While live streaming has been around for a while now, only in the last year or so has this particular form of online video become immensely popular. In fact, according to livestream, 81% of internet and mobile audiences watched more live video in 2016 than they did in 2015. Additionally, research from MarketsandMarkets predicts the video streaming industry as a whole will be worth around $70 billion by 2021. It should come as no surprise, then, that YouTube has recently upped its game to cater to this burgeoning interest in live video. The platform’s live streaming feature, which last year expanded to mobile devices for select users, has grown rapidly in popularity.
If your business has yet to experiment with YouTube Live for your video marketing purposes, you’d find no better time than right now. However, before you dive in blindly, you should make sure you’re following some of the best practices for this platform. Doing so will not only help you get the most return on your efforts, but also ensure you’re properly capitalizing on everything YouTube Live has to offer your brand.
For streams, you want to schedule in advance, instead select “Events,” which gives you the ability to preview your stream before it’s live, have backup redundant streams, and start and stop the broadcast at any time. Like impromptu streams, you will be able to fill in your title, add a description, and more. Scheduled streams can be up to 8 hours long, and their archived videos can also be set to private in your Video Manager.
On mobile, the process for going live is a little different. Users will load up the YouTube app on their phones, select the capture button, and click “Go Live.” They can then enter a title, take a small thumbnail photo, and edit various privacy, age restriction, chat, and promotion-based settings before starting their broadcasts, which are saved to the creators’ channels when the stream ends.
YouTube Live: 10 Tips and Best Practices!
Now that we’ve covered what YouTube Live is and how it works, it’s time to delve into some tips and best practices for the platform. Note that some of these suggestions only apply to the desktop version of Live vs. the mobile one, and vice versa; you should also be aware that as Live develops and grows, any of these best practices could end up changing. So staying on top of the latest news around YouTube Live will, of course, ultimately help your brand find success on the platform.
You’ll also want to test different live stream lengths and content types to see what most resonates with your audience. For example, in Tubular’s Q1 2017 State of Online Video report, gaming content ranked as the most successful type of live programming at 53%; technology (15%) and news and politics (12%) content is also popular with audiences. Depending on your brand’s industry and goals, see if you can’t incorporate these genres to help grow your viewership. To get the most out of your and your audience’s YouTube Live experience, follow these tips and best practices:
#1 Aim for Quality
This should go without saying, but you want to make sure your live streams are the highest quality (both visually and audibly) they can possibly be to provide your viewers with an enjoyable live experience. We’ll outline ways you can do this in more tips below; for now, keep quality at the top of your mind. Of course, a beautiful, problem-free live stream isn’t a guarantee, especially if you’re using the mobile YouTube Live option (thanks, wi-fi!), but that doesn’t mean you can’t take steps to ensure your broadcast is in the most tip-top shape it can be.
#2 Promote Early
If you’re not planning on doing an impromptu live stream, you can schedule one in advance via the “Events” option. This allows you to promote your YouTube Live stream far ahead of it actually going live. Using social media or your brand’s email newsletter, you can let your audience know when you’ll be broadcasting live. You can also create a live stream trailer to promote on your YouTube channel, in other YouTube videos, and across your social profiles. Finally, consider updating your channel art to promote the upcoming live stream.
#3 Use the Right Equipment
As part of your efforts to ensure your live stream is high quality, make sure you’re using equipment which can handle the broadcast. For example, you’ll need to have the following:
To use YouTube’s recommended settings for your live stream, check out this help article on which bitrates, resolutions, and encoder settings are best for your live stream. Note that broadcasts conducted through the “Stream now” option won’t require you to choose a bitrate as YouTube will automatically detect your encoder’s settings.
Also, make sure to provide information like metadata, title, thumbnail, description, and even closed captions if you want your stream to be found. Some of this is required, and is in your best interest to provide, anyway. However, the most important requirement to follow is clearing the rights to any third-party content (i.e. music, graphics, images, etc.) you might be using in your live stream.
#5 Plan Ahead and TEST
For pre-planned live stream events, it’s important to plan and test out all of your equipment to ensure streaming works the way you want it to. Some experts suggest testing at least two weeks in advance if you have the time; at minimum, you should test 24 hours before your live stream to ensure bandwidth quality, technical functionality, and redundancy. Test all video and audio settings and tools you plan to use in-stream for at least 30 minutes straight, and turn off any firewalls your computer may be running to ensure the best connection to the internet as possible.
Also, make sure you pick the right kind of streaming before you go live. As noted above, using the “Stream now” option gives you up to 12 hours of continual broadcasting, but the “Event” option is only 8 hours. Therefore, if you’re planning a live stream longer than 8 hours, you’ll need to use the “Stream now” option or your content won’t be saved past those 8 hours. Finally, keep in mind the YouTube Video Editor only allows editing of videos 3 hours or less, so if you want to be able to edit your livestream post hoc, you’ll need to keep it under that time frame.
As for mobile live streams, you should make sure you’re on the strongest internet connection possible before going live. To further prevent interruptions, try setting your phone to airplane mode, which should block incoming calls and texts that would interrupt your stream and draw your attention away from your live event.
#6 Include In-Stream Content
While you obviously have a reason to be doing a live stream in the first place, you want to make sure the broadcast is as engaging for your audience as possible, as well as growing your brand’s presence on YouTube. The easiest way to do this is by including in-stream content during your live event. For example, include both visual and verbal calls-to-action if you want to draw your viewers’ attention to a particular link or action, like asking them to subscribe to your channel. Just remember that if you use third-party content, you must have the rights to show or play it in your stream.
#7 Start Ahead of Time
Starting your live stream a few minutes early will enable you to check the integrity of the live stream and your equipment before getting started. You’ll also be able to send out final promotional social posts or emails to help generate more interest in your broadcast. If you enabled chat, starting early also allows users to jump into the chat screen and talk with each other before you officially dive into the content portion of your stream.
#8 Monitor Feedback
During the live event, make sure you’re paying attention to the chat box. Sometimes you may receive feedback to help you improve your stream, like a viewer telling you to move your microphone closer to your mouth so they can hear you better. If you’re not able to keep up with chat yourself, make sure other team members from your brand are available to help monitor and respond to users’ comments.
#9 Always Have a Plan B
If you’re unable to have two encoders for redundancy’s sake, and something with your live stream fails, you’ll need to have a plan B. In the case of a desktop-based live stream, you might have your laptop next to your desk computer to use as a backup, or you could opt for YouTube Live on mobile. If you’re live streaming via the mobile version, you may not be near a computer should your broadcast fail; however, you can do your best to move to a position with better wi-fi or make sure you have a mobile wi-fi device to keep your stream rolling.
#10 Capitalize on the Finished Stream
Hitting the “stop streaming” button doesn’t mean you’re done with your work. If you want to make the most of the broadcast you just conducted, consider adding it into a playlist of related content, or starting a new playlist solely for your live streamed content. You can also edit your stream and turn it into smaller highlight videos for distribution on your channel, or embedding on outside sites. Finally, make sure to promote your live stream archive and related clips via social media, your newsletter, or your website. Always keep in mind that while "Live Streaming On You Tube is great, doing pre-recorded events for your brand is still the real way to go. Live events is obviously exciting and allows for you to create urgency, interaction and other call to action but also mistakes can happen. I hope this helps and as always email me or hit me up on how FDMC can help you!
FDMC Social and Digital Media LLC
Roy has over 30 years experience in the broadcasting and marketing fields. He carries strong credentials in mass media, social media, advertising, marketing, public relations, and video production. Mr. Garton is also a professional actor and voice-over talent.
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