How to Nail Live-streaming: 6 Tips and 3 Great Brand Examples

There’s no doubt that live-streaming is #trending. And skyrocketing interest in live-streaming isn’t hard to believe when you consider that the use of live video is growing faster than pre-recorded video, at a rate of 42 percent vs. 34 percent, with the average viewing time of 20 minutes live vs. just two to three minutes of pre-recorded content.

As a marketer, you might be thinking, “that’s great, but so many things can go wrong!” Well, sure—but no more than any other live event. Let’s take a look at some of today’s live-streaming options, and some takeaways to help your brand make the most of live video.

Live-streaming platforms 101

Most of us have heard of Meerkat and Periscope, but what about Twitch and Blab, or Facebook and YouTube’s newest offerings?

Facebook Live streams are getting an average of 3x the viewership of any other content on Facebook. Given that the algorithm now rewards live video content by pushing it to the top of the feed and pushing automatic notifications to page fans, it’s no wonder that it’s now the preferred live-streaming channel for news outlets like Mashable.

YouTube Live is great for users that already have an established YouTube channel. Events can be made private for testing purposes and public-facing events can be scheduled in advance; in addition, broadcast can be saved as YouTube videos post-recording. YouTube is also testing a beta version of Stream Now, through YouTube Live directly rather than through Google Hangouts.

Periscope replaced Meerkat as the darling of the live-streaming world, launching around the same time and building ever since, thanks to a Twitter acquisition. When a user goes live on Periscope, their fans immediately get a push notification and can engage with the user through live chat; Periscopes can also be viewed directly through embedded video on the Twitter iOS app.

Twitch has been around since 2011 and, with 100+ million unique viewers per month, is the top video platform and community for gamers. Users watch longer than other platforms, at 106 minutes watched per person per day! Game developers, media, events, and more are on Twitch, with audio and chat capabilities to enable broadcasters and viewers to interact while they game.

Blab lets anyone have their own talk show with two - four people on camera at a time, and like other live-streaming apps, includes a live chat. A couple of unique factors: Anyone can call in to an open seat and become a host in the chat, and there’s an option to record just a portion of the show, or the entire thing. The average Blab user spends 65 minutes per day watching Blabs.

Livestream is similar to YouTube Live in that it works well for professional-level multicam live-streaming. Broadcasters can stream through a number of devices, including GoPro, mobile, and HDMI camera.

YouNow is a live-streaming app used heavily by young millennials (70% of users are under 24), with users live-streaming in channels like “Musicians” or “#SleepingSquad.” Viewers can tip performers with points purchased through the app; the performer then receives real money as a tip. Buzzfeed calls it “sort of like Vine meets Chat Roulette meets The Gong Show.”

3 brands who've nailed live-streaming

Brands have been taking advantage of the new medium and its potential nearly as long as the medium itself has been around. On October 12, 2015, BMW teased a camouflaged version of the M2 bumper. Fans quickly spotted the hidden Instagram handle hidden in the pattern, leading to a contest that included a chance to win a day on the track before the M2 went on sale. The next day, immediately following the launch, the M2 was revealed live on Periscope, using a multi-cam setup for a race around the BMW Performance Driving Center in South Carolina. The Periscope launch resulted in 5K viewers, 65K hearts, 3K followers added, and 21.6MM campaign impressions.

Meanwhile, in July 2015, GE launched #DroneWeek, a five-day Periscope multicast of technology and machinery, giving viewers an inside look at GE’s least-accessible facilities, like Peebles, Ohio, where jet engines are tested. Olstein calls it “basically GE’s version of Shark Week,” going live a few times throughout each day with flights and Q&A with GE scientists and technologists. #DroneWeek resulted in 20K viewers on Periscope, 15% engagement on Twitter (tripling the brand’s average), 44.7MM earned media impressions, and 2.2MM earned social impressions from press. #DroneWeek will be back this summer with an inside look at how GE is helping Rio prepare the city’s infrastructure ahead of the Olympics.

And in the retail world, Kohl’s live-streamed Lauren Conrad’s collection from NY Fashion Week 2015 on Periscope, with styles available for purchase via Kohls.com after the show. They particularly wanted to increase their use of digital tools inspired by Conrad’s already strong social presence. More recently, they-live streamed from this year’s Academy Awards with Vanessa Bayer and Mindy Weiss; highlights can be seen here.

Our 6 top takeaways

Test, test, test. At this year’s SXSW, Mashable explained how they’re experimenting with live-streaming in a number of ways, including live-streaming SXSW panels and events at Mashable House. Martinet recommends “get[ting] in early to establish an audience in case it’s the next big thing,” and learning about what will and won’t work. Mashable was streaming 2-5x per day for a month; now, it’s less about how often, but what they’re providing, and what’s the value.

Think through your goals. Make live-streaming a seamless part of your content strategy by figuring out your brand’s goals for live video. Don’t be afraid to experiment at first, but once you have a few in your pocket, think about “what value am I bringing to my audience with this stream?”

Maximize the moment. Consider a multi-camera setup while you’re live-streaming, to catch extra angles that can be reused as content on other platforms. Facebook Live offers the option to save the video to your camera roll and upload a higher-quality video at the end of your stream; saving in HD allows you to publish the content to other platforms without compromising quality.

Engage! As most live-streaming platforms have a chat feature, plan ahead to ensure you’re engaging with your fans while staying on track with your stream. For #DroneWeek, GE created a second brand profile so an engineer could answer questions as they were coming into the stream. Alternatively, have a second person on camera to monitor questions as they come through chat.

Plan ahead. The obvious downside to live-streaming is that there are no do-overs. In the case of BMW’s launch, the stakes were particularly high; the team was using the only M2 in America at that time, so they had to be incredibly careful not to wreck or damage the car. Ensure that you’re in a place with secure, consistent Wi-Fi; GE brought a satellite truck to some of the #DroneWeek flights and will do so again for their shoots in Rio. Unless your stream is truly impromptu, tease it on your other social platforms ahead of the stream launch so your fans are prepared and anticipating.

...but let go of the reins. Once you’ve prepped beforehand, it’s time to cross your fingers and go live. If you embrace it, you can get some really great content.

What are you waiting for?

Some of the benefits of live-streaming include live audience engagement (creating a closer sense of community), an untapped market, lower cost when compared to pre-planned video content, and a sense of urgency. Brands are at a better time than ever to incorporate live-streaming video into their content strategy to meet and exceed social goals—so what will you stream first?

Bonus: Dive into our Smart Social Report: Volume Four for an even more in-depth look at trends in live-streaming. (There's a whole chapter to sink your teeth into.)

Traci Mazurek's picture

Traci Mazurek

@heytrace
Traci Mazurek is a content strategist on Spredfast's strategic services team, partnering with customers to provide strategic counsel and create compelling content. Prior to Spredfast, she worked as a social strategist at R/GA and as a community manager for MapMyFitness (now Under Armour Connected Fitness) and the National Breast Cancer Foundation.