The past year has seen incredible development in the live streaming video space. An area once dominated by Google+ Hangouts and Livestream, is now flooded with new apps and platforms (Meerkat, Periscope, Blab) and old (Facebook Live). (Updated with new developments from Facebook & YouTube.)
Regardless of which platform you’re familiar with, hopefully by now you’ve begun to experiment with how live streaming video might be incorporated into your business
If not, well, that’s what I hope to accomplish with this post. You’ve no doubt been told that businesses today must incorporate video into their marketing strategy and toolbox.
This article will help you understand how.
For the purposes of this article, we’re looking strictly at ‘live streaming’ video apps, which excludes recorded or limited video like Vine or Instagram. We are also going to focus on the platforms that are designed to be a form of social network, meaning that you can begin to grow and engage with an audience on that platform, so that excludes solutions like LiveStream or GoToWebinar.
Google+ Hangouts On Air (https://hangouts.google.com/) – While there were live streaming video options prior to Hangouts, it’s safe to say that the release of Hangouts On Air marked the dawn of the current Live Streaming age. With Hangouts, suddenly it was relatively easy not only to broadcast video, but to bring others into the broadcast on the fly. You can schedule a Hangout or start one on the fly, bring in up to 9 other people, and your broadcast is simulcast to YouTube where it can be downloaded or embedded.
YouTube Live Events (https://www.youtube.com/live_dashboard) – As an alternative for those who wished to broadcast live video, but didn’t want to use Hangouts, YouTube provided Live Events.
YouTube is also in the process of rolling out live streaming from its mobile app.
Meerkat (http://meerkatapp.co/) – (UPDATE: Meerkat is no longer focused on live broadcast streaming.) The darling of 2015’s SXSW Conference, Meerkat’s appeal was the ease at which an individual could broadcast live from their smartphone. Individuals, and the individual video broadcast, was suddenly front and center. Meerkat was initially highly integrated with Twitter, until Twitter cut off most of the features in favor of…
Periscope (https://periscope.tv/) – Within months, Twitter’s project “Periscope” came to fruition. Like Meerkat, Periscope is centered around the broadcast of the individual, and the close integration with Twitter makes it a strong platform. With tight Twitter integration, your Periscope streams can actually be viewed live in someone’s Twitter stream.
Blab (https://blab.im/) – Building on the idea of group participation from Hangouts, Blab is designed to bring together up to four broadcasters simultaneously. The ease at which individuals can come and go from a blab, and the ease of use of the platform overall, have made it extremely popular and fast-growing. Blab is also highly integrated with Twitter for sharing and promoting.
UPDATE: As of August 12, 2016 Blab has been shut down. Founder Shaan Puri said that the company is now 100% focused on their new project (Bebo) and that they can no longer sustain resources to keeping Blab up and running. He cited two main issues with the platform: 1) Most live streams suck, and 2) Most users weren’t using the platform to create content every day. While Blab was fantastic for broadcasters, that wasn’t Shaan’s mission, and he said he’d rather fail at his mission than succeed at someone else’s. The service was closed without warning or alternative, which means that all accounts and recordings have simply ceased to exist. Those who have developed an audience there have no choice but to start over elsewhere.
Facebook Live (https://www.facebook.com/) – The latest addition to the live streaming collection, Facebook Live is integrated into Facebook’s mobile experience. Now, any of the 1.65 Billion users can choose to share a live video stream as easily as sharing a status update or image.
Facebook has also announced that Live video broadcasters will be able to schedule broadcasts and invite one other quest onto the video stream.
While there may be additional platforms which offer live streaming video (like Tumblr, which just announced the feature), the above represent the current mainstream options. And the idea of using a mainstream platform is important for developing an audience.
As other platforms emerge or mature (or fade away), I’ll be sure to edit the above list accordingly.
Fortunately, the required equipment list to use live video and these platforms is relatively short.
- Laptop with built-in camera or a Smartphone
- Good Internet access
- Selected apps from above and a profile (i.e. Blab for iOS)
While a computer or smartphone with Internet access to stream is technically sufficient, if you want to use the video for business and have a great impact on your audience, you’re going to need to step up your game a bit.
First, avoid using your smartphone for group video sessions like Blab or Hangouts. It won’t provide the requisite quality and performance.
Second, invest in a good HD camera. I use the Logitech C920 which was $65.98 from Amazon (not an affiliate link). It clips to the top of my monitor and provides excellent video capture.
Third, invest in a good external microphone. I use the Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB Cardioid Dynamic USB/XLR Microphone which was $52.98 from Amazon (not an affiliate link). I also invested in a boom arm and shock mount so that it’s attached to my desk and can swing over to an optimum position as needed.
Fourth, have a good set of headphones handy. With a good external microphone, and proper positioning of your speakers, you can avoid feedback issues. But just in case, be prepared to at least pop in some earbuds so that the rest of the broadcast can proceed without echo or interference.
And most important, invest in good Internet access. Great download speeds are important, but even more critical is sufficient upload speeds. At least 1Mbps, preferably more.
1. Professional background; either a back drop or an interesting decor
2. Clear browser cache, shut down unnecessary programs and apps, making sure your computer is at optimum performance prior to each broadcast
3. Programs for video / audio recording / editing (this will vary with your OS and need)
4. Canva for custom branded graphics for scheduled events
Finally, for a more polished presentation, as well as additional import and broadcast options, consider using a desktop software like Wirecast or OBS Studio. You stream to multiple destinations, control cameras, add lower thirds and effects, and more. Ian Anderson Gray has a tremendous tutorial.
Using Live Video For Business
There’s no doubt that the most challenging aspect of incorporating video into any business is deciding what to do on video. Sure, you’ve got some decisions with regard to platform and format, but I think if you first consider how you will use video, the platform decision will be easier.
Traditionally, businesses use video as an alternative to blogging. In other words, instead of giving you all of this information in written form, I might simply talk about it in a video. I could film myself reading a script, or do a voiceover with slides and screenshots… Something like that.
A great example of this traditional style, and someone to follow for excellent overall video tips, is Amy Schmittauer of Savvy Sexy Social. She normally publishes 3 videos a week, each lasting just 3 – 5 minutes, in which she shares some ideas and recommendations to her target audience. Here’s an example.
Knowing that a typical explainer video uses about 150 words per minute, a 3 – 5 minute video is the equivalent of a relatively short blog post (450 – 750 words).
That’s great, but what if you want to produce longer videos and more content? A 30-minute video would need you to prepare a 4,500 word script, and unless you like to write like I do, that’s going to represent a significant challenge.
This is where the new live streaming apps have revolutionized video for businesses.
- Broadcast an event that you’re putting on or attending
- Launch a new product or service
- Interactive explainer video
- Interactive demonstration of your own product or service
- Interactive demonstration of someone else’s product or service
Those are nice, but they bely the real power of the medium. For that, you need to take things to the next level, such as:
- Interview one or more experts
- Host a discussion on a topic
- Interview one or more successful clients
- Help one or more clients
- Live Q&A or AMA (Ask Me Anything)
- Quiz Shows
- Online Classes
- News Show
In fact, the seminar approach is particularly fun for the multi-person networks since you can schedule a full day’s worth of broadcasts on a variety of topics which becomes a massive event. Like the Virtual Blogger’s Conference, where I’ve been a presenter the last two years.
Like any form of content creation, it helps to be consistent, both in quality and delivery. In other words, some of the best broadcasts occur on a regular schedule and have a very high production value.
Take, for instance, the Expert Interview format. You would identify one or more experts in your particular field, people who have really valuable information to share with your audience, and you would schedule a broadcast.
Before the live event, you would promote it so that your existing audience knows it’s coming and can plan to attend, and with any luck, the experts you rope in will do the same, bringing such events into the realm of Influencer Marketing.
You see, by bringing someone of greater expertise and influence onto your broadcast, you get to associate yourself with those individuals which has a potentially incredible impact on your audience. And if that influencer helps promote your event, that’s even better, as it puts you and your broadcast in front of their audience.
In July 2015, for instance, I scheduled a series of 4 Google+ Hangouts On Air. Each broadcast was focused on a specific topic of interest, and featured myself plus three established experts and influencers, starting with Guy Kawasaki. Frankly, these incredible guests made me look good, and they all helps to share and promote the events, leading to improved interest in the broadcasts.
(While it would seem like Blab and Hangouts might be ideally suited for multiple person broadcasts, the other platforms can work so long as you’re physically with the person you’re interviewing. The live streams that come out of the halls and side rooms of conferences today are a perfect example. I’ve also seen broadcast interviews where the interviewee was shared by directing the camera to a second screen and video call app, like Skype or FaceTime. But such a setup is far from ideal.)
You can do the exact same thing within your niche and area of expertise.
Suppose you’re a real estate agent. While video walkthroughs of homes are nice, that is only of interest to someone in the market for a home fitting that house’s criteria at that time. Once that house is off the market, that video is no longer of value to you.
What if, instead, you started to do regular video interviews with local home staging experts, designers, mortgage brokers and so on. Each broadcast could offer potential home sellers or buyers with really valuable information, and those videos would likely be timeless or evergreen.
Which leads us into our final topic.
Leveraging Live Video Events
We’ve reviewed the currently available live streaming video platforms. We’ve also gone over what you can use those platforms for, and the kinds of video events you might put on. But what do you do after the event? What are your options?
This kind of leveraging, or repurposing, is what will ensure that the videos you create will continue to benefit your business long after the initial event has ended.
1. Get The Source File
It starts with making sure that you have the raw video recording of the entire event. This is typically made available as an MP4 file that you can download to your computer. For Google+ Hangouts On Air, which are simulcast to YouTube, you can go into your Video Manager within YouTube and download the MP4 from there. Meerkat and Periscope and Facebook Live provide downloads to your smartphone, while Blab emails you links.
2. Upload To YouTube
For all of the platforms other than Hangouts, now’s the time to upload your video file up to YouTube. You can share it to other video platforms if you want or prefer, but with over 1 billion users, YouTube is generally the best option. You’ll want to make sure you use a great title and description to take advantage of YouTube search.
From here, it’s a bit of a Choose Your Own Adventure book, where you get to decide the direction and lengths you wish to go.
YouTube & Social Media Marketing
Once the event is over, you can share the YouTube video to other social channels to further extend viewership and reach. With a tool like Buffer or SocialOomph, you can make sure that they’re part of your normal social sharing routine.
You should also make sure that you have one or more playlists within your YouTube channel to organize your broadcasts appropriately.
You can pin videos to appropriate Pinterest Boards. You may also be upload the video directly to Facebook if it’s not too large.
I think at a minimum, you should embed the YouTube video onto a blog post. This puts the video into your own sales structure (website) and can help bring more traffic into your site. You can spend a few minutes drafting a brief introduction to the video, and then use the embed code that YouTube provides.
GROWTH HACK: While embedding YouTube videos will give that video more views, embedding a Facebook video is a really interesting option. If you embed the Facebook video onto a blog post, and a reader watches and Likes the video, they “bump” the video back into the news feed of their followers, potentially giving it greater visibility. Consider taking your videos from other platforms and uploading them to Facebook, and then embedding that post into your articles.
Take it a step further and include more details about the broadcast. For instance, I’ll often include biographies and links for my guest(s), as well as a bullet list of the main points or questions answered. This is also a great opportunity to include links to other posts and resources within your site, and a strong call to action for the viewer to do something after they watch the video.
Pull a few great quotes from the broadcast and use them for Click To Tweets, as well as future social shares.
You should also consider adding a full transcript of the video. There are lots of Fiverr gigs you can use to get a complete, time stamped transcript. The time stamps will be links directly to the relevant part of the video, and are great when you have a long broadcast covering lots of ground.
Hopefully you take my advice and embed the video into a blog post, which you would then email out to your subscribers. But that’s certainly not the only option.
If it makes sense, you can put the video directly into an email. If you do, be sure to mention that in the subject, like by adding [VIDEO] at the end, as that’s likely to increase Open Rates.
More intimately, each time you’re working with a prospect or customer, and there’s a question that was addressed in one of your broadcasts, you can refer to the video just as easily as you might link to a blog post as an additional resource.
You should also keep your broadcasts in mind when setting up auto responders. Whether someone’s signing up for your list, downloading an eBook you offered, or getting a series of emails you’ve crafted, there may be great opportunities to include one of your broadcasts that provides great information, and includes that Influencer angle we talked about earlier.
The great thing about a 30 minute video is that you’re likely to get a bunch of great 2 – 3 minute snippets out of it. And if people like Amy and Gary Vaynerchuk and others are putting out awesome 3 minute videos, that means you’ll be able to slice up a 30 minute interview and fuel 5 – 10 additional videos.
These videos could be the basis for additional blog posts, video ads, social shares, emails and more.
Vine and Instagram could be even better, where you can create 6 and 15 second loops. Pull a great quote or a funny sequence and turn it into a fabulous Vine that gets refined and looped over and over.
Speaking of quotes, be sure to note any great comments that you or guests make during a broadcast and then turn those into Quote Graphics.
Create a template within Canva that’s 900 x 900 and has your brand’s colors and style. Insert a great image of the influencer and add their quote.
Quote Graphics can be shared to Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and Instagram, as well as pinned to Pinterest. They can also be embedded on blog posts, which makes for great additional pins of your content. (While you can certainly pin images from your computer and then add a source URL so that the quote graphics are linked to your blog post, displaying those graphics on the blog post itself also encourages other people to pin them.)
Taking your repurposing in a slightly different direction, you might turn the video into a series of slides for a presentation.
Good presentations can be uploaded to SlideShare where they’ll reach an entirely different audience. Include some of those great quotes, and the major points discussed, along with screen grabs and interesting visuals.
Presentations can also be embedded onto blog posts, but if you’re already embedding the video, I find that to just be more clutter.
Finally, one of the ultimate repurposing of video content is when you take that content and turn it into a podcast.
Podcasts were initially audio broadcasts, much like radio shows, but were made available through iTunes. They’ve developed into incredible mediums for businesses to entrepreneurs to engage entirely different audiences.
The standard format for a podcast is to publish a new 30 minute episode on a regular schedule, usually weekly, though some go more or less often.
30 minutes, huh? Boy, doesn’t that sound familiar.
That’s right. You can take your 30 minute video interview, save the audio to a separate file, and upload that as a podcast episode.
For particularly high production value, let your video interviews go a bit longer so that you can edit and splice them to achieve the best possible 26 minutes. Then add a 2-minute pre-recorded introduction, 30 second “bumper” around the 15-minute mark that reminds your audience what they’re listening to (and perhaps mentions a sponsor), and an outro at the end that closes out the show, mentions your next guest and air date, and rounds out the full 30 minutes.
To wrap this up, I want to leave you with a final thought or two.
Video streaming platforms like Blab and Meerkat and so on are nothing more than social networks that happen to use video as a communication medium. The basic tenets still apply:
- Social Networks are about Being Social
- Social Media Marketing is about Helping Customers
So what does that mean exactly?
First, it means that your videos, and your engagement with others on these platforms, should be natural. Other words commonly attributed are “genuine” and “authentic.” The reason you might hear this said about social media all the time is because still, to this day, there are many businesses that don’t get that. Their social activity is all about themselves and getting a sale… But such activity is premature.
You don’t have to be the life of the party on social media, but recognize that it is a party and you have to assume first that people are there for fun, and then gauge their interest in talking about business topics.
Second, it means that the more you’re able to focus your activity on topics and tactics that are designed to be helpful to people, the more successful you will be.
When I started appearing on Google+ Hangouts On Air in 2013, I avoided doing or saying anything that might have come off as self-promotional. Even when asked, I would still prefer to give a shout out to someone else that I knew.
Instead, I focused entirely on providing as much useful and actionable information as I could, on whatever topic I was being asked to talk about. I made sure that I was familiar with the host of the show I was invited to be on, and their audience, so that I could adjust what I was teaching to suit them best.
And it worked! Not only was I asked to be on more and more broadcasts, from live HOAs and Blabs to pre-recorded podcasts, but there was a direct correlation between my increased guest appearances and increased leads for my business. The shows resulted in more exposure for me, and my strategy successfully positioned me as an approachable expert on the topics.
And that leads me to my final tip for you.
As you’re considering all of the above techniques and tactics and platforms for leveraging video, consider getting some practice in ahead of time. Start watching Blabs and Facebook Live broadcasts. Get to know the platform through commenting and engaging with the broadcasters and other viewers.
When you’re ready, get yourself into the hot seat, and start to gain real experience talking to a live video audience, and all of the nuance that such activity entails.
For most, hosting a live streaming video event will still be anxious, but if you’ve been a guest on other people’s shows, you will have a far greater idea of what to expect, and that will make the event a lot easier. (Trust me on this!!)
If you haven’t already, you can follow me on Facebook, Meerkat, Periscope, Google+, YouTube and Blab. I prefer to write, so I don’t personally broadcast a ton of video, but I am doing a series of monthly interviews on Blab, where I chat with some fantastic authors who have published incredible books on marketing. So be sure to watch for those.
And if you have any questions at all, be sure to leave them in the comments below.