As we explored in our previous article, An Introduction to Social Media Live Streaming, there are a huge variety of ways in which brands can benefit from live streaming to audiences via their social media channels. Whether it’s building brand awareness or driving conversions, pursuing a live streaming strategy can be well worth the investment.
As useful as social media streaming can be, however, live broadcast does come with inherent risks. With no opportunity to edit or review your content before it’s seen by your audience, preparation becomes even more vital in live video production, and knowing what to avoid is a key stepping stone to live streaming success.
Why use live streaming?
Whether it’s twitch streamers nattering companionably as they build impressive structures in Minecraft or live Q&As with industry leaders broadcast over LinkedIn, live video has exploded in popularity over recent years. According to recent research, 80% of consumers prefer to watch live videos from a brand than read a blog, and in our information-hungry age, there is a huge appetite for rich, exciting and interactive content.
For brands hoping to reach young audiences, live streaming is perhaps one of the most powerful ways to do so, with 63% of people aged 18-34 reporting that they watch live streamed content regularly. What’s more, its cultural influence shows signs of continuing to grow, with the live streaming market set to be worth over $247 billion by 2027.
But while there is a strong rationale for why brands should weave live streaming into their wider content strategy, the practicalities of how they go about creating this content is something that often needs to be carefully planned. Mistakes made when broadcasting live aren’t always disastrous – indeed, in some cases, they can be rather charming, with a homespun, casual feel deliberately cultivated by some creators – but for the most part, brands are understandably keen to get things right.
Knowing the common stumbling blocks of any new activity in advance is always useful, helping content creators to know what to look out for and skip a few painful learning curves.
So what do brands need to avoid when live-streaming for the first time?
Having mined their collective wealth of experience, the team at Broadcast Revolution have highlighted five common mistakes:
Number one: Attempting too much too soon
Like any other kind of broadcast, there is a large variety of content types represented within the genre of “live streaming” – from carefully orchestrated events with high production values to extremely relaxed affairs where someone has simply picked up their phone and pressed “go live”. Unless, for whatever reason, you have team members or brand ambassadors who are supremely confident on-air, it’s likely you will favour a planned approach to live streaming, but it can be a mistake to be over-ambitious.
While there’s nothing wrong with investing time, money and effort in trying to achieve the best results possible (with a focus on content preparation, set design, supporting assets and top-of-the-range gear), remember it is better to build incrementally on small, solid successes than set the bar too high and fall at the first hurdle. Instead, a long-term strategy should allow your team to learn by doing, and their ambition to increase with experience.
Number two: Failing to plan ahead
Live broadcast can be unpredictable, but thorough planning can make it far easier to smooth over many unfortunate occurrences. By considering any aspect of filming that could potentially go wrong, you can plan an alternative, or have plenty of information to hand that will help you.
For instance, you can memorise a list of taking points should there be an uncomfortable moment of dead air, and set up backup Wi-Fi routers in case there are any issues with your primary connection. Take a look at the things other brands have done right and wrong in their live streams, and use this to point to any issues that may crop up.
Number three: Not testing your equipment and internet connection
Live stream success tends to lean heavily on how well your equipment works. With so many other demands for their attention, consumers have a low tolerance for a bad stream – with 90 seconds being the most an average viewer will put up with a spotty live video. Even if you’re just using a ring light, camera phone and tripod, it’s vital to take this lack of patience for low quality into account, and as production values increase, so do the number of “moving parts” you need to pay attention to.
This is why testing your equipment before broadcasting is hugely important – this is your opportunity to check factors such as:
- Your camera is recording correctly.
- Everyone can be heard clearly through the microphone.
- You don’t have a slow or spotty Internet connection or buffering issues.
- The social media platform you’re broadcasting to isn’t suffering an outage.
Testing and rehearsal is also an opportunity to have a dry run at your script (or elements of it) and check everyone involved is on the same page. Many streaming platforms will have a “preview” mode which gives you the chance to test your equipment, or you can create a closed group or dummy account with a few colleagues to analyze the stream and give feedback.
Number four: Poor audio or video quality
If there’s one thing you shouldn’t overlook before going live, it’s conducting a sound and video check. The need to test your equipment should give you plenty of time and space to get the audio and visual quality right, and this is an opportunity you shouldn’t miss.
You can achieve good audio and video quality with a vast range of equipment when live streaming, (plenty of streamers just use their phone, an affordable microphone and a tripod) but whether you have state-of-the-art gear or simply the best your budget could stretch to, you will need to troubleshoot in order to get the most desirable results. What’s more, simply having the most expensive equipment won’t necessarily translate to the best quality live stream, especially if you aren’t au fait with how the equipment works.
Some common audio and visual problems it pays to watch out for include:
- The microphone picking up extraneous noise, like building work going on outside or the breathing of one of your guests.
- Bad lighting which makes your products or presenters not appear as they should do.
- The camera failing to focus properly (especially in close-up).
- Poorly thought-through camera angles which include things in shot you’d rather not be there, or that miss key information.
Number five: Forgetting to market your live stream
Unfortunately, like so much in marketing, live streaming is rarely a case of “build it and they will come”. Alongside preparing for the stream itself, it’s important to create a promotional strategy around it, and have plans in place for how you will build on the success of the live stream once it has been aired. This might mean repurposing the content for your website and elsewhere, evolving a one-off event into a series, or using your live streams to form brand partnerships and PR opportunities.
At Broadcast Revolution, we have extensive experience in creating and promoting social media campaigns based around exciting video content – from filming to promotion. If you would like to find out more about how we can help, drop us a note today.