With many brands looking to create video that catches the attention of followers and new customers, live video through social media is growing as an attractive option. Once seen as a niche feature, more and more brands are understanding how live video can expand their social reach, while bringing increased versatility to the content they share.
Many popular platforms provide integrated live features for consumer as well as organizational use; this includes:
It’s been close to a year since Facebook introduced it’s live video feature, but with an intense marketing push (and some death in competition), it feels like Facebook has been the leader of live video for a while. While not necessarily true, their large user base does bring livestreaming to the mainstream, and makes it easy to find an audience.
Simply clicking the “Live” button on the top left corner of your newsfeed will take you to your camera where streaming happens as soon as you click “Go Live”, notifying your friends and followers in the process.
Twitter and Periscope
Twitter had a turbulent 2016, but still managed to add a few updates to its live video capabilities. The biggest update included adding some features of Periscope -- it’s standalone live video app -- into Twitter’s own iPhone and Android app. In order to compete with Facebook, Twitter also added 360 degree live video capabilities for select users.
In Periscope, hit the “Go Live” button to stream to your followers immediately. In Twitter, the newly added live feature is accessible by clicking the “Live” icon under your status update box, after you click the “Compose” button.
Branching out from the Instagram Stories feature launched in 2016, Instagram added live video under the camera icon on the top left of the app. Once clicked, a new “Live” option will be at the bottom of your screen. Click “Start Live Video” for your followers to be notified about your livestream.
What makes Instagram stand out is that once your live video ends, it’s gone from the platform entirely. While it’s unclear whether Instagram keeps the video in their own cloud, your live video won’t appear on your profile, your Story feed or the newsfeed of your followers once you end it the broadcast.
Live capabilities for YouTube have been around since 2011, which isn’t surprising for a social media platform that relies on user video as its sole content. Yet YouTube only established live streaming via its app last year, catching up with Facebook’s own mobile features.
With a verified YouTube account, enable “Live Streaming” through Creator Studio tools, and you’re ready to go. Once done, you can choose “Stream Now” to start broadcasting right away, or choose “Events” for additional previewing options and scheduling of your live event. Going live through the YouTube smartphone app or via a desktop webcam are the clearest methods of broadcasting to your subscribers.
Founded in 2007, LiveStream was once a leader of live video in an empty market, but with this feature now embedded in larger social media giants like Facebook and Instagram, it doesn’t make much sense to be on a service that only does live video (especially if your existing audience is on another platform). Nevertheless, companies like Spotify, TED, New York Times and CNET all use LiveStream for live programming. It also isn’t complicated.
A simple tap of the “Go Live” button will have you broadcasted to an audience in no time.
For brands with a video game demographic, Twitch is the best live streaming service. Given the popularity of the site for video game walkthrough videos, eSports and talk shows on the mentioned subjects, it can mean your creative live content is paired with similar videos from others in your industry.
Setting up your livestream is not as easy as tapping a button on your smartphone (due to the majority of streams being video game live plays), but a more techy setup may be worth it if you’re catering to the right audience.
How Much Does It Have to Cost?
The cost of live video does depend on the type of setup you’re looking to put together, as well as how professional in quality you want your stream to be. While platforms like Instagram with only mobile capability make for a free yet mandatory choice to record via smartphone, platforms like Facebook Live, YouTube and LiveStream all provide other recording options.
Using your phone can still be a solid option for recording; just add an external microphone and a grip stand or tripod to stabilize the camera before going live. This will allow for mobile freedom without the broadcast needing a steady cameraman.
For desktop broadcasting, using your own computer’s webcam or USB-powered cam, partnered with a broadcasting software like the open-source OBS will also work too. But for more professional quality broadcasting that you plan to do often, perhaps seek the consulting services of LiveStream, or even professional equipment, such as NewTek, used by many professional broadcasters and news stations. This would be recommended if your company plans to heavily invest in live content, and you feel expensive equipment would be a necessity.
Will The Trend Last?
With video being on every marketer’s mind for 2017, live video will definitely stick around and be part of many brands’ campaign strategies. Brands like Play-Doh are already using live video to showcase products in half-hour segments, whereas brands like Benefit and Birchbox are thinking of live content so much, they’re looking for staff who are comfortable with being ready for camera.
Plus, with the added spontaneity of live video, brands can be less fearful of a lower broadcast budget and not having to worry about editing the video later . These perks elevate live broadcasting; especially if video editing or a production team isn’t something you have on-hand.
How to Pick Your Best Live Platform?
If asking whether you should consider live broadcasting in your social media plan, that does depend on your company’s bandwidth, overall social strategy, and your tone and brand image. If you feel live video is a step in the right direction for you, make sure you follow where your existing social media audience already is for optimal views and conversation. For example, if Facebook is where your followers tend to migrate, trying out live video there makes the most sense.
Once the platform is decided on, the next step is to analyze who your active audience is; what do they like to see from you in social content, what gets the most engagement, and is that something that can be elaborated on through live video? If these questions generate interesting content that best represents your brand, live video might be a step in the right direction. It might be a work in progress, but it could bring out a facet of your brand that regular video, photos or your typical social marketing may be leaving out.
Will live video enhance the experience with your customers or clients further? Will it add another facet to your brand that you feel you may not hit yet? Think about this clearly, and plan content that can be exciting live video. While we always want content to be a runaway success, this can take time to align with what your audience wants to see. Be prepared, be relaxed and have fun creating something that puts your company into the exciting terrain of live social content!