Ready for some live streaming stats?
63% of people aged 18-34 watch live streaming content regularly.
47% of live streaming video viewers worldwide are watching more live videos compared to a year ago.
That’s why your business should be live streaming.
But what if you don’t even know where to start? We’re glad you found us!
Because today, we will be talking about developing a live streaming strategy for your small business.
And we will be showing you everything you need to know to host your first (successful) live stream, so read till the end for that.
If you want to learn how you can use live streaming to grow your business, keep reading!
- Live streaming is an excellent way to engage with your customers and potential customers.
- Before you get too far ahead of yourself and start planning your live stream, you need to spend some time thinking about your audience.
- In order to avoid awkward or dead air time, and decrease the chances of you fumbling for a transition or new question, create a plan for engagement.
What Is Live Streaming?
Live streaming refers to videos that your viewers experience in real-time with you.
It absolutely exploded over the last couple of years, increasing 1,200% in 2020, and we have 3 guesses why.
- Users can stream using mobile, desktop, or tablets.
- They can do it online or over data.
- It’s an engaging form of video that’s only been growing in popularity over the years.
Why Is It Useful For Small Businesses?
64% of consumers are likely to buy a product after watching a product video online.
And, over 80% of consumers want to see social media video from a brand over social posts.
Live streaming is an excellent way to engage with your customers and potential customers.
You don’t have limitations on the number of people who can join you like a physical space would have.
Also, you can reach people who aren’t in your town, which expands your potential customer base.
It’s also a great way to showcase new products or services, build relationships, and grow a community around your business.
Additionally, folks watch nearly 6 minutes longer when a video is live compared to when it’s pre-recorded.
If you’ve been in the marketing world for any length of time, you know that marketers will not shut up about video marketing…
…so we’re not going to spend too much time convincing you to try it.
But, we’re going to go over the best practices, including the best places to stream, and we’ll show you how to go live on each platform we talk about.
Best Practices For Live Streaming
Live video goes beyond the moments when you’re on camera and the audience is there.
There’s a lot of planning that goes into the really great lives that you see.
When we talk about best practices here, we’ve organized them in the order that we think you should complete them in.
1. Know Your Audience
Before you get too far ahead of yourself and start planning your live stream, or thinking of ways to promote it…
…you need to spend some time thinking about your audience.
If your live content doesn’t serve your audience, what are you doing it for?
If it’s not something that will add value to their lives, either through entertainment or information, they’re not going to have a good experience.
Before you start planning your live content and figuring out where to publish, ask yourself a few questions:
- Who are my existing customers?
- What content do they engage with the most?
- What are they asking for?
- What kinds of content do they watch on other channels or accounts?
- What kind of customers do I want to attract?
- Where do those people hang out? What do they engage with?
2. Plan Your Content
Now that you know who you’re making content for, and what they like, you can finally start brainstorming.
Depending on what you’ve discovered about your audience, here are some ideas:
- Answer FAQs
- Give a tour of your office or warehouse
- Unbox a new product or subscription box
- Walkthrough one of your processes (i.e. choosing colors for a new line)
- Invite a few team members to join you and answer questions
- Share live music or a live performance
- Show your bakers, cooks, or baristas making the treats/food/drinks
- Style a few looks
- Guide viewers through a tutorial
- Draw winners for a giveaway live on camera
- Interview an expert
- Share your knowledge about a specific topic
- Share your thoughts on industry news or changes
- Walkthrough an event and show off cool things you see and cool people you meet
- Host a quiz or trivia night (bonus points if there are prizes for correct answers, or quickest answers, etc)
- Play a game (gamification is it)
- Do a challenge with yourself, an expert, or employees
- Try something novel or interesting live on camera. Folks do this often with foods (think celebrities eating hot wings and answering questions)
- Take your viewers through a routine
- Host a talent show (this would be great for fundraising efforts)
- Do a live flash sale!
- Share some hacks you’ve learned from your years of experience
Hopefully, that list helps get your brainstorming muscles warmed up.
It’s one of our favorite things, so we’d love to help you figure out what to do for your first live.
Next, let’s look at how you’ll keep the live stream entertaining so people will stay and come back for the next one.
3. Create A Plan For Engagement
We’ve all seen the lives that are just disasters from start to finish.
We like watching those videos, not because we enjoy them per se, but because of how much we learn about what NOT to do.
One of the items we notice streamers struggling with the most is keeping their audience engaged, on the video, and excited for more.
In order to avoid awkward or dead air time, and decrease the chances of you fumbling for a transition or new question…
…create a plan for engagement.
This can look however you want it to look, but here are some ideas to get you started:
- Outline your live with bullet points and estimated time for each portion of the stream.
- List out engaging questions you’ll ask and timing guidelines. You don’t have to follow this exactly, but it can be hard to improvise on the fly so having prepared questions works well.
- Have someone there to help moderate comments, and don’t be afraid to kick people out!
- Keep your stream a nice place for yourself and your viewers.
- Save viewers questions to answer toward the end of your live stream or for a few pre-planned times throughout, to avoid getting distracted and your stream feeling disjointed.
4. Choose The Right Place To Go Live
There are a bunch of different options for live streaming. We’ll briefly cover some of those today and why they may be a good fit for you.
Don’t take too long worrying about which of the best social media platforms you should start on.
You’ll be able to expand as you go, and you’ll have more resources and viewers.
There are so many different options for streaming platforms, from B2B enterprise tools to free social media networks.
We’ll cover the most popular options that are easily accessible to small businesses, which include:
Let’s get started!
a. YouTube Live
Yes, you can go live on YouTube!
YouTube brought video to the Internet as we know it. So since YouTube introduced live video, it has become a popular choice.
This is a great option for small businesses because YouTube is easy to navigate, is probably something you’re already familiar with, and is popular.
If you’ve read any of our posts before, you’ve probably seen us say that YouTube is the second most popular search engine in the world.
That’s true! There are over 2 billion active users on YouTube, and YouTube videos show up in those Google search results.
After your live stream ends, the video is automatically saved and uploaded to your channel.
You can edit, add, or remove cards, end screens, and descriptions after the video is processed (which can take up to a few hours).
If you’re attempting to live stream for the first time…
…it’s important to know that YouTube will make you wait for 24-hours after you tap that “Go Live” button.
Here’s what you’ll see:
- Log into your YouTube account, if you’re not already, and tap the + camera button and choose Go Live.
- If you’re new to live streaming, you may get a walkthrough tutorial like this one.
- You’ll notice you have the option to go live now or to schedule it for later. We’ll choose Go Live now.
- If YouTube asks, you’ll want to allow permissions to your camera and microphone.
- Add your title (this should be a researched, SEO-friendly title that’s interesting!)
- Select privacy settings. If you’d like to schedule it for later, you can do so from this screen too.
- Say whether the video is made for kids or not.
- Click More Options to set the description. Use researched keywords to make it discoverable, select your category, and double-check that the camera and microphone being used here are correct.
- If you’d like to mess with advanced options you can do that here. We’ll skip those for now.
- When you click next, get ready for a quick photo for the thumbnail (that can surprise you if you’re not ready for it, so heads up!)
In our case, the stream couldn’t be created because of that holding time for new accounts.
If you get this message, it’s probably because you’ve never gone live before.
Let’s look at some of the options when you’re going live:
This option just uses your webcam (either built-in or attached), which makes it the easiest option for most beginners.
You can go live directly from your phone now. But, your channel needs to have at least 1,000 subscribers before this is available to you.
- Streaming with an encoder
This option is more advanced, and it’s a lot for a small business to deal with.
So, we recommend going with webcam and mobile until you’re more comfortable with live streaming and video production, in general.
If you want a more in-depth post that’s specifically about going live on YouTube (or any of the other platforms), let us know in the comments!
Did you know that you can go live directly in the Instagram app?
When you go live, your video will show in Instagram Stories for small businesses. And when the broadcast is over, you can share it on IGTV.
This is a nice choice if you’re not super comfortable with other platforms, or setting up an external mic and camera is not the journey for you.
Most camera phone quality is great for IG because your audience is most likely viewing on a small screen anyway.
So, the super high definition, crystal clear video that you see isn’t required.
Plus, you can shoot in the proper orientation without any extra work.
Here’s how you’ll go live from the IG app:
- Tap + at the top or swipe right anywhere in your feed. You’ll scroll to Live at the bottom.
- Add a title on the left and tap Add Title. Make it interesting and on-topic so folks will be intrigued and check it out.
- Tap the LIVE button at the bottom. You can see how many viewers you have at the top of the screen and see comments at the bottom.
You may be nervous about holding down a live stream all on your own, but did you know you can invite guests?
You used to only be able to go live with one other person but that has recently changed.
You also now have the ability to go live with up to 3 other people in a “Live Room”.
This is a super fun way to keep people engaged and find new audiences (each person will bring their audience with them).
You can also utilize Shopping and Fundraisers during your lives, so they’re powerful tools that you can use creatively.
You may be asking; “who would I ask to join my live?” Don’t worry.
As always, we have a bunch of ideas for you and a list you can take inspiration from.
This is by no means exhaustive, but here are some ideas to get the creative juices flowing:
- Employees who can chat about the company culture or new products
- Expert guests who can answer questions and discuss specific topics
- Collaborators like the designers of a new app or the leaders of an upcoming event
- The owner and their pet (pets do well on YouTube) giving company updates or a tour of the office
- Biggest fans who are rewarded for winning a prize or engaging with the account the most
Here’s how to start a live room in the Instagram app:
- Swipe left and choose Live Camera
- Add a title
- Tap the Rooms Icon to add your guests (up to 3)
Like on YouTube and Instagram, when you go live on Facebook, it’s native to the app.
You can save your live to reshare, so folks who missed out can watch it anytime.
Live videos get 10x more comments than regular videos and 3x longer watch time, so they’re worth the effort.
These are your live options on Facebook:
- Mobile via the Facebook app
- Mobile via the Creator Studio app
- From desktop via Live Producer
Here’s how you’ll go live from the Facebook app:
- Navigate to the Page, group, profile, or event where you want to publish your live stream
- Tap the Live button at the bottom of the post composer
- Add a description to your video. You can also tag friends, check in to a location, and add a feeling or activity
- Tap Start Live Video
- Tap Finish when you want to end your broadcast
From the Creator Studio app:
- Open the Creator Studio app
- Click the pen and paper icon in the top right corner of the Home or Posts tab
- Select the “Live” post option
- Add a description to your video. You can also tag friends, check in to a location, and add a feeling or activity
- Tap Start Live Video
- Tap Finish when you want to end your broadcast
Here’s how you’ll go live from desktop:
- At the top of your News Feed, click What’s on your mind, [Your Name]?
- Click the three dots icon, then click Live Video, and you will automatically be redirected to Live Producer
- Write a description for your live video
- Click Go Live in the bottom left
It doesn’t matter how you go live, you’ll have the choice to go live immediately or schedule your live for later.
When you choose the option to schedule for later, Facebook will automatically create 2 posts for you, and these are:
- An announcement post
As soon as you’ve scheduled your post, Facebook publishes an announcement to your page to let your followers know.
Folks who see the announcement can click “Get Reminder” for a one-time reminder notification before the stream begins.
- A live broadcast post
When it’s time for your live, Facebook will publish a post linking to the live stream.
Folks who asked for a reminder will get another notification directing them to the current broadcast.
Now you can go live in the TikTok app! This is an excellent choice if you’re already using TikTok and your audience is there.
Live videos can show up in new viewers’ For You Page (you’ll often see this abbreviated as FYP on TikTok), and will show to your existing followers.
In the app, TikTok live shows up as a preview and users tap to join.
When in the live, users can leave comments, send reactions, and even send money.
If you want to go live on TikTok, you need to have at least 1,000 followers and be over 16 years old. You’ll click Create and choose Go Live.
Then, like in other apps, you’ll add the title. Once live, you can add moderators, filter comments, flip the camera, and change effects.
Yes, LinkedIn allows live streaming, and we’re excited about it!
You currently have to apply to be approved for live video, but we’ll show you how to do that in a minute.
All live videos on LinkedIn are public and recorded.
After a stream is complete, your video will remain on the feed of your LinkedIn profile or Page as a video that was “Previously recorded live.”
You can delete it if you’d like.
To be eligible to fill out the form, you must have:
- 1,000 followers and/or connections, or be a page with over 500 members
- Already been posting original content to your LinkedIn profile
- Not been dinged by not following community guidelines
- This is currently not available to LinkedIn users in China.
After you submit the form, LinkedIn takes 3 to 4 business days to get back to you.
If you want a more detailed look at going live on LinkedIn, let us know!
We recommend starting on the platform with your most engaged audience.
Ideally, you’re already comfortable with the platform and will have an easy time creating content and publishing it.
5. Promote Your Live Stream In Advance
A Field of Dreams strategy isn’t really going to work here, even if you have the best live stream of all time planned.
You can’t build it, but you have to tell people where to go (and when) if you hope that they show up.
You may be able to get away with doing random lives in the future when people get used to what you produce and when you go live…
…but it’s not a good idea at the beginning.
So, where and how should you promote your live stream to make sure it’s not just you and the camera hanging out?
a. Send an email
If you have an email list, use it to cross-promote your live stream.
Send out an email a couple of weeks in advance and then follow it up a week later.
Send a reminder the day before and an hour before too.
Folks who have joined your email list have already told you they like you and want to hear more.
b. Post it on social media
Your social media followers will want to know and show support!
Create an event on Facebook or LinkedIn and share that event across platforms.
Ask for RSVPs, because Facebook and LinkedIn will remind attendees for you so you don’t have to worry about it.
You could also post in Instagram Stories and use the countdown sticker. Viewers can request a reminder by tapping on the sticker.
c. Utilize scheduling in advance
We love the fact that platforms are allowing us to schedule lives because it gives us so many options for promotion.
Be sure to use the links to pages or streams to tell the world what’s coming up.
d. Use those keywords in your title and description
If you’ve scheduled it in advance, your title and description can help you get found.
But, only if you’ve done the proper keyword research and planning.
e. Include a call-to-action
The very last thing you want to do is say goodbye to your audience and just leave them with nothing to look forward to or do.
If you do so, you risk taking the chance that they found something more interesting that grabbed their attention and they’ve already forgotten you.
Instead, we like to tell our clients to end a live stream using a couple of different methods:
- Encourage your viewers to follow your account
And then, tell them what they’ll get, like “follow me for weekly live streams like this one.”
- Ask for them to meet you somewhere else.
“That’s all I have for today, but I’m going to share some Stories with behind-the-scenes of that photoshoot I talked about a few minutes ago so watch for those!”
- Ask for engagement
“If you found this live stream helpful, leave a 2 in the comments. If you want to see more of these, tap the thumbs up so I know!”
- Let them know when the next live stream is
“Thanks so much for joining me today. I’ll be back at the same time, same place next Wednesday. In the meantime, send me your questions!”
6. Extend The Life Of Your Live Stream
Just like with every piece of content you create, you should consider how you’ll repurpose it and maximize its reach and effectiveness.
Live streams can make great content.
So if the stream went well, post it on YouTube, share it to your Instagram Reels and IGTV, and take clips to make shorter videos and graphics.
7. Send a follow-up email
If you have an email list, you’ll want to send a follow-up email for:
- thanking folks for joining,
- providing a recap of what you covered, and
- including a link to the replay.
You can shout out any funny or interesting moments too.
For example, like “my cat showed up and knocked something off my desk about halfway through so that was fun”, any special guests you had, and etc.
You should include links to the live stream, encourage them to subscribe, and let them know when the next one is so they don’t miss out.
Now that you know what live streaming is, and have some ideas for promoting your live stream and doing it well…
…let’s walk through setting up your first live stream.
Tips For Practicing Live Streaming
1. Set up a private group or account to practice on and only invite a couple of employees who are working on the project.
2. Practice taking questions live. How will they be delivered to you and how will you answer?
3. Have someone make a loud noise or knock something over randomly during your stream to prep for the unexpected.
4. Try a teleprompter or whiteboard with talking points so you can glance off-camera really quickly if you lose track.
So those are our tips for practicing live streaming, which brings us to the end of the post.
We know this was a long one – we had a ton to cover!
We hope we demystified live streaming for you and got your creative thinking going.
Our team of LYFE savers is here to help, so get in touch with us today to get started!