Live streaming video lets you broadcast a video in real-time to viewers. It can be useful if you want to capture important events as they happen and share them with your followers and fans. It also gives you a way to quickly and easily talk with your community.
Instead of having to write a lengthy blog post or send an email, you can click an app on your phone and show your viewers what you’re doing. Businesses can use the power of live video to build brand awareness, drive sales, and strengthen the bond with their customers.
Which Platforms Can You Use for Live Streaming?
There are dozens of platforms that will allow you to broadcast a live video to viewers. But there are five sites in particular that are the most popular and the easiest to use.
Here’s what you need to know about these live streaming video sites:
Facebook Live may be the most well-known and popular live-streaming service. You can use it to broadcast from your profile so your friends see your video or you can use it to stream in a group so other group members can watch your video. But there’s also a third option—streaming from your business page.
One of the advantages of using Facebook Live is that the service will automatically notify your friends after you’ve been streaming for a few minutes. This means that Facebook is doing the hard work of gathering viewers for you. All you have to do is hit record.
But that doesn’t mean Facebook Live is the perfect solution. One of the biggest problems with this feature is that it can be difficult to get your video indexed in search engines and after a week or so, it’ll be much harder for viewers to find your video.
That’s where YouTube Live has a slight edge. While you broadcast live to your channel subscribers, your video is already being indexed by Google. This means if your goal for live streaming video was to rank in the search engine results page for a certain keyword, then YouTube might be a better fit for you.
Although YouTube Live is great for ranking, it’s not always easy to get interaction on your live videos. You may also experience a large number of users attempting to “troll” your video by posting hateful or unkind content in the comments. If you’ll be broadcasting, you may want a friend nearby who can moderate comments and remove inappropriate ones.
Another way to live stream to your audience is to use Instagram Stories. Instagram Stories allow you to broadcast to your audience but they’re a bit different than Facebook Live or YouTube Live. That’s because Instagram Stories are limited to just sixty seconds.
You can keep recording several stories back-to-back if you need more time. But try to limit additional videos to no more than four. Too many stories can overwhelm your fans, so don’t aim for a 50-part series.
Another interesting feature of Instagram Stories is that they’re designed to disappear after just 24 hours. This creates urgency for your followers and makes them more likely to watch your video stream right away.
But if you need a bit more flexibility, Instagram does allow you to “pin” stories, a feature that the company refers to as “Stories Highlights”. However, pinned stories don’t appear in your newsfeed. They’re only seen on your profile so a user has to navigate to your Instagram page in order to see your story.
Some brands prefer to use websites that are dedicated to live streaming for their broadcasts. One of the most popular options is LiveStream. The service is designed for professionals and organizations. Their customer list includes businesses, schools, churches, sporting venues, agencies, bands, and governments.
The most exciting feature of LiveStream is that you can create broadcast through their service and have that broadcast appear on Facebook, YouTube, and other live streaming video services at the same time. This lets you experience the benefits of each network without having to use clunky programs or complicated software to reach all of your followers.
Some businesses and brands prefer to use Ustream for their broadcasts. Ustream is similar to LiveStream in that it allows you to broadcast from anywhere. But Ustream also has a few features that LiveStream doesn’t.
With Ustream, you can password protect your streams. This can be useful if you’ll want to reach one audience exclusively. For example, if you’re a fitness trainer, then you may broadcast to Facebook with mini workouts.
But your paid subscribers get to access special full-length workouts. With Ustream, you can create the stream then give the password to your members only.
Another advantage of Ustream is that you have access to analytics and data. With analytics, you can learn more about your viewers like and dislike. This helps you create content that appeals to your audience and engages them.
When it comes to choosing a platform for live streaming video, you may want to test out different social networks or websites. As you experiment, you’ll discover what works best for your community and what platforms they prefer.
Getting Ready to Stream
Now that you’re familiar with your live streaming video options, you may be tempted to turn on your phone or webcam and start recording. But don’t make this mistake or you might regret it later.
It’s better to take some time and prepare your environment before you begin streaming. The right environment can make a difference between viewers that leave after a few minutes and ones that stay for the entire video.
The most important part of your environment is your lighting. If you’re in a brightly lit area with too much direct sunlight, you may appear washed out. If you’re in a room that’s too dark, it may be difficult for viewers to see you.
So, before you record, take a few selfies. Check the lighting in the selfie. Is it easy to see yourself or do you have to squint? When you take your selfies, you should also check for glare. For example, you may think you look great in your sunglasses but if they’re presenting a glare, you may need to remove them or adjust your position so they’re not distracting your audience.
After you’ve corrected any lighting problems, test your sound. If possible, create a voice memo on your phone and talk like you regularly would for a minute. Then listen to your recording. Is there a lot of background noise making it hard for you to be heard clearly? Is there a troubling echo that makes you sound like you’re in a tunnel?
If background noise is an issue, try moving to another location for your video. If there’s an echo, try adding rugs to the floor and put towels under your doors and near windows. The linens will absorb sound and soften it, creating less of an echo.
Now, you want to consider the background that your viewers will be seeing. If you’ll be in your home office, make sure the background is free of clutter like stacks of books, distracting decorations, or eye-catching artwork.
This doesn’t mean your background must be sterile. It’s fine to have a bookshelf with your favorite books on it, just make sure what’s seen is neat and organized so it doesn’t call attention away from your message.
What To Wear
Finally, don’t forget to consider what you’ll wear during a live streaming video. Try to avoid clothing with loud graphics or text on them. Think of your video like a job interview. If you’d wear the outfit when seeking a potential employer, then it’s probably acceptable for your video.
Be careful about the jewelry and accessories you choose to wear, too. A sparkly necklace might be beautiful but if it catches in the light, it can distract your viewers. If you move your hands a lot, then wearing bangle bracelets will also make it hard for your visitors to focus. There’s nothing wrong with wearing jewelry or accessories in your videos. Just pick them strategically.
How to Find Topics for Live Streaming
One of the hardest parts of creating a live streaming video is knowing what to say. You don’t want to start a broadcast just for the sake of streaming. You’ll likely ramble and risk boring viewers or you may say things you don’t really mean that end up damaging your brand in the long-term.
That’s why it’s smart to think about what you want to say before you go live. This doesn’t mean you have to write out every single word and rehearse it 30 times before you start streaming. It just means that you have an outline, a basic idea of where you want to go before you start the journey.
The best place to begin seeking ideas is in your niche groups. You can do this by creating a poll in your Facebook group. Ask your members what topics they want to know more about. Give them several possible choices and see which ones are the most popular.
You can also start a sentence and ask members to finish the sentence. For example, if you sell yarn to crafters, you might post: “The thing I really could use help on when it comes to my knitting is…”
Use the answers to come up with topics. If one of your members shares that she could use help learning how to make different stitches, then you could do a broadcast where you recommend a stitch dictionary or other resource. Topics like these might seem simple but they can be very effective because you’re tapping into a real need for your audience.
Look At Blog or Website
Another way to find content ideas is to look at your blog or website. Study your analytics or metrics and see which posts on your site get the most traffic. Do you have a post on the 5 Worst Mistakes that Writers Make on Twitter?
You can take this content and use it on your live streaming video. Don’t read out what the post says word-for-word but do share the main points again. Weave in new stories, add extra details, and let your audience know you’re there to serve them.
Re-purpose Reports or eBooks
Some entrepreneurs have also re-purposed short reports and eBooks. Depending on the length, you may even have enough content for a whole series on one topic.
For example, if you have an 8-chapter eBook on web design for newbies, then create eight live streams. Each broadcast is devoted to studying a chapter. You can even invite your viewers to download your eBook so they can follow along.
Don’t get caught up in the trap of thinking that your live streaming video content must be perfect or earth-shattering. Sometimes, the most popular content is stuff you consider pretty basic (like the stich dictionary or Twitter mistakes).
Create Engaging Live Streaming Video Content
When it comes to creating broadcasts, try to identify the purpose of your stream before you go live. This can guide you as you create content and engage with your viewers. For example, some common reasons brands and businesses live stream include:
- Growing their mailing list
- Educating their community
- Getting the word out about a new product
- Connecting with their community
- Promoting a product as an affiliate
Have A Goal For Live Video
Keep in mind that there’s no right or wrong reason to broadcast a live streaming video. But you do need a clear goal because it helps you shape your ideas. For example, a stream where your purpose is to grow your mailing list is going to be different from a stream where you’re promoting an affiliate product.
One of the best ways to make your content engaging is to tell stories during your broadcast. People love hearing stories because they can relate to them. They add an element of humanity to your brand.
But the stories must be relevant to your live streaming video topic. If your live stream is about how to become more productive and you start telling a story about your cat, you’re going to lose viewers and engagement rates will drop. So, stay on topic when you talk.
You can show off your personality in your streams. But keep in mind what your brand represents. If you have a brand that’s upbeat and funny, then you want to be upbeat and funny in your videos.
But if your brand is serious and informative, then don’t crack jokes the entire time you’re broadcasting your live streaming video. Your viewers will be disappointed by the difference between the content they normally get from you and how you behaved on video.