Live streaming is becoming more popular, but it is important to make sure that a live stream is right for your content and your audience.
What is a livestream?
Live streaming is the broadcasting of live video to an audience, often over social media. Unlike pre-recorded videos that can be cut and edited, live streaming is just that – a live showing of the event.
Decide if your content should be a live streamed.
The main reason to host a livestream, instead of just uploading a pre-recorded video, is if you intend to foster conversations with your viewing audience and interact with them. Is your goal to engage viewers in conversation in real-time? Are you prepared to answer questions and comments from viewers on the spot? If so, a livestream might be the right solution. If not, consider filming a pre-recorded video to share.
What platform should I use?
Determine the target audience you’re trying to engage with your livestream. What social media platform does your audience use most often? For example, if you’re interested in livestreaming to current students, consider using Instagram Live, whereas if you’re interested in livestreaming to parents, consider using Facebook.
What time of day should I go live?
You want to make sure you go live when your audience is available to tune in. For example, if you’re interested in livestreaming to parents, don’t go live in the middle of a workday. Go live in the evening or on a weekend when they are sure to be online to watch in real time.
How long should I livestream?
You should livestream for at least 10 minutes and no longer than an hour. It takes a few minutes to gain an audience, so expect viewership to gradually increase after going live.
How can I promote the livestream ahead of time?
Post on the social media platform where you plan to host the livestream a few days in advance to give followers a heads-up. Post again the day before the livestream in case they forget. You can also cross-promote on other social media platforms to expand the reach of your livestream.
Should I engage with viewers during the livestream?
Yes! That’s the advantage to hosting a livestream. Be prepared for questions and comments from viewers. Have talking points ready to answer anything that may come up. If you’re expecting a lot of engagement, have a second administrator logged in to answer questions in the chat in real-time.
What equipment do I need to “go live?”
You have a couple different options.
Option 1: Smartphone and Tripod
This is the cheapest and quickest option to livestream on YouTube or Facebook. The video quality will be less formal. This option is only recommended for locations with a strong and steady WiFi signal.
- Smartphone tripod (or tripod with a phone holder attachment)
Option 2: Laptop with a Webcam
This option allows you to produce higher quality video and audio at a relatively low price. You also have the option to share your screen if you want to show viewers PowerPoint slides or graphics.
- Laptop and laptop charger (if possible, set up the laptop with a wired ethernet connection. WiFi is an option but is prone to cutting out and is not recommended.)
- Video software such as Zoom (You can stream directly through YouTube or Facebook without this tool, but they can improve the experience)
Where should I place the camera?
Consider your background. You want to ideally include colors or something visually interesting in the background.
Lighting is important so that people can see you clearly. You don’t necessarily need a specific light, but look at the video before you start your Livestream and make sure that subjects’ faces are bright and clear. Also, be sure NOT to film with a window in the shot- it will likely cause people’s faces to be dark.
What should I know about audio quality?
Audio quality is critical because the audience needs to be able to hear you. Make sure that anyone who will be talking stays close to the phone or laptop that is recording. The further they are from the recording device, the harder it will be to hear them. If you have a way of using an external microphone, that would be ideal, and if so, you’ll want to get as close as possible to the microphone.
How do I “go live” on Facebook?
Open the Facebook on your laptop or smartphone. Click “Create Post” at the top of your newsfeed. Click the ellipsis (…) then select “Live Video.” Write the text copy for your livestream (What should viewers expect? Why should they tune in?). Make sure your phone is oriented properly – whether you want the livestream to be horizontal or vertical. Then, click “Go Live” in the bottom right.
How do I “go live” on YouTube?
To create a livestream via webcam on YouTube, select the “Upload” icon in the upper right-hand corner (it looks like a camera with a + sign). Click “Go Live.” At the top, select “Webcam.” Enter a title and description and select a privacy setting. You can also schedule your livestream for a later date. Click “More Options > Advanced Settings.” Then, select “Save” to capture a thumbnail for the livestream. Then click “Go Live.”
To stream live from a smartphone on YouTube, you need to have at least 1,000 subscribers. Download the YouTube app and open it. Select the camera button in the upper right-hand corner. Grant permissions for the YouTube ap to access the camera, mic and storage. If prompted, verify your channel. Select “Go Live.”