time in that precinct.”

Ending your broadcast and posting your video to Facebook

Once you’re nearing the end of your Live session, announce that you’re going to wrap up, and encourage your viewers to take action once your video is over. You might ask them to “like” your Facebook Page, visit your election website, attend a community event, or something similar. Here’s our ask for the poll worker session:

“Thanks so much for viewing this video, and for more information about being a poll worker, please visit www.countyelections.org/pollworkers. If you have friends or family who might be interested in being poll workers, please tag them in the comments section so they can view this video once it’s posted on our Facebook Page.”

Once you’re ready to end your session, go to the bottom right of the display and tap Finish.

A user taps Finish to end the broadcast

Tap Finish to end your broadcast

After you’re finished recording, Facebook will ask you if you want to delete the video or post it to your Facebook timeline. To increase the impact of the video, you’ll want to post it, so go to the bottom right and tap the Post button. Facebook will process your video and post it to your Page.

Facebook Live video now appears as a post on a Facebook Page, with the heading County Board of Elections was live

After your broadcast is over, your video can live on as a Post

Now that your video is posted, take a few minutes to add captions to your video to make it more accessible.

Adding captions to your video

It’s well worth taking the time to add captions to your video now that it’s posted to your Facebook Page.

Captions make your video accessible to people who are hard of hearing, of course, but they also make your video more usable for everybody: Facebook videos are muted until you click on them, so captions can help people get the message of your video even when it’s muted. Captions are also helpful for people who speak English as a second language.

Generating captions

To add captions, you’ll need to use Facebook on your desktop or laptop computer, so put your mobile device aside and go to your Facebook Page on a computer.

Going to the top right of your video’s post, click the arrow to view the drop-down box. Then, click Edit Post.

A user clicks the arrow in the top right and then clicks edit post captions

Starting the process of adding captions

Going to the top left of the Edit Video window, click Captions. Then, going below that, click Generate. Facebook will “listen” to your video and generate automatic captions based on the speech in the audio track. Depending on the length of your video, this can take several minutes.

Editing captions

The captions aren’t perfect, but they’re a good start, and it’s easy to edit them. For instance, in our sample video, Facebook misheard the name “JoAnn Williams” as “Julie Ann Williams,” so we need to correct that.

By typing in the captions scroll on the right side of the pop-up window, you can easily make corrections and changes, fixing words that were misidentified, capitalizing proper nouns, and adding punctuation to make the captions easier to read.

A user has made edits to correct autocaptioning transcription errors

Edit the automatic captions to fix errors and make the captions more readable

As you edit the captions in the captions scroll on the right, you’ll see them reflected in your video preview on the left.

The caption editing program shows the edited captions as they'll appear in the video

You can see a preview of your captions as you edit them

If you need to change when the captions appear in the video, you can edit the timing markers above the caption text. Changing the queueing times, you can when the captions appear and for how long. You can also delete entire chunks of text by clicking the trash can icon.

You can click timing marks to edit them or a trash can icon to delete captions

You can edit timing markers or delete chunks of caption text

Once you’re happy with your captions, go to the bottom right and click Save To Video. Then, when you’re back at the Edit Video window, go to the bottom right and click Save. Now, your video will appear on your Facebook Page with captions to benefit everyone.

If you want to promote your post, refer to the discussion of boosting posts in the section below.

Measuring your impact

After your video has had some time to reach its audience — a few days, maybe — you can look at your analytics and measure the impact that it’s had.

Assessing your post impact

The simplest way to measure your impact is to simply look directly at your video’s post and take note of the numbers of people reached, views, reactions, comments, and shares.

Below the post, Facebook displays number of people reached, number of views, reactions, comments, and shares

You can find basic details about impact right below your post

Looking at our post above, we see that so far it’s had 979 people reached and 312 views. This means 979 people have seen the post without watching the video, while 312 people have both seen the post and watched the video. It’s also gotten 26 “likes” or other reactions. That’s pretty good!

On the other hand, there are 0 comments and 0 shares. This means that, if we want to get more people to comment on and share our Facebook Live videos in the future, we should directly ask the audience to do those things either during the session or in the post text.

Assessing your Page insights

In addition to looking at your post’s impact, you might want to look at the analytics for your entire Page. You can find these in Facebook’s Insights. Go to your Facebook page and, in the top menu, click Insights.

There are many different metrics you can explore, but there are 2 especially helpful displays right there on your Insights page.

The top display is your Page Summary. Going to the top left, you can change the period for which you want to see insights. The details in your Page Summary give you a sense of how your Page is performing in general, taking into account views, likes, and other forms of engagement.

Facebook Insights page has 6 graphs showing actions on page, page views, likes, reach, post engagements, and video impact

The Insights Page Summary

Directly below your Page Summary is data on your 5 most recent posts. This data allows you to compare the impact of your posts side by side, giving you hints about what kind of content your audience enjoys the most. You can compare your recent posts in terms of reach and engagement.

Facebook insights displays reach statistics for the 5 most recent posts

Insights for our 5 most recent posts

In our example above, we see that although our Facebook Live posts have been pretty popular, they haven’t been as popular as a simple message about polling places that we posted just before the election. We might conclude that even though the videos are successful, we shouldn’t abandon basic, informational posts.

Boosting posts (optional)

Do you want to make a bigger impact? Boosting posts is a form of paid advertising, and depending on your election office’s marketing budget, you might consider paying to boost your Facebook Live post, therefore bringing it to more people.

Boosting posts is easy, inexpensive, and can help you reach more people in your community.

Get started by, either in your timeline or in your Insights page, clicking the blue Boost Post button. Once you do, you’ll be asked to choose your audience, your budget, and your duration.

On boosted posts page, a user has selected an audience of people 18-65 in Illinois, a budget of twenty dollars, and a duration of 14 days

To boost a post, select your audience, budget, and duration

To boost our Facebook Live video, we’re choosing an audience of people 18-65 who are interested in community issues and live within 25 miles of our county seat, we’re using a budget of $20.00, and we’re running the ad for 14 days.

After you choose your audience, budget, and duration, go to the bottom right and click Boost. You’ll be asked to provide payment information, and your boosted post will soon reach even more people.

After your duration period ends, you can assess your impact and make a judgment about the effectiveness of your boosted posts.

Remember, you should evaluate the effectiveness of boosted Facebook Live video posts by looking at the number of views — not the number of people reached — since it’s a given that boosting a post will reach more people by design.

Embedding your video on your election website

In addition to hosting your video on your Facebook Page, you can place it in additional locations to reach more people. We’re going to cover 2 of these, showing you how to embed the video on your election website and upload it to YouTube.

Want to feature your Facebook Live video on your website? It’s easy.

Copying the embed code from Facebook

Going to the top right of your video’s post, click the arrow to view the drop-down box. Then, click Embed. If you don’t see Embed, you may need to click See more options, and then you should see it.

Working with a post, a user has clicked the arrow dropdown menu and has selected Embed

Click the arrow menu and select Embed

Facebook then provides you with an embed code that you can copy and paste into your website’s backend. Before you do, though, consider if you want to change any of the embed settings.

For example, by selecting or unselecting Include full post, you can decide whether to embed the full post or just the video. In addition, you can click Advanced Settings and consider additional settings, although, since these require you to edit html code, they’re best left for html experts.

Once you’re happy with the settings, copy the html code for your video.

Pasting the embed code in your website backend

Then, open the backend for your election website, going to the specific page where you’d like to post your Facebook Live video. Access the html source for your page, and paste the embed code where you want it to appear in the existing page code.

A user has pasted the embed code alongside existing html code

Paste the embed code into your website’s backend

Then, publish the page and check out how the video looks on your website.

Video appears embedded on a web page with text about serving as a poll worker

Now your Facebook Live video is embedded on your site

If you don’t like how it looks, you can return to Facebook’s embed page to change those embed settings. Then, copy and paste the code again and republish the page to see the changes.

Now, visitors to your website will be able to view your video.

Uploading your video to YouTube

If your election office has a YouTube account, you can add your Facebook Live video to benefit your YouTube community. To do that, you need to download the video file from Facebook and then upload it to YouTube.

Downloading the video file

Start by going to the Facebook post for the video that you want to upload to YouTube. Going to the top right, click the arrow to view the drop-down box. Then, click Edit Post.

A user clicks the arrow dropdown menu and selects Edit

Click the arrow menu and select Edit Post

Going to the center right of the Edit Video page, click the gear icon, and then click Download HD.

A user has clicked the gear icon and selects Download HD

Click the gear icon and select Download HD

Your video will  download as an mp4 file. Depending on the length of the video and your internet speed, this may take several minutes.

Uploading the video file

Once your file is downloaded, you’re ready to upload it to YouTube. Go to YouTube and, going to the top right, click the upload icon. Then, in the middle of your screen, click the TV screen-shaped arrow icon.

A user selects the upload arrow icon and then clicks the TV screen icon

On YouTube, click the upload arrow and then the TV screen icon

YouTube will ask you to select your file. Once you’ve selected it, click Open, and your file will upload.

When your file is uploaded, you should add some helpful information to your video before you publish it:

  1. Add a clear, compelling title
  2. Include an informative description
  3. Choose some relevant tags
  4. Choose the best video thumbnail to represent your video
  5. Consider the advanced settings
A user has entered a title, description, has added tags, selected a thumbnail image, and prepares to click publish

Enter information about your video to make it effective

Once you’ve established your settings, go to the top right and click the Publish button. You’ll get a confirmation message and your video’s URL. If you click it, you’ll be able to view your video on YouTube.

The Facebook Live video as it appears on YouTube

Facebook Live video on YouTube

Adding captions to your YouTube video

As you did with the video on Facebook, you’ll want to add captions to your video on YouTube. Like with Facebook, YouTube generates captions for you, and while they’re imperfect, it’s easy to edit them.

YouTube makes captions automatically, but it takes a bit of time after you’ve uploaded your video before they’re available. Depending on the length of your video, you might need to wait 10 minutes or more before your captions are ready to edit.

To get started editing the captions, click the TV screen-shaped CC icon below your video. You’ll end up on YouTube’s page for managing subtitles and closed captions. If your automatic captions are ready, they’ll be listed by language (e.g., “English (Automatic)”) to the right of the video, under the word Published.

YouTube displays English (Automatic) to show the automatic captions are ready

YouTube will show you when your automatic captions are ready

If you don’t see your captions yet, just wait. If you do, go ahead and click English (Automatic). Then, to begin editing the automatic captions, go to the top right and click Edit.

Now, you can edit your automatic captions in the same way that you did on Facebook, typing into the caption scroll on the left to make changes to the transcript or the timing markers. Again, you can fix words that were misidentified, capitalize proper nouns, and add punctuation to make the captions easier to read.

Edit the automatic captions to correct errors and increase readability

And like with Facebook, you’ll see your edits reflected in the video preview to the right of the caption scroll.

When you’re happy with your captions, go to the top right of the page and click Publish edits. Now your edited captions will be available with your YouTube video.

Captions displayed over the YouTube video

YouTube video with edited captions

And that’s it! Your Facebook Live video is now available on YouTube, complete with captions to make it more accessible.


By this point, you’ve prepared for your Facebook Live session, held a practice session, gone live before an audience, posted your video in one or more spots, and assessed your impact. That’s the basic cycle for using Facebook Live. To return to any step, refer to the instructions above.