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Social Media Live Streaming: How to Use it For Your Business in 2019

Want to learn more about live streaming on social media? This lengthy guide is designed to arm you with the best tricks of the trade!

By Anastasija Petrevska, Content writer at Ranking Press

Breakdown of the Live Streaming Trend in 2019

All of the social media trends relevant for 2017 are predicted to reach even greater proportions in 2018. We are to be blown away by the marketing possibilities video, live streaming, augmented and virtual reality, and chatbots will bring.” (Amplifr)

Source: Social Media Developments of Last Year in Review

As we found out in our guide on the most noteworthy social media trends of 2017 mentioned above, social media live streaming was one of the most relevant trends in digital marketing in 2018 – and it’s going to establish itself even further in the industry in 2019.

Once merely a trendy phenomenon, live streaming has now become one of the best ways to ensure better reach, drive more audience engagement, and increase brand awareness.

But you’ve probably heard about these three factors in social media marketing so much, they have lost all meaning by now.

If that’s the case we’ll try to convince you.

With social media networks constantly racing each other for the prize of live video traffic, there’s now more live content functionality being rolled out than ever before. And in turn, live content functionality  unlocks completely new ways of generating traffic and revenue.

Don’t let your business be left out.

In 2017 and 2018, video statistics projected that video traffic will amount to more than 82 percent of all consumer Internet traffic by 2021, up from 73 percent in 2016. (Cisco) Companies that incorporated video in the marketing strategies reported 41% more web traffic from search engines than those who didn’t, and at the end of the day, their conversion rates were much higher as well.

As the battle for attention continues to rage in 2019, video will remain deeply embedded in social media usage habits.

It’s simply a highly approachable medium because it manages to convey a lot of information in a visual, highly engaging way, and, well, it’s just faster than reading.

And fast and short is how the audiences of today like their information.

But that goes for any video.

What about live streaming?

What does it exactly require?

Is it actually better than just a nice, edited video, tidily scheduled in your content calendar?

Isn’t it too much work?

We’ll tackle all these questions and more in the following chapters. But let’s first start with the basics.

What is Live Streaming?

Live streaming, or often simply referred to as streaming is the practice of broadcasting media over a digital device in real time. It can be done on a number of digital devices such as phones, tablets, and computers, through a social media network that offers live streaming support or a service specifically designed for streaming.

Live streaming is definitely not something new. It’s been around since the early 90s in one form or another. But what really makes it relevant today has a lot to do with the mobile revolution and the rise of social networks.

Both social media networks and smartphones have thoroughly changed our reality and democratized content creation to such an extent that your average social media and mobile user (and your average, everyday business owner, for that matter) can just as easily take the role of broadcaster and content creator.

Gone are the days when you had to have the equipment and resources, as well as access to traditional media in order to market globally.

Nowadays, you just need your phone.  

The advent of this type of industry has made it imperative for marketers to understand this space and what it can do for their business, or their client’s business, and ultimately, decide if they need to be there.

Live Stream Video Got Social

Since the shift in 2005, when YouTube was born and became one of the fastest growing websites, audiences have been growing more and more fascinated with online video.

This social media shift towards live streaming became apparent as early as 2015, when Twitter acquired Periscope, a live streaming app that was still being developed at the time, for a staggering $100 million. Facebook Live was announced that same year, and soon after rolled out for public use – first exclusively available to celebrities, and after a while, for the general public as well.

But even before all that, in 2014, there were cues that live was slowly but surely becoming a thing – for those observing with a learned eye at least. On occasions such as when Snapchat added live features to its app in 2014, and when Twitch was acquired by Amazon it became apparent that there’s a trend in the making, and that it just might spiral out of control.  

Why Should You Care About Live Streaming and What Can It Do for Your Business?

Live-stream video will ensure that your brand is discovered in search engines and that it sells more across different online mediums. If you think that that’s true for pre-recorded video, and it’s been tried and tested – let’s give you a few things to think about.

Video vs. Live video: a breakdown

Live video differs from video in several very meaningful ways:

  • You don’t have to concern yourself with expensive production and editing.

Video has been around for so long and is becoming so popular that the competition is incredibly high.

Businesses are forced to constantly step up their game in terms of video production and editing in order to stand out, but the immediacy and straightforwardness of live changes all that.

With live streaming, there’s no more stigma that a video has to be well produced and edited in order for it to be seen, shared, or generate revenue.

In fact, in the following chapters, we’ll learn exactly what types of live streaming videos garner the most attention, and they don’t require a lot of resources at all.

  • Live streaming can help you humanize your brand.

Nothing pacifies your consumers more than a good glimpse behind the curtain. When you give your faithful customers an idea of how your company goes about product development and manufacture, it can only serve to convince them that you’re an honest, quality-driven brand.

We’re sure you can recall at least a few occasions when you’ve been captivated by a video, live or not, of a favorite brand giving a behind-the-curtain look, or presenting its team and their office atmosphere. We’re sure you’ve been captivated – and don’t worry, most people are – they love it when the curtain drops and the mystery is finally unraveled – and you can use it to give your business an advantage over its competitors.

Give this idea some thought and think on how you can use live streaming to humanize your brand. A “meet the team” stream where everybody’s friendly and goofy is always fun to watch, and so is a product launch Q&A or a glimpse at products being made, right on the “factory line”.   

  • Live streaming and social media algorithms: why it can get you better reach and expose you to a larger audience.

It’ll do you well to remember that live streaming is a product, and when it comes to social media, it’s one of the newer products that networks are trying to push to market.

Learn more about how to keep up with algorithm changes on social media.

When you think about it that way, it becomes clear that social networks need to promote their products as well – and unlike social media marketers who need to constantly keep up with the game, they have the luxury of changing the game entirely.

In other words, they can change their algorithms to favor new products and promote them that way.

We’ve seen it with Facebook Native video, and we’re seeing it with live streaming again. There are incredible perks to live streaming content on social media because the platforms themselves promote it.

After all, there’s a battle for live streaming going on, and every social media network in the race wants to see their product at the top.

But that’s not all of it.

Live streaming can be a great way to generate new leads, leads that you haven’t managed to snatch for your newsletter, leads who have never before shown any interest in your brand, and all that, simply because of some good word-of-mouth marketing.

At the end of the day, even if social media algorithms weren’t on your side, the news of a live stream can still spread through people’s feeds like wildfire.

You see, the more people interact with your stream, the better the chances that it’ll get pushed to the top of people’s feeds, that more and more of your watchers’ friends will see it, and that they’ll want to be in the moment.

You’ll just have to retain them by making it the best live stream there is, and we’ll show you how in the following sections.  

What Kind of Content Should You Live Stream on Social Media?

If you’ve never created live content before, though, it can seem a little daunting at first. How do you go about broadcasting a live stream, and how do you get results?  

The three most important things to bear in mind when creating a live streaming strategy for social media are the following:

What Type of Niche are You in?

The type of content people would be interested to see largely depends on the type of audience and your product in particular. Consider these examples:

  • A news media site will focus on streaming as a way to report on important events,
  • A brand in makeup or beauty might benefit from it the most if it showcases the products being made or if it does a live unboxing event.
  • An influencer might answer fan-requested Q&A.

What Does Your Audience Expect?

Streaming for streaming’ sake is often not enough.

While it’s important that you jump on this trend as a strategy to give your audience a fresh, relevant way in which it can interact with your brand, it’s important that you actually use it as a method to give them something that they already want.

Your strategy should always spring from below – directly from your consumers.

If you engage with them and pay close attention to what they’re saying about your brand on social media you’ll know exactly what type of content to stream.

So, key takeaway?

Always tune in to your audience’s wants and demands.

What’s Your Live Streaming Platform of Choice?

Choosing the most adequate platform for your particular brand is an important step in any live streaming strategy. It’s something that you need to give serious thought, especially if you have a diversified social media strategy, fleshed out across multiple social media channels.

That leads us to the following point – where to stream?

At the moment, the major social media live streaming plays out at these three major networks:

  • Twitter, through Periscope
  • YouTube Live
  • Facebook Live
  • Bonus: Twitch

In the following sections, we’ll see what sets them apart – and is there one that’s superior?

Which Social Media Platform Should You Use for Live Streaming?

Before we dive into their differences, just remember that the answer to this question largely depends on your brand’s particular situation – the network that hosts your biggest audience will often be the best choice.

Facebook

Facebook Live is growing more popular by the minute with an increasing number of marketers. Why?

First of all, there’s the thing we mentioned before – its algorithm is designed to love your streams and push them to the top of people’s feeds – and that’s not going to change as long as the war for the title of Live Streaming King is raging. Social media networks need their own social media strategies after all, and, as we mentioned, unlike us mere mortals they can use algorithms to promote their new services.

Second, your content is on autoplay. You have a brief window of time when your content starts playing in front of any random user who’s scrolling their homepage, and that’s a window of time to get them hooked.

What can it do for your brand?

  • Facebook remains the platform that is set to dominate everything social – and with so much competition, brands that explore the most novel types of content do best here.
  • Live streaming on Facebook Live is the sure way to more organic reach and engagement.
  • Everybody’s audience is on Facebook.

YouTube

YouTube has made a name for itself through video, and when it comes to live, it’s guilty by association.  It’s the platform users spends most hours on watching video – and watch the longest, so it makes perfect sense to choose it as a streaming platform.

What can it do for your brand?

  • Youtube’s users visit the platform specifically to watch videos, so that means that you might get even more exposure
  • YouTube live streams can be easily repurposed as edited videos on your other social media channels
  • It gives you an archive of your live streams

As opposed to Twitter, for example, famous for being the go-to platform for news in real-time (which every good Twitter marketing strategy should reflect), YouTube is more like an archive, so that means your business is essentially getting 2-for-the-price-of-1: live functionality that appears archived in your playlists like a regular video, and might get even more exposure with time.

  • It has amazing live stream chat functionality that slows down the rate at which comments pop in so that streamers have an easier time answering them

Twitch

Twitch might be the biggest social media network you might never have heard of – and that’s probably because it focuses mainly on one very large and very particular corner of the digital world – gaming.

Despite the fact it’s one of the streaming kings of digital, it’s a fairly niche player.

However, with over 560 billion minutes watched over 2018 and with 4 million Twitch streamers sharing live content as of December 2018, the Amazon-owned platform is an amazing place for live streaming, and it’s slowly expanding to other niches, through collaborations with Netflix, iTunes, Spotify and a number of brands starting to exploit the large and passionate Twitch demographic.

What can it do for your brand?

  • Twitch is a gateway to the millennial male audience – 81.5% of Twitch users are male, and 55% of them are somewhere between 18 and 34 years old (Sept 2017)
  • It’s a largely untapped playground – both in terms of advertising and organic content strategies – so it’s the perfect time to test the waters on this platform

Periscope/Twitter

The Twitter-owned Periscope is another app that allows users to live stream directly from their smartphones, and although it might not quite have the ring to it that Facebook Live does, a lot of marketers use it in the same way you would use the live feature on Facebook.

With its satellite app, Periscope Producer, you can stream to Periscope using external sources, such streaming software, hardware encoders, and professional cameras. It also supports 360 live streams.

What can it do for your brand?

  • If you first made a name for yourself on Twitter and that’s where your core audience is, streaming on Periscope might be the better choice – as the app offers amazing Twitter integration. Don’t stream on Facebook Live just because everybody is, the important question is which platform will give you better engagement?
  • When sharing a Periscope live stream on Twitter, the broadcast auto-plays directly in the tweet.

Social Media Live Streaming Best Practices

What qualities distinguish a mediocre live stream from an excellent one? That’s a question that requires a whole set of sub-questions, as there are a whole ton of factors that you need to weigh in.

What niche are you in?

What’s your buyer/audience persona?

Have they been asking about any particular type of content over and over again?

That put aside, there are some general rules that will ensure a better live streaming experience – both for your audience and in terms of what you want to achieve.

  • Take the time to promote your live stream.

Live streaming is all about spontaneity, but that doesn’t mean that you should leave it market itself. Promoting your live stream ahead of time is important, and there are a number of things you can do on that front:

  • Scheduling your broadcast in advance by using a third party app.
  • When your stream is just starting, some networks like Facebook and Periscope like to notify users that you’re live streaming. That’s awesome, but don’t let it do your entire marketing either.  
  • If you plan on live streaming regularly, set up a live streaming schedule – don’t live stream randomly. Let your audience know exactly when they can expect you, and let it build from that. You can mention your schedule every opportunity you have, and promote it with posts, footage chunks from past broadcasts, scripted videos, photos, and all the different kinds of content you can think of.
  • Once you have a basic understanding of which kind of broadcasting practices work for your brand and which don’t, you can try to go beyond what your main social media networks/live streaming tools offer and explore other tools and apps.
  • Create a call to action.

Creating an engaging stream title that includes a powerful CTA is one of the most important things you need to do with any type of content – and live streaming is no different.

  • Interact with viewers and commenters.

Live streams are excellent when it comes to audience and engagement because they elicit a sense of urgency: reality is rolling out right in front of viewers’ eyes, and the chances that they will interact with your content are much higher when it’s live.

That being said, it’s nothing but good practice to encourage your audience to interact with your live video. Keep them engaged and interested, address their questions, comments, or even themselves directly as you’re streaming – and in turn, that’ll help you get your stream ranking in more and more News Feeds.

One thing to keep in mind: the earliest comments might be farther down in your comment section, as they usually appear in a reverse chronological order.

So, to recap:

  • Answer comments.
  • Engage commenters and call them out by their name.
  • Encourage viewers to like and share your video in a tasteful way.
  • Subtitle the most important information in the comment section so that viewers who weren’t in luck are updated.
  • Keep reintroducing yourself.

Because your content is being shared in real-time, new watchers will be introduced to it gradually, and most of them won’t have started watching it from the beginning – so the chances that they’ll keep watching if they feel a bit lost are slim.

That’s exactly why you need to keep them in the loop by introducing yourself, and restating what you’re doing and what’s the purpose of the stream every now and again.

Take a minute to introduce yourself when you first start out the stream – you’ll probably have only a handful of viewers, and as watchers find your video in their News Feeds and join in, you’ll want to reintroduce yourself a second, third and even a fourth time so that they can catch up – but keep in mind that you want to switch things up a bit in every introduction so that everyone is kept entertained.

  • Make it spontaneous.

Live streaming is all about the moment – it’s interactive, spontaneous and, in a way, a new manifestation of the phenomenon of reality TV.

So embrace it.

It doesn’t matter if its unrehearsed or awkward – the point of live is to give your audience a glimpse of realness, and that can work wonders for your brand. Save the scripted, edited and polished style for your regular videos and remember that banter is always good.

  • Pay attention to optimal live stream length.

What’s too short or too long when it comes to a live video?

Research suggests that on Facebook, anything less than 10 minutes is simply not worth it – your content won’t have a chance to be viewed by a large audience, and you’ll have barely enough time to get your point across in between your reintroductions. The facts are, the longer you go, the more rewards you reap – more likes, shares, and comments start coming in, and the more people discover it.

But optimal live stream length is not universal – it depends upon your platform of choice, and the type of content you’re providing. On Twitch, for example, an hour-long stream might be the norm, and YouTube is also forgiving when it comes to broadcast length – given that the stream is entertaining in the first place.

Pro tip: Research the competitors in your niche streaming on your chosen platform before you conceptualize the live stream.

Types of Live Streaming Content

Hosting a Q&A

It’s 2019 already and by now, brands should understand that they need to listen to their customers – and what better way to do it than with a live Q&A session? It ticks off all the right boxes: it can get you more brand awareness, more exposure, it almost guarantees more engagement, and provides you with the opportunity to give your audience a more in-depth look at your brand.

We see influencers doing this all the time – they’d break up their schedule of pre-recorded videos and other types of content with a live session when they get more close and personal with their fans – answer more personal questions and fan requests and build their relationship with their followers.

And we think there’s no reason it shouldn’t work for brands.

How-to content and tutorials

“How to” live videos are a textbook example of how you can use the good old inbound marketing “trick” of actually providing value to your audience – and letting them come to you themselves. You can do this with pre-recorded video just as well, but live video gives you an advantage – it’s more personal, and your viewers can interact with you, ask you questions and engage on the spot!

Special occasion live streaming (+ product launches)

Live streaming is perfect if you want a breath of fresh air in your content marketing strategy, and a little pizzazz – and that’s why it should be arranged around important events in your calendar – such as important holidays (to your brand and marketing strategy specifically) or product launches. Live has the potential to create an atmosphere of exclusivity and build up anticipation, so it goes very well with new announcements – like the announcement of a new product or a giveaway.

Use live streaming to create a recurring show

This is a content strategy that works amazingly well for brands and influencers on YouTube and Twitch in particular – so well, in fact, that “streamer” has become a profession of its own.

While that might not work as the central theme for most brands, the idea has some merit. Think about how you can include recurring streams as part of your content marketing strategy!

How Brands are Using Social Media Live Streaming in Their Content Strategy

Here’s an example of a brand using YouTube Live as a means to get some special-occasion organic reach, and successfully:

Jamie Oliver is one YouTube and TV star who periodically uses live streaming on his YouTube channel, and with great success. As he’s the host of a cooking show, it makes sense to use live streaming on actual special occasions and holidays – like Valentine’s Day dinners and Christmas Eve Specials. That way, he joins in on the festive atmosphere and uses it as leverage in his marketing.

You know what’s another popular special occasion that simply calls for a live stream? A new product launch! By now, it’s the general standard in the gaming industry, as a way to show off new product features in an engaging and personal way, but it can work just as well for most industries.

How to Go Live on Social Media

So far, we’ve been discussing the brief history of live streaming and tried to explain why it’s so important to make a learned decision of whether to include it in your social media marketing strategy.

Now we’ll delve deeper and explore all the whys and hows of going live on the biggest social media channels.

How to Go Live on YouTube

YouTube currently allows four different ways in which you can use its services to live stream. Not only does the network make it possible for anyone who has a YouTube channel, it gives users several tiers of controlling their settings – which means that YouTube live streaming can be as simple or as advanced as you need it to be.

But one thing’s for sure – there’s no better time to start with YouTube live streaming than now, as the service is available on three YouTube related platforms: YouTube, YouTube Gaming, and the YouTube mobile app.

In order to set up your very first live stream, you have to own a verified YouTube channel (unlike other social media networks, it’s a purely formal procedure, and doesn’t require you to be a made public persona or have a certain number of followers), and if you don’t have any live streaming restrictions imposed on your channel, you can start your live stream as soon as its enabled (which may take up to 24 hours).  

Currently, in order to live stream on YouTube you can pick between the following 4 options:

Stream now

Stream now as a simple way of streaming that requires the use of a third party streaming encoder.

Streaming encoder?

It’s any type of encoding software that lets you capture content, and send it to YouTube Live to be streamed, and it uses your desktop, your camera, your microphone, and headset – or any recording device you might have.

When you stream, YouTube detects your stream resolution and frame rate automatically so that it can transcode it to lower resolutions when you go live. This way, anyone can tune in to your stream, even the fans with a really low-quality Internet connection.

If you really want to delve into this method of streaming, YouTube’s support page has all the information you need – along with a list of the verified encoding devices & software.

Events

If you want to have more control over your stream, and access to more advanced settings, the events feature lets you do it – it gives you access to privacy options, lets you set a start time for your live streaming event or enable a backup stream if you so desire.

It even lets you create more than one live event so you can actually stream simultaneously.

Mobile

Live streaming directly from your mobile device is one of the handiest wonders of the 21st century. It makes streaming incredibly easy and approachable, and it even has that air of spontaneity and exclusiveness that live content should usually strive for. From a behind-the-scenes special to a random rant – going live is now literally a click away.

There are several things you need to know beforehand though:

YouTube live is available from Android 5.0 up, and iOS 8 up, so you need to have a reasonably new or sufficiently updated device.

After you’re done with your stream, it becomes available as a video archive on your channel, with options to edit its privacy settings or delete it.

Webcam

Webcam is an easy way to go live using your computer without the need for live streaming encoding software.

You can learn more about the details for each live streaming method directly on YouTube’s live streaming support page.

YouTube Live Streaming Tips

Unlike on Facebook, as a platform that merges tons of different kinds of content, the audience on YouTube is there for the sole purpose of watching videos, live or recorded. How do you make your stream get noticed when the competition is tough?

  • Keep SEO in mind.

YouTube has its own search engine that works the same way as Google does, the only difference being that it sifts through its own database as opposed to the whole web. That means that SEO is as applicable here as anywhere else. When posting your video, make sure you do your SEO – YouTube – keyword research first and think carefully about your title tag, description, and video tags. In the case of live streaming, you’ll already have an advantage – YouTube ranks streamed videos higher to begin with (in Google search too).

How to Go Live on Facebook

Marketing on Facebook has become a science of its own, and it’s time to factor Facebook Live into the equation.

Facebook rolled out its Live feature to the general public in April 2016, and since, it has taken the world by storm.

Setting up a Facebook live stream is incredibly easy – and you can do it over the phone or via desktop:

  1. Open the Facebook app or website
  2. Open up your status bar (available on your News Feed or your Profile Page), and you can see the “go live” option right above the “what’s on your mind”/”write a post” section.  
  3. Facebook will give you a prompt to allow your device to use your camera and microphone the first you attempt to start a live stream
  4. Set up your privacy – if you’re live streaming as a brand, you’ll probably want to make it public.
  5. Write a description – a compelling live stream starts with a compelling title

Those are the basics of setting up a Facebook live streaming session, and as you can see, it’s nothing but straightforward. While the technical side of starting a live stream is intuitive, if you want it to be successful there are some general tips you’ll want to follow.

Facebook Live Streaming Tips

  • Add more personalization to your live video

It always helps to tag the people or brand features in your live video so you can be exposed to their respective audiences or add a location. If you want even more personalization, you can add text, stickers, filters, lenses – all those are accessible through the magic wand icon, and all of them have the potential to make your live stream a touch more interesting.

One thing to keep in mind though is not to go overboard, as you can easily get carried away. Remember to stay true to your brand’s visual identity when live streaming.

  • Always test out your stream first, by setting the privacy to “only me” before you share it with your watchers.

How to Go Live on Periscope/Twitter

Since Periscope joined Twitter, starting a live stream on the platform has never been easier – and the process is fairly similar to Facebook Live. If you want a step-by-step process along with the answers to the most searched for FAQs, Twitter’s own How To Create Videos With Twitter support page explains it the best, or you can try the alternative route through Periscope.

Twitter Live Streaming Tips

Knowing how to start a live stream and successfully using it as a marketing strategy for your brand are two very different things – and that’s why you need to consider the following:

  • Always prepare your set up before you go live.
  • Check for video and sound quality – always test first.
  • Make sure that the device you’re streaming with isn’t shaky – use a tripod.
  • Make sure your phone is charged if you’re using a mobile device.
  • Use the Periscope Producer if you want to stream with something a bit more professional than your phone or tablet.
  • Always test before you go public – by doing a private broadcast so that you can easily catch your mistakes!

    Social media live streaming takeaways:

    • Live streaming was one of the biggest social media trends in 2018, and its market share is projected to be on the rise well into the 2020s.
    • Live streaming is one of the most effective ways to increase organic reach, drive social media audience engagement, and increase brand recognition.
    • Live streaming is now easier and more approachable than ever – at its simplest, it doesn’t require any special equipment beyond a mobile device.

Over and out!

We hope that we’ve given you plenty of info and helped you decide whether you want to jump into the live streaming craze.

Have you tried your hand at live streaming yourself? What social media network did you choose? Share your experience and results!

If you’re interested in any other topic that falls under the umbrella of SMM, check out the other handy resources that we have on our blog.

If you have any questions or feedback you can reach us on Twitter and Facebook!

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