They say, “Hope for the best. Prepare for the worst.”, but I want you to prepare for the worst so that you can prepare to rock.
No matter what content you are livestreaming, there are a few simple rules that every live streamer should live by if they want to get the most out of their live video. Pre-production is key no matter how small or large the event you want to stream, whether it’s a rant in your car or a large-scale music festival. Take a moment and think about how best you can prepare before you hit that “Go Live” button.
Here are 10 steps to your best possible live stream performance.
#1 Test Your Internet
In order to make sure your stream won’t fail, you need to first make sure that the location you stream from has 5mb of UPLOAD speed (not download). Never trust what your provider says your internet should get. Trust me… they exaggerate as a rule. And if you are on your phone, never trust the Verizon map or the AT&T map, or the little bars at the top, they all can lie to you when it comes to uploads. Also, make sure no one else is using the internet you use, because if someone else decides to start using it for big files at the same time as you… it could make your speed drop completely. No kidding, once we were streaming using Google Fiber thinking it wouldn’t matter that others were using it. I mean… it’s Google Fiber. Wrong! 100 students logged on to just vote on something at the same time and boom… it dropped. I had to immediately change my source of internet to a cell. True story. So what should you do to test the speed correctly? I highly recommend you download the Speedtest app on your phone or computer to test the upload speed first. Then if the speed is good, run a 20 min livestream on a bogus account that no one sees to make sure the stream works. And make sure you watch the picture. It might even get fuzzy from time to time, and then you know it’s too slow for quality. Because no matter your source of internet, the speed WILL fluctuate even without anyone else on the internet. The question is how much and will it affect your stream like this. That’s why you want 5mb when you test because you really need 2.5mb speed to stream high quality, but 5mb speed on test means it shouldn’t ever fluctuate below 2.5mb at least.
#2 Set A Time
When you decide to livestream, you should think about what time you will go live. The majority of Americans live on a 9-5 schedule with a lunch break, and they go to bed around 10pm. As a result, use some common sense. You will want to stream short segments during lunchtime (11-1), and longer segments after dinner when they have more time (6-9pm). If you stream on the weekend, the data says shoot for 11am-1pm. Worried about what’s on television at those times? Keep in mind, people don’t watch commercials on TV anymore. What do you do on a commercial break during your favorite show or game? LOOK AT YOUR PHONE! In fact, 88% of millenials are looking at their phones while watching tv. That’s why traditional tv advertising dollars are plummeting and social media ad dollars are skyrocketing.
#3 Create anticipation
When any of the major TV networks schedule a show, do they just schedule it and never tell anyone? No. They tell you over and over and over that it’s coming. “Grey’s Anatomy this Thursday!” “Monday Night Football tomorrow!” “Watch at 8/7 Central.” Blah blah blah. Over and over. They drill it in your head for a reason. In the same fashion, you need to tell your audience when you are going live and remind them as many times as possible. Worried about it affecting ticket sales? Don’t be. Coachella and other music festivals are live streaming it for people for free and are selling out faster than ever. Think about it… NBA games are on tv and sell out. Ellen and The Chew and an insane list of daytime talk shows are on tv and sell out. Think about your major music events? Kelly at Christmas, or the Super Bowl performance with Gaga. It catapults your brand. Live television is by far the best marketing tool to selling your tickets. We all have that urge to see things live. And some of us just want to wave at the camera and say “Hi Mom.” That will never change, whether it’s on your TV or on your Facebook.
#4 Light the Scene
There’s a reason tv studios and theatres invest heavily in lighting. It makes people look good on camera. In the same way, you need to either light the scene or you need to find the best lighting available in a room. Even if you are live on your phone, please don’t stream if you look as dark as this photo on the left. Find a better light or window! If we can’t see you, what’s the point? You might as well do a podcast because brand trust is effected by poor quality video. 23% say they are less likely to buy from a brand after experiencing poor quality video. Who do you want to buy from? Think about your cheesy local commercials that you watch. You judge them. You know you do. A low quality video is remembered as a low quality service. Higher quality video is more trusted. Better light = better quality.
#5 Ask for Shares
If no one knows you are live, no one will watch. So first, make sure anybody involved in the livestream shares the livestream. Whether it’s a sponsor, an artist, a speaker, a venue… make sure they share it. And when you go live, remind people watching to share it and support you. And start off each stream by asking your audience sitting in front of you to share it and support you. In the end, more shares means more views, so you should be asking everyone you can to share. Create a call to action and if that doesn’t work try making it a game. “One lucky person who shares this post will win tickets to our secret show this Friday.” I would share it if it were an artist I liked, wouldn’t you?
#6 Fill dead time
How many of you will watch a television station with a still picture on it? How many of you will change the channel? Enough said. If nothing is happening, don’t leave the stream up. And make sure you pre-plan your live video to make sure there is never any dead time. Sound check? Have b roll ready or an interview or divide it into multiple streams. Don’t leave the stream dead. Viewers will leave and they won’t come back. In fact, they may get upset that it’s still on their feed and they will hide the post. At the VERY least, have a countdown, then they at least will know WHEN to come back.
#7 Create Movement
If you stay in one place with one camera, it can get pretty boring. Let’s face it. As much as we want to believe that we are as interesting as Class A Celebrities, 99% of us are not. We need to keep moving around the stage, or keep putting up graphics, or keep switching cameras (if possible). You ask any director in Hollywood, single camera films are hard for a reason. There are very few directors who attempt it. The shots get stale, and people lose interest easily. We live in a quick world, and we demand movement to keep our attention. If you’re not Michael Jackson with a Moonwalk we can “oo” and “aah” at on a wide shot, I highly recommend walking around or back and forth while you are live or throwing up some graphics. I think about the boring professors I knew who spoke in a monotone voice and sat at their desk to teach. I fell asleep in the back of the room. I couldn’t help myself. Don’t be that guy. Put on your walking shoes or prepare some graphics. There are softwares out there to add graphics. Go find them.
#8 Engage the Audience
There are only 2 reasons that live video is better than recorded video on demand. First, if you are on Facebook, your followers receive notifications when you go live. Second, you go live to ENGAGE the audience. Pay attention to their questions. Ask where they are watching from. Say hello back. Make them feel like they are there. It’s the whole point of live. It is the most engaging tool available to the ENTIRE world. You can be in Kentucky playing a back porch show, say hello to some friend of a friend in China, and they never forget you. Create fans for life simply by saying hello. You never know which will spread your name everywhere.
#9 Analyze the Data
As with any project, sit down after you go live and think about what you could have done better. Look at the analytics and see when people tuned out. Why did they stop watching? What could you have done better? Were there any technical hiccups to fix or pre-planning that you could have done? Did they click through to look at other things on your page? Did your stream get a lot of shares or likes? Think through everything and make your next live stream perform better!
#10 Reuse Reuse Reuse
You need to take your live video and make smaller clips out of it. Those clips can be reused over and over. 1 song at a time. 1 great philosophical moment at a time. One funny blooper at a time. Your content should be chopped into as many pieces as possible. Social platforms are weird and full of thousands of friends and pages. You never know what follower is on when. One post may reach them and the next won’t. But use that streaming content as many times as possible as video on-demand content and on as many platforms as possible. Your content is your treasure whose value is TIMELESS. I’ve seen people reshare a song they posted a year ago, but I just NOW saw it for the first time, loved it, and now I’m searching for more of their songs. Realize the power and value of your content and harness it.
I hope these tips help you on your quest to rock. I’m still learning and growing in this quest to rock too, so subscribe to my blog for future updates in this school of livestream rock.
Rock on, friends.
-Marissa Pio, CoFounder of Pioplay Livestream
Pioplay Livestream is proud to be the first video production company in Tennessee specializing in mobile HD live streaming and 4K productions.