In 2020 with many of us around the world in lockdown, it felt like everyone and their nan was going live on social media!
According to Cisco, live video will account for 13% of traffic this year. But thanks to Covid-19 and the huge growth in live content during 2020 it’s actually likely that this will be much higher.
Markets and Markets believe the global video streaming software market size is expected to grow from USD 6.1 billion in 2020 to USD 15.0 billion by 2025 – that’s a staggering increase!
But what is live content and why is it so popular? What should you be using it for? Where should you be using it?
In our ‘No Nonsense Guide to Live’ we’ll be delving into these topics and more. Making sense of how and why you should be using live video content to benefit your business.
What is live content?
Does this seem like a trick question? Surely, live content is video content that is captured and streamed live to your audience?
Well, it can be, but ‘live’ content can also cover other scenarios and it’s important to understand the different options to choose the ones that may work best for you and your project based on your goals.
Live Streaming refers to online streaming media simultaneously recorded and broadcast in real-time. When most of us think of ‘live’ content we think of live streaming. Although many of us now picture social media, such as Facebook or Instagram live streams, it’s worth thinking about live streaming in a traditional broadcasting sense too.
For example, news broadcasts are almost always streamed live, and the reason is behind this is that they are time sensitive. Broadcasting live allows for breaking news to be added to the programme in real time. Why is this important? Well, it can help you think of your own content that might be time sensitive and suit a live streamed approach.
Awards and Celebrations
Awards ceremonies are a prime example of an event that can benefit from being streamed live. Streaming awards live means you can capture reactions to wins as they happen. Without live awards we might have missed out on Kayne grabbing the microphone from Taylor Swift at the Grammys or the La La Land and Moonlight mix up at the Oscars. Live streaming means you can capture all the tears, disappointment and joy as they happen!
For example, we worked with ECMA and ProCarton to live stream their awards in 2020. Due to the pandemic, the awards couldn’t go ahead in person as they had in previous years, so we set up a live steam that captured the nominees and winners’ reactions in real-time for the audience. A live stream allowed the audience to retain the essence of the in-person event by finding out the winners of each award in real-time.
Time sensitive events are also a great way to utilise live streaming. This could be anything from a training conference or webinar to a fundraising event. In broadcasting, this could be an event such as Children in Need where the live element means monetary donations can be tracked throughout the programme.
We took this approach when working with charity Glass Door. Their Sleep Out event normally sees fundraisers come together to sleep out in one location to raise money. Because of lockdown restrictions, instead fundraisers were in their own outdoor locations and we used a live stream to share content with them and bring a sense of unity for all of those involved.
Equally a live training event such as a webinar or conference can also be a good opportunity to live stream. It allows participants to interact to the training or key-note speeches in real-time, asking questions and getting feedback. We took this approach with our ‘How to guarantee (and report) a powerful ROI from your video content’ webinar. Our Head of Content Tim Jarvis delivered this training in real-time giving participants the opportunity to comment and ask questions throughout.
Live Streaming Pre-Recorded Video
Another option is to live stream content that has been pre-recorded. This approach works particularly well to create a sense of anticipation for product launches, interviews or for competitions. Pre-recording content means teasers can be created to heighten the sense of anticipation, leading up to when the content is live streamed.
Because content is recorded in advance, it can also be edited so that it is more polished, less raw and a clear story can be created for the audience. In an example of a product launch, pre-recorded content can help you to ensure that you cover every single selling point, which might be harder to do if content is recorded and streamed simultaneously.
When thinking of pre-recorded live streamed content, it’s worth thinking of competition series such as The Great British Bake Off. It’s key that each episode is broadcast or live streamed to the audience at the same time to avoid spoilers, however the content is pre-recorded so that throughout the series a clear story arc can be maintained, and it is engaging for the audience.
This is an approach we took with both Farmers Apprentice and the Farmers Weekly Awards, where content was filmed and edited in advance but then premiered live on YouTube and the Farmers Weekly website. Taking this approach allowed us to create trailers for each episode, but not give away any spoilers as to the overall winners.
Hybrid Live Content
As well as the two examples above it’s also possible to take a hybrid approach to live. This is where elements of live and pre-recorded content are combined.
This is an approach we took with Alleyn’s School for their annual speech day. We produced a live stream with a hybrid approach, utilising both live streamed speeches from staff in the school itself, alongside pre-recorded speeches from external guests and other pre-recorded content such as performances from students.
Utilising a hybrid approach can relieve some of the pressure of needing to create a whole programme of live content. Having some raw live elements against more polished pre-recorded elements can also help your audience to stay engaged.
Another way to approach hybrid is to record live with some of your audience in-house and then release to your larger audience through a later live stream. This is an approach that works well for ticketed events, where the live audience pay to watch in person, with content then eventually being available to a greater number of people.
This is something that Strictly Come Dancing do, with the show being filmed in front of a live studio audience and then broadcast to the general public later. During lockdown many theatres also took this approach, live streaming previously recorded theatre performances whilst they were closed to maintain a connection with their audience.
Why is live content so popular?
Now we’ve covered the different types of live content, it’s important to delve into why it can be so popular.
Live streamed content can create more of a connection with your audience. If you are recording and streaming simultaneously it’s possible to include the audience in your content, from answering questions in real-time to simply giving someone in your audience a shout out. Going live can make your viewers feel like the lucky few that are in the room with you.
Even with live streamed pre-recorded content it can create a sense of being in the moment with your audience as everyone watches and reacts to the content at the same time. With premiering pre-recorded content on YouTube or Facebook for example, you can still use the comments to answer questions or engage with your audience as they’re watching.
Live streamed content is raw, and viewers expect it to be. It can be an opportunity to show your audience elements of your brand that they wouldn’t normally see, such as behind the scenes and this in turn can help them to become more emotionally connected with your business.
Equally the moments where things go wrong can sometimes be the most engaging! From Jennifer Lawrence falling over her dress at the Oscars to Professor Robert Kelly being interrupted by his children in the middle of a BBC interview, these moments remind us that during a live stream anything can happen, and we need to watch to avoid missing out!
What type of content should you use for live streaming?
You can go live with almost any type of content, but it’s worth thinking about what content you can create a sense of anticipation for, so that people get excited for your live stream and count-down to when they can watch!
Product or Service Announcements
Live streamed videos can be a great addition to a launch campaign for a product or service. Whether this is live streamed or pre-recorded and premiered on a specific date, a video that delves into a new product or new product features is a great way to utilise live.
Cricut are experts at this approach, scheduling live streams across all their global markets to introduce new products or features within their design space. They also leverage their Cricut influencers to introduce video content for new products and services on the same day to complement and enhance their own live content.
Going live to introduce new features or products also gives you an opportunity to get instant feedback from customers, answer questions and have these feed directly into FAQs and help guides.
Awards and Celebrations
Whether you are having an awards ceremony in-person and also want to live stream the event or you are going completely virtual, going live is a great option for events such as awards. A live stream can ensure that everyone watches at the same time and is able to experience reactions from winners (and losers) in real-time.
The added benefit of a live streamed awards event is that it also increases the number of people who can ‘attend’, bringing greater awareness for the event organisers, nominees, winners and sponsors. Now so many awards have succeeded virtually, we’ll be watching to see if more consider a hybrid approach in the future to get the best of both worlds.
Conferences, training events or talks can all work well through a live stream. Like with award ceremonies, you can either take a hybrid approach with some experiencing the event live and others live streaming or go completely virtual!
A live streamed event can also include people from around the world who might not otherwise be able to attend in person, bringing greater brand awareness and engagement than usual. If event sessions are available via replay it can also allow conference delegates to attend more sessions than they normally could attend in person too.
Live streaming allows you to have greater engagement with your audience. So, Q&As with team members such as ‘Ask me anything’ or interviews where some questions can come from the audience are both fantastic ways to encourage engagement whilst giving customers a different view into your business.
It’s not just internal interviews that work, you can also interview customers to show the real impact of your products and services. You can also do Q&As as part of product or service launches to allow customers to gain as much insight into new releases as possible and encourage purchases.
Where should you be using live content?
There are lots of options for live streaming content and the platforms you choose should be dependent on your target audience and the type of content you will be sharing, as well as the budget and personnel you have available.
We’re going to go through some of the places you live stream, to help you think about which might be most suitable for your next piece of live content.
You can stream live content on most social media platforms including YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter and TikTok. Many platforms prioritise live content in their newsfeeds, so going live can help with you with your overall engagement and reach.
Live streaming on social media platforms is free and in many cases involves less technical equipment than other options. There are also a number of tools such as restream that will allow you to live stream to multiple platforms at once.
YouTube offers two options for live streaming content to your audience. The first is YouTube Live, which can be used to live stream via webcam, mobile or encoder streaming. The second, YouTube Premieres can be used to schedule a premiere of new video content. It provides you with a public watch page that can be shared in advance of the live stream. Both of these options give audience members the ability to comment live whilst watching, so that you can engage directly with your viewers.
YouTube also has a Live API, which makes it much easier to stream live on YouTube whilst also streaming to other services. It also offers extensive analytics so that you can delve into the data behind your live stream.
Like YouTube Facebook has two options for live content, Facebook Live which can be used to live stream via webcam, mobile or encoder streaming. The second, Facebook Premieres can be used to schedule a premiere of new video content and immediately publish an announcement post to your page.
Using Facebook for live content means access to the world’s largest online audiences through a platform they already use every day. Like YouTube both live options on Facebook allow for real-time commenting, but Facebook also allows for real-time interactions, which gives a unique way to engage and interact with your audience.
As well as analytics so you can see the audience data behind your live stream, it’s also possible to boost live videos as paid ads so that you can reach an even bigger audience.
Again, there are two options for live content on LinkedIn, the first LinkedIn Live which you can use to stream live video content to your page. The second LinkedIn Event allows you to create a gated, targeted stream. There are also analytics so you can delve into the data of your live stream.
However, unlike YouTube and Facebook, to go live on LinkedIn you need more than just your phone or laptop, you’ll also need to qualify for live and use a third-party broadcast tool. LinkedIn gives some suggestions of tools that you can use, as well as a handy guide of the steps you need to take to get started with live content, however going live on this platform may take slightly more investment than some other options.
Instagram Live lets users stream live videos to their followers through Instagram Stories and it’s an easy way to connect directly with your audience. To go live on Instagram all you need is a phone and within a swipe you can get started.
Like Facebook, Instagram Live has the ability to support comments and interactions from your audience. There are also a number of tools to help support engagement, such as questions and fun elements like filters. However, Instagram Live doesn’t allow you to schedule content in the way you can on other social platforms.
Instagram Live lends itself to quick and raw live video content, such as behind the scenes of your business rather than pre-scheduled product launches or events.
Like Instagram Twitter Live allows you to point and shoot to go live! Twitter Live uses Periscope for their live functionality and it’s as simple as tapping live to create a broadcast. Like Instagram, Twitter lends itself to more impulsive live video content.
Unlike some of the other social media platforms, Twitter doesn’t allow you to schedule live broadcasts in advance. However, it is possible to produce high-quality broadcasts using Producer in their Media Studio. This allows you to live stream from external sources including streaming software, hardware encoders, and professional cameras.
Live video streaming on TikTok allows you to connect with your followers in real-time using comments. Duration of live video on TikTok is not yet restricted so it can be a great way to produce longer videos for your audience which cover more content.
Like Instagram and Twitter, TikTok Live lends itself better to raw live video content as you cannot schedule live content in advance and TikTok also restricts the number of users that can go live at any given time.
Social media can be a great way to use live streaming to connect with your external audience, but it’s not suitable for every scenario. If you are live streaming content for a paid event or for an internal audience, it’s likely that social media just won’t cut it. You’ll need to consider a more robust live streaming option that puts quality of content first and will keep your content and users secure.
Platforms like Vimeo, IMB Cloud Video, Brightcove, Panopto, Kaltura, Qumu and DaCast are a few options that you might want to consider if you need to stream to a website.
As these options differ massively, to decide on the best option for your live stream project, you need to think about your audience and content, as well as your technical setup. Some platforms lend themselves better to a multiple camera setup and others to beginners so it’s worth making a list of your technical requirements in order to find the best option for your needs.
If this all sounds very scary, then you may want to consider using a production company (like PinPoint Media) to help you produce a professional live stream. We can provide equipment, personnel and the streaming platform for you as well as support for the whole process.
Webinars and Video Meetings
Live streaming is also perfect for training sessions such as webinars. There are a number of specific webinar tools available for live training such as EverWebinar, Demio, Livestorm, WebinarJam, WebinarNinja and more! Most of these options will allow you to live stream video to your delegates, whilst offering additional engagement tools such as Q&As, comments and polls.
Webinar providers also offer recording functionality, so that you can send recordings to delegates who might need to revisit the session or who missed it for any reason. It’s also possible in some cases to record a webinar live and then reschedule the content to replay for different audiences on future dates, perfect for internal or external training sessions.
There are also many video options for video meetings such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Skype if your live video streaming is to your internal team. Again these offer recording options, so that you can revisit video content or send to non attendees.
Hopefully you can now see the power in live video content, how, why and where it should be used as well as the benefits it could have to your business.
However, you choose to go live it’s worth making sure you practise, promote and prep in advance to make sure it goes as smoothly as possible.
Want to get started creating live content but need more help? Why not contact us and see if we can help you create a content strategy that includes live content or help you live stream your next big event.