Four Steps to Getting Started with Live Streaming
You’ve heard all of the buzz around live streaming. You’ve learned about the capabilities, are intrigued by how it can help you spread your organization’s message to a much wider audience, and are ready to get started.
Before you really dig your heels in and get started with live streaming, there are just a few things that you should keep in mind. You’ll need to have a solid plan of action. You’ll need to be able to professionally produce and distribute the content that you’ll be live streaming. And, unbeknownst to many, you’ll need to be able to track the results of your efforts.
So let’s take a look at four steps you can follow to get started with your live streaming efforts. By following these steps, you’ll be able to get out in front of a lot more people, and you’ll look like a pro while you’re doing it!
1. Start with a solid live streaming plan
A successful online strategy starts with a commitment to resources from the top. Stakeholders must be committed to budgets and the overall strategy. You may consider hiring an online host responsible for the online web page and viewer engagement.
You are now a broadcaster and should think like one — now and into the future. Broadcasters are conscious of timing and execution. Your organization may not allow for a TV schedule scenario, but media personnel are always thinking about timing and how it impacts the distribution of the content.
Also, consider how to handle the online viewers prior to, in between, and after the live streaming sessions. Using these times to speak to the audience is wise. Speak directly to the online attendees – make them feel a part of the event.
Pre-production meetings are a great way to make sure your live and Video On Demand (VOD) content is of exceptional quality. This allows for drafting details around pre-determined shot calls and the insertion of other media designed to support points during the message delivery.
Think ahead — don’t wait until the day of, or day prior to, an event to configure a workflow. Haivision provides 24/7 video streaming support and many times we’ve received a call from someone an hour prior to going live who needs some major engineering or heaving technical lifting. Streaming times are prime time — configure and test everything well in advance of production times.
2. Your events need to be produced professionally
Let’s assume you have good video production equipment in place. You’ve got your cameras, switchers, etc. Be sure to use the best quality gear you can afford. The old adage “Garbage in = Garbage Out” certainly applies when it comes to video quality on the web.
When looking at costs, we often see organizations cut corners and contract for low bandwidth. To ensure you give viewers a high quality experience, think twice and contract for more bandwidth than you need. Bandwidth is coming down in cost and you are only going to need more as technology requires it.
Try investing in a high quality baseband encoder that can stream multi-bit rates to your web and mobile audience. The flexibility will pay huge dividends. Make sure to use a reputable Content Delivery Network with global coverage – one with primary and backup capabilities along with the ability to stream HLS and MPEG DASH.
Your communications, media and web teams should all be on the same page around the online experience, messaging and branding harmony being delivered.
Make sure to interact with your audience.. Think about how you are connecting with the viewers and how you can pull them in and engage them with your in-person experience and attendees. Pre-Roll, Live or VOD greetings and Post Roll closings are excellent options. Use calls-to-action and follow-ups to keep the online audience engaged.
Video quality is important, but there is no need to go crazy with super high-resolution output (4K, etc). You’ll find that 720p or 1080i is typically does the job well. Consider the audience’s screen sizes and the fact that over 50 percent of your viewers are on some sort of mobile device.
Steer clear of time-specific greetings and references – particularly if you are recording the content for VOD or simulated live rebroadcasting. Run all audio through a separate broadcast mix board to ensure your online audience is getting excellent audio. If you have an audience, you can mic the audience and send that audio to the live stream broadcast mix.
All of this will go a long way towards making your viewers feel at home.
3. Choose how and where you’ll distribute your video
When thinking about digital distribution you will need to consider the web portals you want to send your video stream to and how you can best manage that distribution. Using an Online Video Platform, also known as an OVP, is a great way to efficiently manage your content from one source to many portals.
An OVP is a simple browser-based tool for managing your organization’s live and on demand media distribution. You can upload your content, store it, and manage how and where you want to display it.
If possible, a website of your own is the ideal place to do this (as opposed to streaming over social networks) as it allows you to control the overall experience you’re offering to your viewers. Let’s just say there are a lot fewer distractions on your own website. Not to mention that you retain control of your brand this way.
Your website is a living, breathing representation of your organization online and must be kept fresh and up to date. All other online portals (should you choose to stream over others) and apps should point back to your main website.
This being the desired method for engagement and managing your messaging, your site must be able to handle the traffic – especially high loads of traffic during streamed or special events. Webmasters should be up to date on how best to provide a secure and scalable service for your website delivery. Make sure you’ve got the right people to make it happen!
That said, you still have options like YouTube Live, Facebook Live, etc, to choose from. If nothing else, they do allow you to reach people where they are most likely to be: on social media.
Another way that you might consider distributing content is with your own app.
The mobile app landscape began with the introduction of the first iPhone back in 2007. As of late 2016, the Apple store contained over 2.2 million apps up from 1.2 Million in 2015. This is what we call rapid growth!
Syndicating and distributing media content through the current mobile app ecosystems is something that anyone looking to reach a larger audience via live streaming should be considering. It’s not just a “must-have” item, but a critical method to help you extend your reach.
4. Track the results of your live streams and learn from your discoveries
Now that you’re live streaming your content, you’re going to want to know how well you’re doing!. Online delivery allows for easy, affordable tracking of your viewers’ behavior and the quality of their viewing experience. When selecting an OVP be sure to confirm that they offer easily aggregated granular metrics. As the saying goes, if you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it!
Stats ensure you are building the right types of online interactions for your website and mobile apps to effectively engage and speak to your online membership. With statistics such as QoS (Quality of Service) you can view data to determine various quality metrics like exits before your videos start, buffering, and even the bit rates used in video consumption.
Stats are critical and trend analysis is important to make effective decisions for your organization.
Mine your data to see trends and message effectiveness across several metrics. Windows is still the most popular operating system at 30-40 percent of computer use. macOS, Linux and Chromebook follow behind that. iOS devices continue to show higher rates of media consumption that Android.
Once you’re able to view your statistics, analyze them for any clues that can help you improve your live stream. Are viewers tuning in, but dropping out during a specific segment, or at a specific time? Are you getting more viewers in a specific location than others? Are more people watching on mobile than on desktop? All of these statistics can lead you in the direction you need to go in to improve the experience you give to all of your viewers.
Now that you’re live streaming…
There are always opportunities to get better at live streaming. No matter what your organization’s message is, there’s no doubt that you can spread it farther and faster than ever before with live streaming.
Make sure that you take every opportunity you can to learn how to make each broadcast better than the last one. You’ll find yourself reaching audiences far and wide before you know it. Happy streaming!