We’re always on the lookout for examples of Catholic organizations leveraging digital media for the better of the Church. Most recently, the good work of FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) and their Facebook Live SEEK broadcasts came into view.

FOCUS is a campus ministry organization that aims to “win the hearts of college students, build them up in the faith and send them out into the world.” They teach what evangelization really looks like in everyday life…and in the digital realm.

When FOCUS streamed live video from its biennial SEEK 2017 Conference on Facebook, they were taken aback by the sheer impact and effectiveness of the Facebook Live SEEK broadcasts. Here’s a closer look at how they did it.

facebook live seek broadcast focus

eCatholic: How was the idea of broadcasting SEEK 2017 on Facebook Live born? Was it a difficult jump to make?

Daniel Volk Facebook Live SEEKDaniel Volk, FOCUS Website Program Manager: Our 2015 SEEK conference was covered live by a Catholic TV station, and we decided to embed that feed on our website. We received a positive response, and since then, live video has exploded. All of the major social media platforms — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat — have come out with their own platforms for live streaming since that time. Because of this trend, we saw it as something we could have success with, and wanted to give it a try.

eC: Were there any initial roadblocks/reservations at the outset? How did you overcome them?

FOCUS: We had to work through what live streaming platform to use, what sessions to broadcast, and other logistical questions, but everyone on our team was on board and excited about the idea from the outset.

eC: What was your overall goal with the Facebook Live SEEK broadcasts? How did you measure success?

FOCUS: We saw it as an opportunity to increase the awareness of SEEK and to encourage those who may want to come to a future event to join us! Our hope was to reach college students and others who might not have known about SEEK. We also wanted to be able to share the experience with those who otherwise couldn’t come to the conference. In addition, we saw it as an opportunity to grow the number of our Facebook followers and gain more engagement through that expanded reach.

In terms of reach, we were more successful than we imagined we would be.

eC: What sort of equipment was required to pull off the live broadcasts on Facebook?

FOCUS: Because we already had all of the production elements in place for the conference (cameras, microphones, lights, etc.), we didn’t need too much extra to produce a really high quality stream. We used a VidiU encoder along with a laptop, to take the feed from our displays in the conference and broadcast it live.

We were fortunate enough to have that awesome production quality in place, but at the same time, I have seen organizations who have had very successful and engaging live content using nothing but a cellphone. Anyone with a good idea can give it a try.

eC: Can you describe the team of people that worked behind-the-scenes to make the magic happen? What were their roles?

FOCUS: Similar to the previous question, a lot of the magic was already in place with the production of the conference, all we had to do was broadcast the feed. My role was to make sure we had the logistics in place; test the equipment; put up the video, title, and description; monitor comments and troubleshoot any technical issues. We also had our social media team promoting the live broadcast across various channels.

I have seen organizations who have had very successful and engaging live content using nothing but a cellphone. Anyone with a good idea can give it a try.

eC: Do you have any interesting/powerful stories of the reactions of people who engaged with your broadcasts?

FOCUS: The comments on the videos were fun to read. There was a whole range – from students who were grateful because they weren’t able to make it to parents of students who were excited to see and be a part of what their children were experiencing at SEEK.

Across many of the sessions we broadcasted, I saw several comments from people who said that the talks were exactly what they needed to hear. I also got to hear the story of the family of a SEEK attendee learning what the Eucharist was for the first time as a result of the live stream of adoration being shared on Facebook.

facebook live seek broadcast focus

eC: How have the Facebook Live SEEK broadcasts benefitted your social media efforts as a whole?

FOCUS: We have definitely noticed gains outside of those five days of the conference. We gained over 4,400 likes during SEEK plus an additional 2,000 likes in the week that followed. People are also still able to watch and share the archived videos from the live streams.

Facebook Live SEEK broadcast

eC: Was all your Facebook traffic organic or did you have a budget to promote your live content?

FOCUS: It was all organic traffic! Currently, Facebook doesn’t allow you to pay to boost live video [during a broadcast].

The combination of it being really engaging content, easily shareable, and perhaps that Facebook’s algorithm currently favors live video over many other types of content made Facebook Live a very powerful tool to reach a lot of people.

What can your Catholic organization learn from FOCUS’ Facebook Live SEEK broadcasts?

Even if you’ve never tried streaming live video for your organization, now is the time to go for it! Here are two things to take away from the success FOCUS experienced with their Facebook Live SEEK broadcasts:

  1. Give it a shot! As Daniel mentioned, all you need is a cell phone to make the magic happen. While having a high-quality stream is a good long-term goal, don’t be afraid to test the waters of live video with a simple live stream from your mobile device.
  2. Facebook > Youtube for live streaming video. Many social platforms now offer free video streaming. However, be sure to pick the right platform for your live video. Facebook is the king of social media. In fact, Facebook boasts the largest user base among all social networks and is committed to developing and promoting its Facebook Live features. Your fans are probably already active on Facebook every day. As a result, choose Facebook over Youtube or Twitter for your live streaming needs.

Has your organization tried using Facebook Live or live video streaming? Share your experience in the comments below!