Lessons learned with Periscope and Facebook Live

I explained in my previous post how we came to start using live social video at William & Mary, now I’ll share some of the lessons learned from our first three broadcasts.

It doesn’t have to be a long planned out project

Our first two broadcasts were scheduled a week or so ahead of time. However, our most recent interview was put together in just a few hours. When all you need is a quiet-ish room, a good WiFi connection, and somewhere stable to put your iPhone, a broadcast can come together pretty quickly.

Have two people on camera if you can

Having two people on a broadcast makes things feel a bit more natural, and allows for some pre-generated questions if your community is quiet. For all three broadcasts we have had two people “on camera”. For the Periscope broadcast we interviewed Professor Settle and one of her research students together. This was great as they were able to interact with both each other and the audience asking questions. Plus, it showcased the relationship between our students and professors and how well they can work together. For the interview with John Dickerson we had asked for questions beforehand but did not receive any. We brainstormed questions in the days before, sent them to him so he had some idea of what we’d be asking, and then used those as the base of the interview the day-of. We followed a similar protocol for the interview with Professor Clemens.

Periscope may have been first, but Facebook Live is much more user friendly

Having comments not disappear is very useful, especially when the person running the broadcast is not the one on camera. For our first broadcast with Professor Settle, I was frantically writing down questions on a notepad as they came in on Periscope while someone else was keeping an eye on Twitter for questions. When something came in I’d raise my hand to get their attention and then read the question out loud off camera. It made things a bit awkward and honestly more stressful as I was afraid I would miss someone’s question.

Always download the raw video

Both Periscope and Facebook Live give you the option to download the raw video to your phone. As much as I’d like to trust these companies to seamlessly save the video for posterity, having a backup is always great. Plus, in the case of Periscope up until a few weeks ago, saving the video to your device was the only permanent copy of the broadcast. This also allows you to put the videos up on YouTube or another video hosting platform to use for other projects.

You must have good WiFi

Securing a solid WiFi connection was the biggest obstacle for us when we did the interview with John Dickerson. The show was being filmed in the historic Wren Building’s Great Hall which had weaker WiFi than Facebook preferred. Facebook won’t even let you start the broadcast if it doesn’t think your connection is sufficient. To ensure we had a good connection I found an ethernet port in a nearby room and ran cable to my MacBook and used that as a private WiFi hotspot to use during the broadcast and it worked great.

Stay stable with a tripod (real or makeshift)

A shaky video can be really annoying for your viewers, so try to avoid holding your device by hand if possible. A tripod is ideal but a makeshift one using books or office supplies will work just as well. The first time we used a file holder that could be placed on a nearby desk that cradled the iPad Air we were using for the broadcast. For the second interview we used a standard tripod with an iPhone 6 held by hand on top (that was a bit more precarious than I’d prefer, but worked nonetheless). For our most recent broadcast we commandeered a small clock stand and a large stack of books to get to our desired height and angle.

You don’t have to use special media equipment (but it’s nice if you have it)

For our first broadcast we used an iPad Air, for the following two we used my iPhone 6. The reason we transitioned was camera quality, the iPhone camera is leagues better than the iPad one overall. We used no external microphones and overall I think the quality and sound were good (or at least, what would be expected for a livestream). Whatever device you’re using, having good, clear audio is key for your broadcast so make sure you check and test this before going live.

We’ve discussed purchasing some external equipment and there are over a dozen live video services out there that integrate with Facebook Live so some improvements may be made (multi-camera options would be amazing) but the simple iPhone works great.

Always test first

We have a dummy Facebook page that we use to test each video before we go live. Before every broadcast we have done a test broadcast. This allows us to know exactly what to expect when going live, check audio quality, lighting, and the WiFi connection.


As you’re setting up your video be aware of how to frame your shot. Facebook Live will crop your video square when showing it in the feed so make sure your subjects are always in that square frame even if you’re filming in landscape. Also when framing your shot, keep in mind how your video will appear in the user’s Facebook feed: no sound. So try to make the visuals interesting on their own without the audio if you can.

Give people time

It will take a minute or two for your audience to get the notification that you’re live (if you’re not on a scheduled time for your broadcast) and folks will need to get onto Facebook and find your page so give them a little time before diving in to whatever the main topic of your video is. Spend this time introducing your topic, who you’re interviewing, what’s happening on campus, etc. Also, around halfway through your video it doesn’t hurt to reiterate whatever you said in your introduction to catch those that may have come in later in the broadcast.

According to TechCrunch, Facebook will be launching a feature allowing you to pre-schedule broadcasts along with a “waiting room” for folks to wait in beforehand. They’re also going to allow two-person broadcasts (so folks from two different locations in the same stream) so that will be a nice new feature whenever it gets released.

Have you tried one of the live social video platforms? What lessons have you learned?


Cross-posted from William & Mary’s University Web & Design Blog.


William & Mary’s forays into live social video

John Dickerson interviewed for W&M's Facebook Live, photo courtesy of Sarah Juliano

Finding great ways to use live streaming social video on campus had been on the agenda of the social media folks at William & Mary since Periscope launched in the spring of 2015. However, no great projects or ideas really materialized, as the ephemeral nature of the Periscope videos made it feel like it was a lot of work for something that would disappear after 24 hours (granted, Snapchat has a similar issue but it is a very different platform, and possibly another blog post).

When Facebook Live entered onto the scene last year and then opened up live video to all people and pages this past April, that seemed like the true tipping point for live social video as the biggest social network was throwing their hat in the ring. This presented a really interesting new (and more permanent) way to communicate with our audiences on social media and I knew this was a tool we needed to be utilizing at W&M.

In University Communications we are always looking for ways to showcase our great faculty and students. Offering a way for our entire community to interact with interesting W&M people in real time (and ideally discuss some of their research) via live social video on platforms where our audiences already existed was a great melding of trying out an new technology and tying in to part of our general social media strategy.

W&M did our first live social video in late March, interviewing Government professor Jaime Settle about politics and social media. We had planned to use both Periscope and Facebook Live simultaneously (because why not just dive in head first and try all the things?), but at that point Facebook Live was still being a bit squirrely as to whether it was available to all pages or not. The day of the broadcast Facebook didn’t cooperate so we just used Periscope.

Our first Facebook Live post was right before graduation in May, when Face the Nation was on campus to interview our chancellor and W&M alumnus Robert M. Gates. John Dickerson, the host of Face the Nation, agreed to “Face the Tribe” in a short interview after they wrapped up filming of the show.

We completed our second Facebook live broadcast yesterday, talking to Government professor Clay Clemens about the the UK’s vote to leave the European Union.

I think this new way to interact with our audience and showcase great folks from W&M is definitely staying in the rotation. There have been a few lessons learned from these first forays into live social video and I’ll share those in my next post.

Cross-posted from William & Mary’s University Web & Design Blog



Shrimp Ceviche

For one of our themed wine dinners a few years back I opted to make a ceviche as one of our two dishes to contribute. I’d never made it before, was honestly rather intimidated by the idea of relying on citrus juice to cook the seafood, but was pleasantly and deliciously surprised by the result. Each time I’ve made the dish I’ve based it off of Simply Recipe’s Ceviche recipe but switched up the seafood mix. Scallops and shrimp, white fish and scallops, just shrimp…as long as everything’s an equal size and the seafood ends up being two pounds worth, just about anything will work. It’s cool, refreshing, flavorful, and perfect for these hot summer days. (Plus, the latest time I made it I opted to serve it in my grandmother’s vintage shrimp cocktail dishes, it looked so cool.)Shrimp Ceviche


Pickled Things

  • Herb Crusted Salmon with Onion Caper Topping and spring risotto
  • Beets
  • Shredded Beets
  • Pickling liquid

Growing up, I always loved pickles. Especially “Bread & Butter” style ones, sweet and tart at the same time and I could eat a dozen in a sitting. During the summer my mom would make quick pickles with the cucumbers from our garden just sliced up with some rice wine vinegar (often a flavored one with dill or other herbs) and those were just as tasty. Now I’m finally moving on to other pickled vegetables. For the longest time I was dubious of pickled beets (were they really that color? Answer: yes) and other veggies as it just seemed that the texture would be really odd. But when we joined our CSA we would get beets, cucumbers, red onions, and oftentimes we weren’t quite sure what to do with them. I roasted the beets once, but then decided to be adventurous and try them pickled…they’re really tasty that way!

For a recent spring potluck meal I made pickled shredded beets, using our mandolin to shred the beets into matchsticks (and chopping the beet green stems as well) then concocting a pickling spice mix (I think I used this recipe from Williams-Sonoma) and combining that with equal parts rice wine and cider vinegar. I didn’t pre-cook the beets, just put them into the hot pickling liquid and that quick cooked them. They were a hit at the potluck so definitely will go on the roster to make again.

Another good pickled topping recently discovered is pickled red onions. We made the Salt Baked Herbed Salmon with Onion and Caper Vinaigrette from Food52’s Genius Recipes cookbook and the salmon turned out wonderfully flavorful and moist and the onion topping was one of my favorite parts of the dish. That sauce ended up on tacos, eggs, salads and anything else I could think to put it on as we were going through the leftovers.


Egg Breakfast Sandwiches

Fried Egg Sandwich

Weekend breakfasts in the Beker household have often become egg-centric. Our CSA includes a dozen fresh eggs in their twice monthly deliveries and (for better or worse) we don’t eat a lot of eggs during the week, so the weekend is our chance to catch up.

We started with simple fried or scrambled eggs (either quick or slow, either method ideally resulting in soft, custardy eggs). However, I have always been a fan of the breakfast sandwich (confession: McDonald’s Bacon, Egg & Cheese Biscuit is a road trip favorite) and wanted to recreate them at home. We had English muffins, smoked Gouda, bacon, eggs…everything needed for a tasty breakfast sandwich. So in the last few months we’ve veered to the handheld breakfast making variations with different cheeses, either frying (being sure to place the yolk so it is directly against the top piece of bread so when you squish everything together it results in a tasty yolk “sauce” that absorbs into the top) or, more recently, scrambling the egg, and serving it atop a toasted, cheesed English muffin.

The scrambling approach I was always a bit leery of as I could never figure out the right approach to get a non-falling-apart egg, until I came across the Bodega-Style Egg on Food52. It really is “stupidly easy.” Crack your egg(s) mix with some salt and pepper, pour in your pan, add cheese (if desired), and leave them be until they’re cooked, then fold so they fit on your bread and serve. To be honest, I don’t leave them completely alone, I will swirl the pan so that the eggs are spread out and as thin as possible but no shaking, stirring or scraping is required. Top it with a bit of Sriracha or other hot sauce, and you have a great, full flavored, and super easy, breakfast (or lunch, or dinner).


Bacon-wrapped Chorizo-stuffed Dates

  • Mise en place
  • Ready for the oven
  • Fresh out of the oven
  • Ready to eat!

I first encountered this dish at Mas Tapas in Charlottesville, Virginia and have ordered it every place I’ve seen it since. The combination of sweet and salty, sticky and crunchy is just amazing. For Wine Dinner: Tapas Edition we decided to opt for a recipe from Food & Wine Magazine that tossed a bit of chorizo into the mix as well, we were not disappointed!


Wine Dinner: Tapas Edition

  • Table setup (from the stairs)
  • Table setup from the French doors
  • Rose on ice
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  • The wine lineup (the next morning)
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  • Spicy Roasted Chickpease
  • Gazpacho with Basil Cornbread Croutons (Leggs)
  • Gazpacho with Basil Cornbread Croutons (Leggs)
  • Bacon-wrapped Chorizo-stuffed Dates
  • Sausage and bean stew (Fabada Asturiana) (Leggs)
  • Sausage and bean stew (Fabada Asturiana) (Leggs)
  • Jamon Tasting (Golds)
  • Roasted Mushrooms (Claire & Andy)
  • Grilled Spiced Pork (Claire & Andy)
  • Saffron Ice Cream with Crispy Jamon Chip (Golds)
  • Tres Leches Ice Cream (Golds)

We had tried in previous years to hold a wine dinner outside and were unfortunately thwarted by an inopportune rainstorm. This year, however, we lucked out with a beautiful 70 degree, low humidity, partially sunny Saturday evening. We moved our dining room table outside, brought out our ever so fancy sheet of plywood to expand the table to seat eight people and set everything up. It’s always wonderful to eat outside and much food and wine was consumed and merriment had (per usual) that night.

The menu was:

Spiced Roasted Chickpeas (Bekers)

Gazpacho with Basil Cornbread Croutons (Leggs) with Amas de Guerra

Bacon-wrapped Chorizo-stuffed Dates (Bekers)

Sausage and bean stew (Fabada Asturiana) (Leggs) with Berola

Jamon Tasting (Golds) with Alleme 2014 Txakolina

Roasted Mushrooms (Claire & Andy) with Vega Sindoa 2013

Grilled Spiced Pork (Claire & Andy) with Hacienda Lopez de Haro Rioja Riserva 2005

Blood Sausage with Toasted Bread and Olive Oil (Golds) with LZ Vinedos de Lanziego Rioja

Clam, Mussel, Shrimp and Chorizo Paella (Bekers) with Juis Canas Rioja 2008 Reserva

Roasted Patatas Bravas with Double Garlic Aioli and Red Wine-Braised Chorizo (Bekers) with Luis Canas Crianza Rioja 2009

Saffron Ice Cream with Crispy Jamon Chip & Tres Leches Ice Cream (Golds) with Pedro Ximened Bodegas To Albala 1983 Gran Reserva


Sean Brock’s Roast Chicken

  • Searing the chicken in cast iron
  • Half chicken
  • Making the gravy
  • The final dish, chicken, potatoes and gravy

After the success of the roast pork from the Heritage cookbook and wanting a simple tasty dinner the night before Valentine’s Day, I delved into the cookbook again to see if Brock had a take on simple roast chicken, and he did. Utilizing the ever wonderful cast iron skillet the chicken is first butterflied then split in half, then browned and pressed in a cast iron skillet to wonderously crisp up the skin then finished in the oven. Served with stacked scalloped potatoes, garlic confit and a simple lemon herb gravy from the chicken drippings, this was just what was needed on a chilly winter night.