Live Streaming Guide for Businesses!
By Toni M. Talley
When cities, states, and countries decided to shut down due to COVID-19, many businesses scrambled to find creative ways to keep their businesses afloat using technology. Platforms such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and Skype were universally used as tools to hold face-to-face meetings within companies and with clients. And as in-person events such as conferences, concerts, high-school and college graduations to name few were on the fence to postpone or cancel, some organizers have been able to move forward, as planned, with live streaming and creating the virtual experience.
Though live streaming has been around for years, use skyrocketed when the global pandemic forced us to find alternatives to sharing the same space. Live streaming is on target to be a billion-dollar industry by 2021. What once was heavily used by social media influencers and vloggers has become a place for religious leaders to minister to their congregations, educators to teach to their students, DJs to host listening parties and platforms for Q&A forums to help the world stay sane during these unprecedented times. Streaming makes a way for all industries to engage with their respective audiences in real-time.
With the unknown future of live interaction, getting your business in tune with live streaming options could be beneficial. Below are some useful tips compiled by and offered by Blue Symphony to get your business set up with live streaming.
As depicted below, streaming can be defined in three steps:
1. Capture (Audio & Video)
2. Process (Software & Hardware that enables the connection)
3. Distribute (the placement or final destination of your stream)
Continue reading for more information on this process.
What type of equipment will you need?
- Video and Audio Sources
You will need a camera and microphone. That can be as simple as the camera and mic on your computer, tablet, or mobile phone. More sophisticated audio-visual equipment can help you level up the experience. If you find yourself planning a larger-scaled event, such as multiple speakers or panelists, delivering a presentation to a large audience, or hosting a conference with many attendees, it’s best to use professional grade cameras, microphones, and audio mixer.
The camera from your smartphone, tablet or computer works for both casual and professional uses, especially if you’re featuring just one or two individuals. However, standalone cameras, including camcorders, high-end webcams, mirrorless or DSLRs are better for larger productions or for enhanced quality. Keep in mind these cameras may require adapters or accessories such as HDMI cables and capture cards, extra power supply. We also recommend quality lighting. With all equipment, be sure to test your setup, in advance.
A high-quality microphone will cancel out background noise, making the sound experience clearer and more engaging. Microphones can be simple such as a lavalier that can be attached to someone’s shirt to make for a hands-free audio. Other microphone options include a hand-held microphone or a microphone with a stand.
- Streaming software
Streaming software includes a video encoder that will package the video in real-time to send to the internet. If you choose to use your phone or laptop for video and audio capture, the encoder is already there. However, let’s say you use a stand-alone camera. In that case, you’ll need a stand-alone encoder to transmit the video to the internet. OBS is one of the free streaming software options and one recommended for Facebook. Learn more about video encoders, here.
Where should you live stream?
One of the most important steps of live streaming is the destination. Where can people go to view your live stream? Experts say to live stream on the platforms your audience is already using to stay in the know with your company or brand. The most common destinations are social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn.
Facebook is the top destination according to Zoominfo, which reports that 78% of online audiences are already watching video on Facebook Live and that live content on Facebook received 10x more comments than regular text posts, which essentially means live feedback for a product, service, training, etc.
Platforms like Facebook give users the ability to easily live stream by simply clicking, go live, however, there are other streaming options designed to surpass features available on free services like Facebook’s. These premium features can include better security options, around the clock tech support, and removing third-party advertisements. And you don’t have to stream from just one platform. There are several applications, such as StreamYard, that allow you to simultaneously stream to Facebook and other platforms like YouTube and your own website
What if I have a large group to live stream to?
No worries. There are platforms with broadcast features beneficial for large groups, too. Some features include document and video sharing. Zoom, for instance, offers sophisticated administration options and includes breakout rooms, where moderators can direct streamers to private sessions, all within the same call.
Will I need to have a strong internet connection?
Yes! Make sure you have a strong internet connection to minimize buffering and freezing. Connecting directly to the internet via an ethernet cord is always recommended over a wi-fi connection. However, there are mobile solutions, like bonded cellular, that offer strong connections on-the-go.
Extra benefits of live streaming
Live video is an authentic interaction. It allows businesses to engage with audiences on a deeper, more human level when in-person interaction is not practical. An added bonus is that live video can be recorded and retrieved for a wide variety of purposes ranging from meeting minutes to on-demand produced presentations
Live streaming is going to play a vital role in the sustainability of a business moving forward in the short-term and in the post-COVID future as well. It can be key to connecting with your target audiences in real-time. The proof is already in the pudding as statistics show that two-thirds of all internet traffic results from live streaming and that stat is expected to jump to 82% this year (2020) alone!
Blue Symphony offers consultation and can assist in the success of your organization’s live streaming efforts as well as other technology, digital communications, and marketing strategies. Let’s chat!