The Complete Guide to Live Streaming

Facebook Feature Image Live Stream Guide

Live Streaming is a big deal now, Social Networking platform’s algorithms are favouring accounts and profiles that are utilising this tool. In this article, we will explain: what Live Streaming is, how to Live Stream, what to Live Stream about and what the future of live streaming is.

What is Live Streaming?

The title is quite self-explanatory but by dictionary definition, it is a video that you can record on your laptop, desktop, smartphone or tablet and stream to the internet at the same time. It is relatively straightforward to use and it is free!

When did live streaming first start?

It is very not very well known, but YouTube actually started introducing Live Streaming in 2011 to a select amount of people. However, Facebook started to catch on to the idea late 2015/early 2016 and they really started to push it and then at the end of 2016. Then Twitter introduced 360-degree live streaming. 

The popularity of Live Streaming correlates with the rise of video on the internet, making up a huge percentage of all web traffic.

What are the Benefits of Live Streaming?

  • Better interaction with the audience

When you can see in real-time of people are reacting to your video, it is more interactive than just watching a normal video. Other people can see that others are watching and feel compelled to watch and engage to feel part of the experience. Another benefit of live streaming is it feels much more personal to the people that are watching. They are seeing what you are doing right now and therefore know that it is a personal touch and not a pre-scheduled post of a video recorded a long time ago. This kind of personal touch allows for people to experience more of your business and understand how it works, who works there or catch some behind-the-scenes footage that usually people don’t get to see. It shows your business as transparent and shows to audiences that there isn’t any part of your company that you don’t want people to see.

  • There is a sense of urgency created

There are A LOT of videos online and if a Live Stream comes up in a newsfeed people feel a sense of urgency to watch the video as they know it won’t be live forever. This is something that we always like to encourage, by making yourself stand out as doing something different you look much more appealing than regurgitating the same kinds of content that everyone else is posting, not only does the icon look different which immediately makes you stand out on the actual webpage, but the fact that you are taking a different approach will appeal to the people who follow you.

  • It’s more human than normal video

Most companies use some form of video content (if you don’t you are behind), yet Live Streams can be seen as more authentic. There is no editing out stutters or slipped tongues, it is straight-up showing you the people behind the camera. You can also answer questions in real-time and show off the brand personality and look more authentic because you haven’t rehearsed any answers. This personal touch attracts people to a business as they get a genuine sense of a human connection.

How Do I Live Stream?

How to live stream is usually very simple and easy to find on each of the platforms that have it available, it is made easy because they are trying to encourage everyone to give it a go. When you are deciding on which platform to stream from you should take into consideration the kind of content that you are going to be streaming.

  • Instagram, for example, is a great live-streaming profile for social influencers as it allows for them to talk to their fans whilst in a comfortable environment like in their own home.
  • Instagram and Twitter would both be very good platforms for when you are doing a behind-the-scenes or sneak preview for example of a new product, showing a laid-back side and connecting with your audience. While these kinds of scenarios can be just as successful on Facebook or Youtube.
  • We feel as though Facebook and YouTube live streaming is perfect for the likes of interviews. Something a little bit longer or with a bit more dense content as this will attract audiences on these platforms generically and also allow you to reach a much broader audience due to the vast number of active users on these platforms.

How Do I Live Stream on Facebook?

Logging into Facebook

Facebook sets up its live streaming services in a very easy-to-use format, depending on what platform you are using the application of it varies. The simplest way of doing this is through your mobile or tablet.

All you do is simply; swipe left on your homepage (as though you are going to upload an image to your story) or click on the small camera in the top left-hand corner and then use the scroller along the bottom to go live. That’s it! You are now broadcasting to all of your followers. This is the simplest way of live streaming to Facebook however, there are other ways that can make your stream more appealing.

Should you be wanting to broadcast an interview or something that could be improved by better hardware. You can use a whole range of different hardware should you want to, this will require you to download an OBS (Open Broadcaster server). To do this you will have to have your hardware plugged into the computer that you are streaming off so ensure you sort out your cables before the day it comes to filming. With OBS allowing for you to stream higher quality footage, should you have an exclusive interview or a premiere of a new product it might be a good thing to invest your time into this. There is a lot of in detail descriptions online of how to set up your OBS should you be struggling. 

How Do I Live Stream on Twitter?

Twitter logo

Twitter’s live streaming service partners up with Periscope, another successful streaming service used by a lot of journalists and to stream to Twitter you must download Periscope to your device, which itself is free and easy to use. Because of its connection with Periscope Twitter offers 360-degree streaming which allows for you to be able to film the full 360 degrees that are around you allowing for the audience to be completely immersed in the experience. If you are to use 360-degree streaming you will have to invest in a camera that has the ability to film at 360 degrees and also live stream. However, if you want to just use Twitter as a platform to stream directly from your phone, this again is very simple. Go to post a tweet like you usually would by clicking the compose tweet button in the top right-hand corner of your device and click on ‘live’ this should then connect to your periscope and allow for you to broadcast to all of your followers.

How Do I Live Stream on Instagram?

Instagram is even simpler than Twitter when it comes to setting up a live stream, swipe across as though you’re going to upload an image to your story again and use the scroller along the bottom to select “Live” and you’re done. Instagram allows you to apply filters onto your live stream and swap and change while you are still live (similarly facebook offers this feature). As mentioned before Instagram is enormously popular with younger users and therefore this is often the direction that you should be aiming your content if you are to go live. Of course, there are millions of active monthly users and therefore as long as you are directing content towards your followers, you choose the content that suits you.

How Do I Live Stream on YouTube?

Live streaming on YouTube can cover a lot of different features, a lot of people that use YouTube’s live streaming feature use it for streaming their footage of gaming or their computer and these can be very successful. If you were wanting to show someone how to do something in a tutorial format this might be the platform that you want to go.

All of these should be very simple set up as they want to encourage you to use these features and furthermore Youtube streaming has been around for a long time and therefore they understand their users.

Are There Any Other Live Streaming Options?

There are a huge number of live streaming services available and if none of the ones listed already interest you then have a look around and find the one that suits your company’s needs the best. The reason that we have covered these and these are the ones we are recommending is due to their ease to use and their ability to reach a huge audience. Whilst there are other apps that have a lot of advanced features that could be beneficial to you it might be better to get used to the simple techniques first. Apps such as:

  • Twitch
  • Ustream
  • Wowza
  • Dacast

Are apps that you can look into should live streaming be something that you want to take further as well as checking out some of the features Periscope has to offer that aren’t connected to Twitter. Have a look around online at people that give the pros and cons of different streaming sites to find out what is best for your company.

What is the Best Live Streaming Service for My Business?

As previously mentioned it is really down to what content you are producing at that time and where you gain the most interaction. You might have gathered a huge number of followers on one of your platforms but not get much interaction, while people might interact with you a huge amount more on a platform where you haven’t actually accumulated many followers. You are going to want to go with the platform where people will get involved and click on your stream as this is the only way it is going to be effective.

To add to this, if you get similar interactions across all of your platforms you should look at the content that you are posting each time and make a decision based on that.

  • Facebook has a much broader age group that uses the platform regularly and therefore you can target pretty much any demographic with the content that you’re posting, so this is always going to be a safe choice. However, Facebook is becoming slightly out of touch with younger people.
  • Should you be trying to target younger people you should potentially be going for Twitter or Instagram. As highlighted previously we feel that Instagram would be for a more laid back kind of streaming experience where you are trying to get people to have a feel of what your company is like behind the scenes. While Facebook and YouTube could be for a longer streaming experience that is showing a premier, exclusive or an interview.

Really though, you should try it out on different platforms and get used to the experience, the more experience you have with all of the features available the more comfortable you will become with it and the more you will understand how to maximise success with each platform.

What Hardware Do I Need to Live Stream?

This completely depends on what kind of quality of footage you are wanting to stream. As mentioned previously when talking about streaming to Facebook a lot of people use expensive cameras with high-quality output when streaming on things like interviews. This shouldn’t deter you from trying to use these features however, this is just an add-on that you can choose to use. In its most basic form, all you need is a phone or tablet to live stream onto most platforms and an account to whichever social media you are posting to. No other software (apart from Periscope when streaming to Twitter), No cameras, just your phone and you can start streaming.

How Can Live Streaming Work for Small Businesses?

Live streaming can be excellent for a small business. While people might be less likely to tune in for an interview as you might not be drawing in the star names that some places are, it allows for a personal feeling to the business. For example, you see a lot of criticism of some clothing brands on Twitter for their relationships with their customers, not replying to their comments or being difficult to get in touch with. Live streaming allows for people to ask you questions live and therefore they know that you are interested in them as a customer. As well as this it allows for people to see what the working conditions are like if you were to give some behind the scenes footage, this can show that you are a positive environment and make people warm to you as a company.

What are Some Good Ideas for a Live Stream?

Live Streaming

There is such a huge number of possibilities of things that you can choose to live stream should you want to use this feature and it depends on what kind of company you are going to be streaming. Some ideas would be;

  • Behind-the-scenes work to show where you’re at with a project, are you getting near the end of it or is it just in its embryonic stage, either way, this can create buzz for an audience.
  • Showing people around your new (or even old) workspace, by inviting people into your workspace you are showing people the work environment and showing that you have nothing that you are hiding from your followers.
  • Introducing people who work for the company, again this is the transparent idea that people like to have of companies.
  • Exclusives are always effective and likely to draw people into your business.
  • Interviews as previously mentioned can be great as you can get the audience involved while it is happening.

The suggestions could go on, but as previously mentioned going out and giving it a go is the best way of finding out how it works for your business and how you want to use it to better your businesses online image.

What Makes a Good Live Stream?

As long as you have delivered the information that you were hoping to, to a reasonable audience you have been successful. The main way to evaluate your live streams success would be through interaction. If you have a reasonable number of people watching your stream live and interacting with it, for example by asking questions or reacting to it such as likes then you are delivering your intended message.

Don’t worry about looking at how many viewers other peoples streams have gotten as it all depends on the size of your following. Also, you could have people interacting with your post and showing to everyone following that you are a helpful company and you have a good relationship with your followers even if you don’t have a huge number of people viewing it live. Don’t stress about numbers at first, just try and get used to using the feature and being interactive and relaxed while doing so and the rest will follow.

What Time of Day Should I Live Stream?

Live streams can be successful any time of day, once you have finished a live stream you will be asked if you want to share it to your social media, this will then keep it on your story for the rest of the day. Once it has been on you can then promote it on all of you other platforms. Not only will this promote the live stream that you have done and allow for people to see the footage you have collected but it will also allow for you to promote your other social media pages, highlighting that you do live streams on other platforms.

Usually, we would recommend that you post during times when people are available; travelling to work, on their lunch break or when they are finished work. People spend a lot of time on their phones during their breaks at work and therefore posting during lunch could be effective as you can then share the post again later in the night. Equally posting on the night means that you have a lot of people free from their 9-5, but as mentioned before interaction is more key than timing. All social media platforms are slowly moving away from chronological order and heading more towards trying to show you posts that you might be interested in, the more interaction the broader your post will be spread. Take a look at our post on Instagrams algorithm so you can get more of an understanding of it.

How Should I Promote My Live Stream?

It depends what kind of thing you are going to be streaming, if this is something scheduled such as an interview then you should let people know beforehand when it is going to be happening and what time, as this is something you want to draw in as much audience as possible for. You should not be deterred from going live just because you haven’t promoted it beforehand however if there is something that you know would be perfect for a live stream but it is impromptu, go for it anyway. This is similar to the transparency thing that we mentioned before, you can always promote your stream after it has happened and upload it to your other platforms. We would focus mostly on promoting your live stream on all of your social media platforms, the people that use the live streaming feature are likely to be regular users of social media and therefore you should be able to reach them relatively simple.

What is the Future of Live Streaming?

360-degree steaming is the next stage in live streaming as it allows for the audience to be involved in every part of what is going on, they can see audience reactions, interviewer, interviewee, literally, everything that is around the camera will be able to be seen. Not only for this use but also the fact that it is a very impressive piece of equipment, this alone will draw people into your page as they will be impressed with the technology that you are using. As this technology gets better we will begin to be seeing it much more regularly across social media platforms.

Final Thoughts + Quick Tips

Our final thoughts on live streaming, as it is with a lot of posts go out and give the feature a go. At first, you might feel a little bit awkward or not know what you’re doing but the more you do it the more comfortable you will become in front of the camera. Live streaming success is all about how natural you look as it gives you an opportunity to answer audience questions and show your followers you are interested in their interests in your company. Be calm and relaxed and respond to the questions asked by the people watching and your success should follow.

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