The following Guide was written for an agency based out of Boulder, CO and was only downloadable by email newsletter subscribers.
This guide is for you if…
You’re unsure of where to start with livestream video
Your brand’s livestream videos have not been produced as well as you hoped
You are looking for a knowledgeable partner to help you produce live video
You aren’t sure what type of content to have in your videos
You’re unsure of what platforms to livestream on
What’s your story?
Finding stories to tell isn’t usually a struggle for most brands. However, telling it in a captivating medium to make them stick out among other stories can be more challenging. This is where livestream comes in. When you have a stand-out story focused on your brand, product, or relevant subject, live streaming works as an incredible tool to make your story stick.
Focus on the following 3 Keys:
1) Interest: This seems pretty obvious… what you choose to livestream really needs to captivate your audience. If it’s captivating, more people will watch and share your stream.
2) Action: Keep everything moving. If you have a dull moment on screen, you will lose viewers.
3) Consistency: Consider creating livestreams that can be strung together, or even a recurring series. Maybe you always livestream your brand’s holiday concerts, have a weekly show with one of your brand ambassadors, or do a monthly behind the scenes check-in on a long anticipated product. This hooks your audience for episodes to come.
Content: What to Livestream
What special stories do you have to tell? The more you understand your target audience, the better - but also simply consider yourself as the potential consumer/viewer: what would you want to see from a brand you follow? Here are a few potential content topics to get you started…
Highlighting the most exciting elements of your products is great, but consider how you might go beyond this. What makes your product the greatest thing since sliced bread is actually less about the features, and more about the problem it solves. The classic example is being more interested in the hole you need in your wall vs. the drill you need to buy to put it there. Focus first on the job to be done, making features and benefits of the product secondary. Also keep in mind viewers love giveaways. Consider asking them to enter to win, and create a way to allow them to engage with this release. Discuss the logistics of when, where and how they can buy it.
Special Guests/ Brand Ambassadors/ Influencers
Who do you work with that is incredibly captivating? Have them as a special guest on the livestream and share their story. Relate it to your brand, whether it’s to one of your products, or even just about a particular lifestyle that aligns with your brand.
If it’s a well-known figure, show off how your brand is associated. Don’t have them covertly sell your product for an hour… people will see right through that. Instead, make the experience interesting, related to them outside of your product/brand. When you are able to layer in your brand/product, that is icing on the cake, but don’t force it.
Did you just buy Google? Awesome! Tell us all about it! OK….maybe it’s not that big of an announcement, but if it’s unique and important to your brand, and your customers may be interested. See if you can build a story that more interestingly tells them about it.
This may seem basic, but question and answer sessions are one of the easiest and most engaging livestreams you can do. Customers/fans love coming up with questions on your products or for your special guests. It engages the viewer and makes them part of the conversation.
Start with 1-3 specific topics, and let it evolve organically from there. When you have a special guest, people will love being able to ask them a direct question…such as, “Lady Gaga, how long until your infamous meat dress started to smell?”
Behind the Scenes
What’s in your special sauce? What’s the secret ingredient? Take us behind the scenes at your company to show the audience something they would find interesting. Maybe this is the creation of a product, or a day inside your company. People love inside access. It’s like a VIP pass to a brand/company they really care about.
Keep it from being a one-sided episode of “MTV Cribs” where you see all the cool things but can’t ask questions. Make it a chance for people to ask, “is that where the ‘magic’ REALLY happens?” - or other relevant questions they may be very eager to ask.
Show your audience how to make something or do something involving your product or even focusing completely on your product. This engages people who want to learn more about a subject your brand specializes in, and allows them to ask questions.
Now that you’re running out the door to go livestream, it’s time for a logistical reality check. There are multiple things to consider to pull off a seamless livestream production:
1) WiFi Speed/Connection
Without a strong WiFi signal or plugin to internet, your livestream does not exist. Ideally, you can plug in directly. If this isn’t possible, prioritize a strong, consistent, tested WiFi signal. We recommend no less than 2 MB upload speed, but prefer much higher. Consider procuring your own dedicated line for WiFi. This way, you can control how many users are on your wifi and eliminate some unknowns…. like Bob in accounting downloading the entire Game of Thrones series during go-time.
Regardless on your Livestream length, try to have your equipment plugged in. If your screen goes black as soon as you’re revealing the product your customers have been waiting months to see…. you’re in serious trouble. Have power close by and easily accessible.
Is your event going to be outside? Is there strong, consistent internet signal out there? How close can you get a WiFi router plugged into a hardline? What about bad weather? Outside often proves visually appealing, but often a less controlled environment. Weigh these pros and cons before taking your stream to the field.
4) Prep Special Guests
Don’t overlook this step—this is huge! Call your guests at least a week in advance (No, don’t just email). Brief them on basic logistics: where, when and who they will be on with, and what to expect. Explain what the livestream will be about including theme, questions, and topics of theirs you’re going to include. Be sure to ask if there’s anything else you can include for them, such as a video clip, logo, or anecdote they would like added. If you will be streaming remotely, test the connection with them (privately, of course), ahead of time. The day before, follow up and double check they aren’t incredibly sick or have an emergency, and confirm timing.
5) Be Ready Early
Have everything set up and ready to go at least 30 minutes before starting. If challenges arise, you still have time to trouble-shoot them before you’re supposed to be on. You don’t want to have viewers around the world waiting on you because of a technical malfunction.
Check your audio and visual components. Be sure to have a stable camera (tripod!), that the audio is perfect, and your equipment (tables, chairs, etc.) is set up in a manner that looks great on camera.
7) Have a plan B
Things don’t always go perfectly… have a backup plan, and know when and how you’re going to execute it. Have a plan B for inclement weather, time to go live, special guests, etc. Do your best to expect the unexpected!
Plan… Then Be OK Throwing Your Plan Out the Window
Livestreams have the potential to be a big benefit to your business. It’s a strong, powerful moment to represent your event, and more importantly, your brand, on a massive scale. The appeal of livestreams stems from the spontaneity and fluidity relevant to live events.
However, the fact that it’s live means you’ll want to control as many aspects of your event as possible. Otherwise, content has the potential to backfire on your brand, misrepresenting you as underprepared, or highlighting you, your product, or guest in a not- so-flattering light.
When live, many aspects of your event cannot be controlled. That’s the beauty of livestream and why audiences love it. Once you have as much planned as possible, assume a natural level of improv and spontaneity your audience desires, will arise.
Approach your livestream as a regular video production. Take time to plan the best location, the exact timing, (consider set-up and break down), on-screen talent, subjects involved, props needed, and graphics included. Totally envision how the viewer will see the end product, and what that ideally looks like for them.
Consider everything you will need, using proper equipment for the event. According to Livestream.com, 62% of consumers are more likely to have a negative perception of your brand if you have a low-quality video experience.
Prep everyone involved in making success happen. This means asurring anyone who will be on the livestream or helping direct the event knows exactly what you’ll be covering, timing of events, questions that will be asked, when to cue lights, etc.
Because it’s live, things happen. It may not run exactly how you planned it, but that’s okay. There are always fluid and changing aspects. Your job is to be ready for the curveballs. Go with the flow, stay calm, be resourceful - and if it’s helpful, remind yourself that you are the expert.
Creating Effective Livestreams
If you and your guests aren’t having fun, it’s doubtful your audience will. The ‘live’ aspect can be intimidating…take a deep breath, relax, and know that you’ve planned as much as possible. Be fully present, so your audience will be more engaged and likely to share in the experience.
Provide Value to your Featured Guests
Include a guest’s recent success, one of their passions, or a project they’re working on. Highlight the value of your guests so they feel this event is worthwhile and your audience becomes more engaged. If possible, share this livestream to their channels, so their respective audiences tune in.
Call to Action
Livestreams are the perfect opportunity to get your viewers to do something to help your brand. Whether that’s sharing a link, downloading something, or signing up for your email list, this is your chance to get them to commit to you. This is an opportunity to gain trust. Leverage it to engage devoted followers in the future.
Channel: Where Online to Host your Livestream?
The short answer: consider everywhere! The longer answer is to consider where your customers and audience frequent online the most. Where do you get the highest engagement? If you have 2 million YouTube followers but only 200 on Facebook…. Facebook Live may not the place for you.
With 1.37 billion daily Facebook users…this is not a platform to ignore. Facebook gives preference to live video in their algorithm, meaning more people will see your livestream. There are easy, accessible tools to promote your event and send reminders to users and followers. Also, your video remains on Facebook after your livestream, and is accessible on-demand, providing ongoing value. They also have an app (Facebook Live Video), making it even easier to access.
When most people think video, they think YouTube. Being the the second largest search engine in the world (right behind their parent, Google), YouTube allows great targeting for your live event. It’s also a great place for your video to live on after the livestream has ended.
With over 800 million users (up from 600 million in 2016), Instagram serves as a great platform for people’s interaction with your video content (WordStream). One drawback is your live video only remains on Instagram for 24 hours, and after, you’re unable to share to other platforms.
This is the livestream platform of Twitter, which integrates seamlessly into your Twitter posts, alerting followers you’re live. With a monthly average of 330 million active users, Twitter/Periscope is a great platform to consider (OmniCore). Once done broadcasting, save the video for replay, so users can access it later. You can also download directly to your device to share on other platforms.
Vimeo, the premium video platform, is now offering Vimeo Live. This is the love child of their recent purchase of Livestream.com, and incorporates seamlessly into their platform. Your video can continue to live here afterwards. With features such as live chat, in-depth analytics, and on-demand support, this is a great, HD option for live streaming.
Do you want to have the steak AND crab legs? Then this platform is for you. With Livestream, you don’t have to compromise on one benefit for another. It has the benefits of simulcasting to multiple platforms all at once (Facebook, Periscope, YouTube, Twitch, and your own webpage). Afterwards, compare platform analytics. It’s easy to incorporate graphics and pre-recorded video into your livestream. With this feature you can show the trailer for your new film or the product development footage from last month. Brand your stream with your own logo, ensuring your brand is well-represented and noticed throughout the stream. If charging for content is important, Livestream helps you put your video behind a paywall.
Promoting: Before and After
Now that you know more about the amount of preparation that goes into a livestream, promote the hell out of it! Reach out to people. Let them know you’re having an amazing, rare, live event, that you have a badass guest, excited to answer their questions - or whatever it is that makes your livestream truly unique. Highlight the value you’re providing, explain your intent, and touch on this throughout the event.
Make it easy for them to remember; have online attendees RSVP on a Facebook event, or sign up for email event reminders. Getting your potential audience to commit will increase your numbers. You already know there are countless distractions online and in the real world, so a single post on social might slip by them or their feed. It’s OK to tell and invite people more than once.
Start promoting your event well in advance, and slowly give out more info, building suspense and interest in your event. Music festivals are great examples…they release dates first, then have consecutive line-up releases, unveiling more and more artists as the festival date approaches.
Remind those people who signed up, or may be interested, when the livestream is about to go live. Send another email, or message through social, with your link just a few minutes before going live. Determine how you’ll effectively track engagement on those links, so you can learn and improve promotional efforts as you proceed.
Share it After
For as much as you’ll want to promote viewing of a live event, keep in mind most viewers of streamed content actually watch post-event. Of course, the goal is to get people tuned in live. However, it’s not always the case when broadcasting around the world. Inform people on how and where to watch after the stream, then post the link when you share the livestream after. Again, share on your social media, on your guest’s, in emails, and on your website.
From one Livestream to the Next
After your livestream ends, a lot of the work starts. If you haven’t developed a content calendar specific to your streaming efforts, it’s time to start thinking about your next event. If the prior one went well, it’s the perfect time to promote your next live event, and really hook your audience further.
It’s also a very important time to reflect on what went really well, and what needed improvement. The mistakes help us grow the most. Unforeseeable obstacles will always present themselves, but next time, you’ll be able to better anticipate. Don’t let fear stand in your way. Try out live streaming, breathe life into your videos, and open up an engaging channel of communication between your brand and your customers.
Need help defining your livestream video strategy or producing your next livestream event? Contact Room 214 at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn how we can help your livestream shine.