Eager to embrace live video? Inspiration and tips on how to get started
How can you go live with confidence? Columnist Jordan Kasteler discusses the strategy and tools you'll need to make sure you don't look like an amateur.
You’ve likely heard that expression. It’s descriptive of what the world is feeling these days with the incredible amounts of content being published every second. We’re shocked by the amount of information hitting us every second.
For a business, this tidal wave of information makes it harder to stand out. The key? Do something different.
Live video is the perfect way to tap into that differentiation and create a bigger brand name and reputation. And now, with so many of the top social media platforms making that a possibility, you’d be silly to ignore the world of live video.
Where can you go live?
In the past, making a live appearance involved hiring a PR team to get you on live television spots. Today, things are different. Four social networks hand the reigns over to you to create your own live segments — Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.
Twitter is the newest social media platform to embrace live video, and probably one of the most interesting. That’s because it’s hit the scene in a fast and furious way — by getting major networks, including Bloomberg TV, to use their platform for live video. That, in my mind, proves the viability of this platform as a strong live video contender.
YouTube is the largest video platform online, so it makes sense it also offers the option to create your own live videos. Recently, it made its live video option even more powerful by cutting down latency times to only a few seconds. If you have a healthy number of subscribers on your YouTube channel already, this is a definite must-try for your business.
Facebook has had a live option for well over a year, and it’s proven to be beneficial for many of the brands that have jumped on board. One reason why? The algorithm. Facebook pushes live videos to the top of newsfeeds, giving you a better chance of getting seen — an increasingly difficult task these days.
One of my favorite Facebook pages that’s crushing the world of live video is Mashable. They’re frequently posting from events, which helps me feel connected to the latest and greatest breakthroughs without leaving the comfort of my office chair.
Facebook owns Instagram, so it makes sense that there’s an option on this social media network to go live, but it’s different from what viewers see elsewhere. The Instagram Live videos disappear as soon as you end your broadcast. That means going live on this platform is best done among an audience that is actively engaged with your brand already.
You might be wondering why you should even bother with Instagram if the videos will just disappear. The answer? It helps your other posts get pushed higher up in the newsfeed and boosts engagement during your broadcasts, so it’s definitely worthy of consideration and trial.
If you’re wondering which platform to start with, consider where you already have the highest engagement and begin there. Then, trickle down to the other platforms. Test and tweak until you determine which one gives your business the best result.
A few examples of companies that have dominated the live market
Live video has quickly become an uncontested hot trend. That’s probably because people these days live in FOMO — Fear of Missing Out. By watching live videos on social media, fans and followers can feel like they’re part of the action without leaving the comfort of their couch.
Many businesses are using this to their advantage. There are hundreds of examples of companies doing this well, but I’ve been particularly drawn to three.
Tough Mudder is known for wildly popular obstacle races through mud, electrocution and freezing cold water. Not only do people love to participate, but they also enjoy tuning in and watching others take on these obstacles — so much so that Tough Mudder created their own Facebook page for all of their live events.
On this page, you can see updates on upcoming live races, including their biggest race with a $50,000 prize on the line. Instead of relying on television networks to cover the big race, they decided to cover their own.
Mashable is a popular blog with many facets: trending stories, entertainment, tech news and so on. But sometimes, the process of breaking those stories – writing, editing, videoing — is too slow.
With Facebook Live, Mashable has been a thought leader by reporting live from major trade shows and commenting in real time on the latest news. Here’s an example of one of their live reports about a new Mercedes-Benz car.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) is well-known for helping homeless pets find homes, and now they’re using Facebook Live to continue the connection between pets and families. Here’s an adorable cat video from their New York City Adoption Center. It’s a faster, easier way to reach the masses and make the public fall in love with the animals, so they can put them in their forever homes faster.
These organizations are far from the only ones jumping on the trend of going live. Plenty of businesses of all sizes are going live. And while this is an excellent marketing model, many people and companies are feeling held back out of fear.
Overcoming the fears of going live
One of the biggest worries that stops companies from going live is fear. They worry about flubbing their live video. They worry about making a mistake that could cost them. Since there’s no edit option, they worry about taking too many missteps and weakening their brand.
I can assure you, many businesses have had these same fears. The ones that go live with confidence are the ones that have a specific plan in place before sharing their videos with the world.
Creating a Facebook Live plan
The beauty of Facebook Live is that it affords you the opportunity to tell your story in real time and in a unique way. Notice that none of the examples above are alike. For example, even though both Tough Mudder and Mashable broadcast from events, they do so in different ways.
So, what will your business do when you go live? There are a few approaches you can take.
For example, you can create a weekly news show to talk about the news in your industry. Or you can do a Facebook Live episode for every new blog post you publish.
Regardless of what you do, having a plan in place instantly tightens up your strategy.
To map out your plan, come up with an idea of what type of information you want to broadcast to your audience. What will your takeaway be?
Then, determine the format. Who will do the storytelling? How long will you be on live video? Will you engage with the people watching? Or will you treat your live appearances like virtual television shows with only a one-sided interaction?
Once you understand the purpose of your live videos, its almost time to record, but first, you need the right tools in place.
Tools for creating live video
Remember, you don’t want to look like an amateur when you show up online. With these tools, you won’t. Here are some of my favorites.
Sometimes, such as at live events, you won’t have the luxury of picking your lighting. It’ll be done for you by whatever venue you’re in.
However, if you’re planning a weekly show, or a regular update on a blog post, you can do a little tweaking to your space to make you look better on the screen.
Before you decide which light you want to use, you’ll have to pick your backdrop. Will it be busy? Will it be simple? Will you hang a white sheet on a wall? Will you use a whiteboard in your video to illustrate a point?
Once you know what you’ll have alongside you in your video, you can choose which type of lighting you want to add to your space to bring out your best features.
Ring lights tend to be a popular choice for people doing Facebook Live sessions because they illuminate the entire room without as much risk of shadow or overexposure or underexposure.
Many ring lights also come with a phone holder in the center. Because it’s very difficult to transmit your live video on Facebook from a desktop computer, this is the preferred approach for many people.
The way you show up on the screen makes a big difference, too.
If you’re holding your phone too far down, people watching will feel like they’re looking up your nose. It’s also an unflattering, unprofessional angle.
If you’re holding your phone up the entire time, your arm will get tired and you’ll likely shake the camera, which makes the video hard to watch.
One of the best ways to steady the camera and get a good angle is to invest in a nice tripod. This lets you adjust the height to your body type and background, so you’re able to stream seamlessly.
There’s also a tool called a pole holder, which looks a lot like a microphone stand for a phone. You can attach this tool to your tripod.
This tool is ideal for when you need to record a live video looking straight down on something, such as a litter box of adoptable cats by the ASPCA or if you’re doing a live cooking show and want to spotlight what’s happening in your mixing bowls and pans.
The last step before you hit record is to check your bandwidth. If you’re offsite recording a video, such as at an event, your cell phone connection might not be as good as it is in your office. Likewise, if you’re logged into a popular WiFi network with a lot of users, your recording might be slower.
Check your bandwidth speeds before you go live to ensure you’re not delivering a clunky-looking video. To do this, I like the tool Speakeasy Speed Test. Bookmark this on your phone, and then check the speeds whenever you’re in a new location. The higher the Mbps (megabits per second), the faster your connection will be.
Facebook Live is a fantastic way to reach new audiences and engage with your existing fan base. With a solid plan in place and the right tools, you’ll deliver professional, high-quality content with the push of a button.