With the rise of on-demand services, today’s consumers have learned to want more from brands, including rapid delivery, stellar service, and one-of-a-kind offerings at affordable prices. They have similarly high expectations for marketing, demanding creative, thoughtful, interactive and engaging campaigns worth their time.
For brands looking to grow their audiences, how can they reach consumers while meeting these demands for quality, interactivity, and creativity? Livestreaming video is one popular tactic.
According to a recent survey from Vimeo’s Livestream service, 82% of consumers prefer live video from a brand over static social posts. This same survey revealed that 67% of people who watched a livestream video purchased a ticket to a related event.
And the benefits of livestreaming are clear: 60% of respondents to a BrandLive survey reported an essential benefit of live video is real-time audience feedback, while 79% perceived live video as an important way to generate more authentic interaction with customers and clientele.
What is Livestreaming?
Livestreaming is the broadcasting of live video to an audience over the internet. Unlike pre-recorded videos, livestreaming happens “in the moment” and is unedited. The audience size, video length, topic, product, service, or event can vary, but all livestreams require similar equipment:
- a video source, including a DSLR camera, smartphone, computer screen, or webcam
- an audio source, including a lapel, handheld or USB microphone
- a video encoder which “translates” the audio-video signal into a digital, web-friendly format
- an internet-enabled device
- a Content Delivery Network (CDN) which is your streaming destination or platform, including YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn
How to Live Stream Successfully
Livestreaming requires a good amount of time, energy, and technical expertise and should always include a few trial runs to ensure a smooth broadcast. The six basic steps of livestreaming include:
Promoting your livestream before launch
Expecting to start your livestream to legions of adoring fans simply isn’t realistic without a good marketing and promotion plan ahead of time. Put together a strategy for promoting your livestream and attracting an audience long before you launch.
Connecting audio and video sources to the encoder
If you’re using your computer with a software encoder, use a capture card. For hardware encoders, make sure you have the right cables to connect the devices.
Configuring the encoder
Configure your resolution, frame rate, and bitrate. If you’re uncertain where to start, a good rule of thumb is 1280X720 resolution, 30 frame rate, and 3000 Kbps bitrate.
Configuring CDN stream settings
This includes deciding whether to stream live now or later, creating a thumbnail or preview image, completing the video description, and determining privacy settings.
Copying URL and stream name/key from CDN into the encoder
This process ties your encoder and streaming platform together using a special password called the stream name or key. Keep this safe because anyone who knows it can stream to your account. The stream URL and key can be found in the CDN’s settings.
Starting streaming on the encoder and broadcasting live
Usually this is as simple as clicking a “Start Streaming” button, but platforms may differ.
Growing Your Audience
Two impactful ways to grow your audience with livestreaming are cross-platform social interaction and simulcasting.
Cross-platform social interaction expands your brand across multiple networks. At a minimum, this strategy includes promoting your livestream on as many social media platforms as possible. Often, this means you’ll need to remind the followers on one channel about the livestream on another channel. It’s also good practice to encourage your followers to check out all your channels for new content. With cross-platform social interaction, users feel more connected as they discover new content unique to your various channels.
Simulcasting combines the words “simultaneous” and “broadcast,” and that’s exactly what it means: broadcasting across different channels at the same time. In the digital world, simulcasting means broadcasting at the same time on channels such as YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram. In more advanced setups, broadcasters can even create two separate audio channels in two different languages, allowing users to decide which audio they want to hear.
Leveraging Today’s Platforms
An important aspect of growing your audience via livestreaming is understanding how to leverage the most popular social platforms.
One of the most popular and accessible platforms, YouTube is free and is the ideal first stop for livestreaming. You can best leverage YouTube’s powerful algorithm by scheduling clips and content releases rather than releasing one-off content. Ensure you have enough content between live episodes to keep your audience interested. Use short clips as promotional teasers for the livestream. Including tags on all your video content and hitting the “subscriber bell” (which alerts subscribers when your livestream is about to begin) are key to taking full advantage of YouTube.
Facebook prides itself on allowing people to connect with their community, whether you are interacting as an individual user or a brand. For livestreaming, Facebook also provides a Live service catering to video. Whether you’re looking to grow your organic audience or using Facebook’s paid promotional advertising system, there are a few best practices to remember on this platform. These include tagging your location and adding relevant hashtags so your video content will be shared more widely. Just a small advertising budget combined with demographic targeting can help brands make a major impact with minimal spend.
Instagram provides a more intimate look into a brand. In addition to hosting a livestream through Instagram Stories, you can use the platform to create behind the scenes content, such as employees saying “hi” to the host walking by the “studio” or capturing candid moments during the broadcast. Instagram Stories is also an ideal venue for preview clips that drive viewers to your upcoming broadcasts.
LinkedIn resonates deeply in the professional world, making it a perfect fit for scheduling promotional video posts to drive viewers to your livestream. In terms of livestreaming directly on the platform, it’s important to note that LinkedIn’s video streaming platform may not leave beta any time soon. In the meantime, apply for the beta program and use the professional network to attract more people to your other platforms.
Livestreaming shows no signs of slowing down as a consumer engagement tool for brands. But utilizing social media platforms to their fullest can take a standard livestream video into a major brand-building tool.