How to live stream: all you need to know

You’ve probably heard of live streaming before, but did you know just how beneficial it is for your business? A whopping 80% of consumers prefer to watch live videos from a brand than read a blog. Users also watch live video 10 to 20 times longer than on-demand content, making live streaming a powerful way to deliver interactive content.

By 2021, live streaming is estimated to be a 70.5 billion dollar industry, so if you haven’t already started implementing live streaming in your business’ marketing strategy, now is the time to do so. If the thought of streaming real-time content to your audience fills you with fear, however, you’re not alone. Many business owners don’t understand what live streaming is, how it works, or how it can be used to boost sales by creating highly engaging, interactive content that builds trust and establishes credibility.

Thankfully, help is at hand! We’ve developed this highly practical beginner’s guide to teach you all there is to know about how to live stream an event for business, what are the benefits of live streaming for your brand including the best tips and recommendations to get started with the right foot.

Follow these 14 steps to live stream an event:

Step 1. Understand what exactly is live streaming

Live streaming is when a real-time, unedited video is broadcast to an audience via the internet.

Live streaming on social media has become a very popular medium in recent years among businesses allowing them to directly engage with their fans and followers in real-time.

Live streaming is made possible through the use of:

  • An internet-enabled device with video and audio sources, such as a smartphone, tablet, or webcam-fitted computer
  • A platform to broadcast on, such as Instagram Stories, Facebook Live, YouTube, or Vimeo, just to name a few

When should your business live stream video?

There are plenty of scenarios in which live streaming can prove effective for your business. We’ve outlined some of the most popular ones below. 

#1. Product launches

Statistics show that 68% of people prefer learning about new products from short videos, so what better way to build momentum and increase real-time engagement than with a live-streamed product launch?

Demonstrating the new product via live stream allows your target audience to gain a quick visual understanding of the product’s exciting features, as well as how to use them, all in real-time.

With the added bonus of live engagement and interaction, viewers can also have their queries or comments about the new product addressed throughout the live stream, which helps to boost the perceived trust and professionalism of the brand.

68% of people prefer learning about new products from short videos.

#2. Event launches

Live streaming is also an effective marketing strategy in event promotion, as it gives your business a chance to answer any questions your audience might have about the event whilst broadcasting to them live.

You can use your live stream to offer a preview of what attendees can expect from the event, as well as discuss the event’s line-up or schedule, and tell your viewers what they will gain from attending the event. Will it be for entertainment or educational purposes? What will their major “takeaway” be?

Offering early-bird tickets or reduced pricing to viewers who watch your live stream is also a great marketing tactic to boost attendance.

#3. Conference presentations

Conferences can provide invaluable information to your target audience, but due to constraints such as venue size, travel, or busy schedules, not everyone will be able to attend. 

Live streaming your business’ conference allows a larger percentage of your target audience to tune-in live from anywhere where they have simple access to a device, such as their smartphone.

#4. Internal communications

Live streaming also highly effective for communicating internally within your business, such as when making company announcements to staff. 

Sure, you can send out a mass email to all of your employees detailing the information, but live streaming allows for better engagement and interaction, as they will value the more candid way of reaching out, as well as the fact that they can ask questions or make suggestions in real-time.  

#5. Town hall meetings

Originally, town hall meetings were held as a way for politicians to meet with their constituents within the same arena, with the aim of discussing upcoming legislation or regulation, as well as topics of local interest.

These days, the term “town hall meeting” has expanded to also describe an organization-wide business meeting where employees have an opportunity to ask questions and engage with business executives.

No matter what type of town hall meeting you’re holding, live streaming is extremely beneficial, as it allows your intended audience to tune-in without even having to leave their home or desk. This allows for a much larger audience, resulting in greater participation and interaction on important issues.

#6. Community events

If there’s one way to encourage your local community to attend an event happening that moment, such as a day-long festival, carnival, market, or more, it’s to live stream from the location and show them exactly what they’re missing out on. Alternatively, you might like to live stream a community event to allow those who couldn’t attend, due to accessibility concerns or other commitments, a slice of the action.

#7. Podcasting

Live streaming allows your audience to tune-in as the podcast is being recorded and streamed, giving them an uncensored and unedited look into you or your brand. 

This helps to boost authority, trust, and connection among your audience. Additionally, if you engage with your audience’s questions or comments during the broadcast, it can give you additional content to cover within your podcast episode.

Step 2. Four reasons why live streaming is so important

We’ve covered when to use live streaming for your business, but now it’s time to address the why. Live streaming offers a long list of marketing benefits for your company, including:

#1. Builds trust

If there’s one thing that boosts a brand’s trust, it’s transparency. Live streaming allows you to be both open and candid with your business, particularly when showing behind-the-scenes looks at your processes, encouraging real-time customer feedback and suggestions, or even addressing a controversy.

This is due to the unfiltered and unedited content that live streaming produces, which audiences appreciate, as it signifies that the business is authentic and has nothing to hide.

#2. Cost effective/efficient

Now, if a business wants to connect with their audience by broadcasting in real-time, they can do it with nothing more than a smartphone in-hand. In fact, popular live-streaming platforms, such as Instagram and Facebook, even allow users to do so for free.

Live streaming is an accessible marketing strategy for any business—big or small. Businesses can choose to invest as much or as little as they can afford in their live streaming activities, making it both a cost-efficient and cost-effective marketing method.

“85% of businesses use video as a marketing tool”

#3. Fun and entertaining

What could be more entertaining than a live audience watching events or scenarios pan-out in real-time in front of their very own eyes? This is why sporting events and live concerts are so popular: there’s always that element of not knowing what might happen next.

There’s something about being “in the moment” that really allows humans to connect with each other, giving them a sense of camaraderie. This also heightens both the entertainment and fun factor of what they’re witnessing.

#4. Timeliness

Live streaming is just that – live – so it’s a method of connecting with your audience and marketing your products or services that offers immediacy and timeliness like no other.

This is why millions of people tune in to live news broadcasts on a regular basis, as they want to gain information on an event unfolding at that very moment to ensure they are in the know.

Step 3. Plan your video with participation in mind

When planning your live stream, think about the ways your audience can also play a role within the broadcast. If your audience can see that their interactions, such as asking questions, making suggestions, or voting in polls, have a direct impact on the live stream, then they’re likely to be very engaged throughout the entirety of your broadcast.

Think about running a live stream that aims to answer all of the questions your audience has and acknowledges helpful comments. You could also run a live stream that acts as a live poll, where your audience can provide feedback in real-time as you discuss a particular topic.

Step 4. Make sure there’s a takeaway

If you want your audience to tune-in for its entirety, you’ll need to offer them something worthwhile in exchange for their time. This might take the form of in-depth, actionable advice, or even something fun like a discount code or free trial not offered anywhere else.

The best way to plan your live stream’s takeaway is to think about your target audience, therefore ask yourself those three questions:

  1. What are their biggest frustrations?
  2. How can you help them overcome these?
  3. What advantage can you provide them with immediately?

Step 5. Set your goals

Now it’s time to turn our attention to your goals, or what you want to achieve.

Despite the ability to live stream from anywhere at any time, it’s vital you still have a purpose in place for going live. Your purpose will give you a benchmark for measuring your live stream’s success, as well as a reason to replicate its success if everything goes well.

To help you understand what you might want to achieve from your business’ live stream, ask yourself:

  • What is the takeaway or goal in presenting this content live?
  • In what areas do we want our live stream to help or boost our business?
  • What are the benefits to this live stream, including for our audience and for our brand?
  • Are we aiming to educate, entertain, or inspire, and why? Exactly how will our live stream do this?

Some of the popular reasons why businesses live stream with their audience include:

  • Growing their social media following
  • Generating leads
  • Increasing sales
  • Boosting engagement rates, such as likes, comments, shares, etc.
  • Increasing email list subscribers
  • Attracting more traffic to their website

Step 6. Define your target audience

Your business’ target audience is incredibly important, as they’re the group of consumers to who your products or services are catered.

When live streaming for your business, these are the exact same group of people you are trying to engage, interact, and connect with, so it’s vital you understand all there is to know about them.

The best way to do this is by brainstorming your target audience’s persona and demographics. Sound tricky? Don’t worry, we’ve broken down each of these for you below.

#1. Your audience persona

  • What words would you use to sum up their personality?
  • What are their values? What is most important to them in life?
  • What are their interests or hobbies?
  • How would you describe their lifestyle?
  • Do they have particular behavioral patterns?

#2. Your audience demographics

  • How old are they?
  • Where do they live? What is their specific location?
  • What gender are they?
  • What do they do for a career? What position do they hold at their workplace?
  • What is their income level?
  • What is their education level?
  • Are they married or single? Do they have children or grandchildren?
  • What is their ethnic background?

When it comes to your live stream content, be sure to also ask yourself:

  • What specific content does the audience want from a live stream?
  • Does the live stream topic provide a clear answer to a predominant need, want, or pain point with this group of consumers?
Takeaway: It’s vital that your live stream has an obvious and valuable takeaway for your audience. Not only does this keep them engaged throughout, but it also boosts your business’ authority and presents your products or services as the genuine solution they need, therefore helping to increase sales.

Step 7. Build a strategy

Remember how we mentioned earlier that it’s best practice to prepare as much as possible prior to going live?

Build a successful strategy for your business’ next live stream by asking these four questions:

#1. How will you keep your audience engaged?

We’ve spoken about audience engagement a lot throughout this guide, but high engagement rates are necessary for a successful live stream.

Popular ways to achieve this include:

  1. Answering audience questions throughout the broadcast
  2. Polling your audience and sharing the data live
  3. Participating in discussions occurring within the chat section of the live stream by offering your own opinions or knowledge
  4. Offering related resources to download during the live stream

#2. How will you repurpose the content of your live stream?

Your business’ live stream should contain valuable and actionable information for your audience, but wouldn’t it be a waste for that to simply disappear once the live stream is over? You’ve put so much effort into your broadcast, so ensure the live stream is recorded so it can be saved, accessed, and repurposed well after it appears live.

Effective ways to repurpose your business’ live stream include:

  1. Reposting it on YouTube. You can also edit your live stream video if you want to shorten it, add additional content to it, or give it a more professional appearance
  2. Transcribing it to turn it into a blog post or eBook
  3. Extracting the audio to turn it into a podcast episode
  4. Using it as part of an online course
  5. Sharing short snippets from the video on social media, such as to offer advice about the topic in smaller portions over a longer period of time

#3. How will you capture leads from your live stream?

Don’t let a highly engaged audience go to waste. Determine how you will capture leads from your live stream and incorporate this into your broadcast.

There are a few ways you can do this successfully, including:

  1. Pre-roll: the viewer must enter their contact details (such as an email address) to be able to view your live stream
  2. Teaser: A short clip of the live stream is played, but the viewer must provide their details to continue watching
  3. Post-roll: Once the live stream has finished, viewers are prompted with a call-to-action to enter their contact details
  4. Parallel: A lead capture form is shown alongside the live stream
  5. Re-direct: Once the live stream has come to an end, the viewer is automatically redirected to a different part of the web page or a new one entirely

#4. How should you measure a live stream’s success?

Earlier in this guide, we discussed the importance of setting a goal for your business’ live stream so that you have a benchmark or specific way to measure its success.

When measuring your live stream’s success, you’ll want to focus on the KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) that are most relevant to what your business wants to achieve. These may include:

  1. Attendance numbers
  2. Registration numbers
  3. Leads captured
  4. Attendance to registration ratios
  5. Engagement levels – where did viewers begin to drop off?
  6. Number of comments, likes, or shares
  7. Increase in website traffic
  8. Increase in social media follows
  9. Increase in sales

Step 8. Choose a format

Of course, your strategy for a successful live stream isn’t complete without knowing and understanding the various formats your broadcast can take.

Here are the five most popular live stream formats for you to consider:

#1. Question-and-answer sessions

A live broadcast of a Q&A session allows for live audience participation, with their questions from the message or comments tab of the live stream being answered in real-time.

You simply let the audience ask your business about their concerns or areas of interest, which is an excellent way to increase retention and engagement because you’re showing consumers that you care about their thoughts and opinions.

Being able to answer questions “off-the-cuff” regarding your business processes, industry, or products and services also increases brand trust and loyalty, as your audience will consider you a trustworthy authority on these subjects.

#2. How-to instructional videos

When you combine live streaming with how-to instructional videos, you become your target audience’s go-to reference for the topic you specialize in.

Along with focusing your how-to on a topic related to your business, you should also brainstorm ways you can use this content to authentically show your audience how your products or services can help them achieve their desired outcome.

#3. Interviews

You can also use your live stream to interview people relevant to your business, whether it’s yourself, an employee, customer, or industry expert.

Not only do interviews offer personal ideas and opinions which are of interest to your target audience, but they also show the human side of your company, particularly when you or your employees are depicted on-screen.

#4. Behind-the-scenes peeks

Humans are a curious bunch, which is why live streaming to offer a behind-the-scenes peek into the daily operations of your business is a brilliant idea.

Firstly, this unedited and live view of your business strengthens trust amongst your audience and helps to establish your brand as transparent and authentic. Perhaps you can offer a glimpse into your workplace or take the audience behind-the-scenes of the production process to show them how, where, and by whom your products are made.

#5. Product or service reveals

If you’re announcing a new product or service, why not make that announcement via live stream? Your audience will love the real-time excitement of the news, as well as the feeling that they are some of the first to hear about your latest product or service offering.

You can even combine your product or service reveal live stream with another format of live streams, such as an audience question-and-answer session or interview with an employee who was worked on the new product or service.

Step 9. Get your livestream ready

When it comes to your live stream, preparation is everything. Once you begin streaming, your content is already out there in the world being consumed, so you don’t want to make any mistakes that may have a negative impact on how consumers view your brand.

Be sure to tick the following off your to-do list before you start your live stream:

To livestream, you’ll need:

#1. An internet-ready camera, such as:

  • Your smartphone
  • Your computer’s built-in webcam
  • An external webcam

#2. A tripod or stabilizer, such as a:

  • a large tripod designed for keeping cameras steady
  • a small tripod that you can easily hold or set-up on your desk
  • a stabilizing phone handle so your phone remains steady while moving

#3. Open Broadcaster Software (OBS), which allows you to be live on Facebook and Instagram at the same time. This free, open-source software is used by many live streamers and is also compatible with platforms such as Twitch and YouTube.

#4. A stable internet connection or mobile data

#5. A portable power bank if live streaming off-site (i.e. at an event) for a long period of time

Step 10. Practice and test the equipment

There’s nothing more frustrating or embarrassing than broadcasting live to hundreds or thousands of people, only to realize your video or sound wasn’t working the entire time.

Trust us, technical glitches like this will have your audience tuning out faster than anything.

The way to avoid any mishaps is by practicing with and testing your equipment before you do your live stream.

Be sure to double-check:

  1. Your internet connection stability and speed.
  2. The battery level on the device you’ll be using to live stream, such as your phone, iPad, or laptop. This should be fully or almost fully charged.
  3. The platform you’ll be live streaming to. Have the app or website open and ensure there isn’t any glitching.
  4. The stability of your tripod or stabilizer. Make sure it’s set up correctly.
  5. The audio and video recording functions of the device you’ll be using. Is the sound working correctly? Is the image clear and well-lit?

Step 11. Have a clear call to action

Before you end your live stream, be sure to have an appropriate call to action planned for your audience, whether that’s:

  • Visiting your website
  • Signing up for your email list
  • Following you on social media
  • Visiting a specific web page, such as your products or services pages
  • Signing up to attend a free event, webinar, workshop, or online course

This is a vital part of your pre-live stream preparation, as you should consider every viewer that tunes in to be a potential lead for your business.

87% of video marketers describe LinkedIn has been an effective channel to promote a business

Step 12. Choose a live streaming platform 

There are plenty of platforms to choose from when live streaming for your business. We’ve rounded up the 5 most popular live-streaming platforms below, including their key features, pros, and cons.

YouTube Live

Key features:

  • The “Stream now” option allows you to use your webcam or another connected camera
  • The “Events” option allows you to use higher-quality cameras connected to encoders
  • With the “Events” feature, users can also pre-schedule a live event, invite people in advance, set up backup streams, and more
Pros
  • YouTube videos show up in Google’s search results giving your video an extra entry-point
Cons
  • YouTube videos are embedded with advertisements, all of which you have no control over

Instagram Live Video

Key features:

  • The interface shows the number of viewers viewing the video and any comments that have been made during the live stream. The audience can also share their love by pressing the heart button on the viewer screen
  • Other accounts can be invited to appear in your live stream simultaneously
  • You can apply a filter to your video

Pros – Simple process for launching your live stream, and once the live video ends you can then download the recording and post the broadcast on another video sharing platform, such as YouTube

Cons – Your live stream has a relatively short lifespan on this platform, and push notifications are sent to followers stating that you have gone “live,” but not all of your followers will receive this, as Instagram determines this using their algorithm

Facebook Live

Key features:

  • Live stream from both desktop and mobile devices
  • With the Facebook Live API, you can stream from high-quality compatible cameras

Pros – Very simple to use from both desktop and mobile applications. You can go live within seconds and the ability to select a target audience before going live

Cons – The search interface for Facebook is less user-friendly when compared to platforms such as YouTube. While a live video will appear in a user’s home feed, it is very difficult to find and watch the video once it is no longer live

Vimeo Live

Key features:

  • 4K Ultra HD streaming and video
  • Password protection for privacy
  • Simultaneous live streaming to Vimeo and Facebook, YouTube, or other RTMP destinations

Pros – Vimeo doesn’t run advertisements on your videos, plus it offers embedded calls-to-action with clickable buttons as well as customizable embedded players to maintain the look of your branding.

Cons – Free accounts are not permitted for businesses and the editing features are very basic

Periscope

Key features:

  • As with Instagram, once you go live on Periscope, the app will send a notification to your followers to alert them. Users can also comment and send hearts in real-time
  • Integration with Twitter, as the company owns Periscope

Pros – No limit on the length of your live stream and viewers can invite others to watch your live stream

Cons – Can only live stream through a mobile device, plus everything that you post on Periscope is automatically public as the default. Privacy settings must be changed for each individual video

Step 13. Decide if you will be the host or not

The next big question to ask yourself in the lead-up to your business’ live stream is: will you be hosting your live stream or would you prefer to hire an expert to run the live stream for you?

There is no correct or incorrect answer here. Just do what feels rights for you and your business.

If you wish to host, decide:

  • Do you have all the expertise of providing answers and insights to audience questions?
  • Do you feel comfortable to go off script and take the conversation where customers want?

If you don’t feel confident about either of these points, there is a simple solution: hire a subject matter expert. We delve into this more below.

If you choose to hire a subject matter expert, ask them the following questions first to determine if they’re a good fit:

  • Can you stream to the platform we want to use? For example, Facebook Live, YouTube, or even a custom RTMP server
  • Do you provide technical set-up and support?
  • Will you run the live stream for us during the event?
  • Do you need an internet connection, or can you stream via 4G? (This is really important if your event is being held somewhere without Wi-Fi.)
  • Do you use broadcast quality cameras?
  • How many cameras can you set up and stream from at our event?
  • Can you overlay title graphics and PowerPoint presentations onto the live stream?
  • Do you keep a high-quality (1020p) recording of the live stream that we can use later?
  • Can you edit our live stream into a highlights reel?

Step 14. What to do after the broadcast

Once your live stream is over, you’ll want to keep up the momentum by getting as many additional eyes as possible on your recording. to do so here below you will find some strategies to promote and cross-promote your video once the broadcast is over.

#1. Leverage the power of email marketing

Send an email campaign immediately after your live stream to thank those who tuned-in and ask for feedback. If you have a playback link for the live stream, be sure to include it for those who couldn’t tune-in live and invite them to share the link with their families and friends.

#2. Promote on social media

Post across all of your social channels to thank those who tuned-in to the live stream and encourage feedback. Share the link to your recorded live stream afterward to allow others to watch it and don’t forget to place the link in your profile information as well.

#3. Cross-promote with partners

If a guest will be joining you on your live stream or hosting the live stream, ensure they promote its details across their social media and email list in the lead-up, as well as provide a link to the recording once the live stream is over.

#4. Create sharing incentives

Create an incentive for your followers to share your live streaming announcement. Ideas include:

  • Running a giveaway or competition where in order to enter, a person must share a specific image or post relating to your upcoming live stream.
  • Offering a reward for everyone who shares your live stream announcement, such as exclusive content, a discount code, or early access to a program or event.

#5. Keep up with the latest live streaming trends

Knowing what’s new helps you stay ahead of the competition, here are some live streaming trends for 2020

  1. Recurring live streams based around a single topic or related topics that are broadcast each week at a set day and time. Think of this as a recurring live “show” for your business that has your audience tuning-in regularly.
  2. Live streaming customer testimonials. What better way to advertise your products or services than by interviewing customers who are already using and loving them? Brands are increasingly inviting customers to appear in their live streams for this reason.
  3. The use of Interactive stickers on Instagram prior to live streaming. Engage your viewers even more by posting Stories featuring interactive polls or question stickers to generate content for your upcoming live stream.

Conclusion

Users watch live video 10 to 20 times longer than on-demand content, so when it comes to building your brand and engaging with your target audience, you just can’t look past the power of live streaming.

Sadly, many business owners aren’t taking advantage of this marketing strategy, often because they don’t know where to start. As you’ve learned in this step-by-step guide, however, live streaming doesn’t have to be complicated, especially when you can hire the help of a live streaming expert to do the heavy lifting for you.

Now that you’ve delved into how, when, and why you should use live streaming, as well as other important elements such as building a live video strategy for your business and learning how to successfully promote your live stream, there’s nothing holding you back. You’ll be conquering the live streaming world in no time!

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