Live video commands the attention of the business world.
Projections show that live streaming will be worth a staggering $70.05 billion by 2021.
Unlike ever before, people have a means of interacting with their favorite brands. They can do this at the exact moment that those brands are reaching out.
This means that potential customers can (and often do) direct the action.
Here’s the good news:
You can use live video to engage your customers at the starting price of $0.
So, what’s stopping you from jumping in and using live video, too?
If you’re like most beginners, you’re stuck on choosing which platform is best for your needs. Luckily, live video is versatile, and most platforms are quick and easy to set up.
You can use Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Periscope, or a variety of other platforms.
Your platform of choice will largely depend on your target audience. Once you choose your platform, live streaming is simple. You’ll be crushing video in no time.
And I’m happy to teach you how. But first, you need to understand a little bit about how live video works.
What is live video?
Video content has proven itself to be some of the most compelling content on the Internet in 2018.
In fact, projections show that video will account for 82% of all web traffic by 2021.
Live streaming taps into a uniquely human affinity for sharing and storytelling.
But what differentiates regular video from live video?
Live video is video that a user broadcasts live to an audience of real people engaging in the same exact space.
The hook is that, instead of it being like TV or similar broadcasted video platforms, this iteration of live video goes through social media.
And on social media, people can have an active conversation with the broadcaster.
Live video streams are commonly buzzing with comments and discussions that build a feeling of kinetic energy.
To be a part of the action is to be included.
This not only allows brands to create more authentic connections with customers, but it also gives them meaningful insights into what customers really want.
The combination of live video and social media access spurred an eruption of public interest
over the past year.
After Facebook launched its iteration of live video, each major social media platform released its own live video feature.
And Facebook Live is still the preferred platform for watching live streaming video.
YouTube Live and Instagram trail just behind Facebook.
Keep in mind that some live video platforms are better for certain things than others. You want to target the one that gives you the most utility for your needs.
If you think that live video is just a fad that’s going to die out when the “next big thing” comes along, you’re wrong. Live video is the next big thing, and it’s here to stay.
Don’t ignore live video’s exploding popularity
According to Recode, more than 500 million people are viewing video on Facebook every single day.
And in four years, 80% of all consumer Internet traffic will be Internet video traffic.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Pro gaming is an entire industry that thrives on live video, and it’s booming. And that’s just one industry that drives the popularity of live video!
According to Buffer’s 2018 State of Social Report, 96% of businesses use Facebook, 89% use Twitter, 70% use LinkedIn, another 70% use Instagram, and 57% are active on YouTube.
Of these businesses, 85% plan to create even more video across their social accounts than they did the year before.
As if that wasn’t enough, 95% of brand executives think that live video is the key to training, engaging, and communicating in 2018.
If you choose to ignore the importance of live video, your competitors are going to leave you in the dust. Now is the time to choose a platform and get started.
Choosing the right video outlet is vital to the success of your marketing mix this year. But it shouldn’t be too hard to find one that will work for you.
Developers have had time to smooth out most of the live video platforms, which means that they’re easy for both businesses and customers to use.
For example, Facebook live offers a built-in notification system that notifies users when a page that they’ve liked “goes live.”
If you want to expand your reach and gain exposure for events or product launches, this is a great feature.
Your posts and ads won’t get lost in a sea of status updates. Streaming brings customers straight to you instead.
But how are people interacting with streaming video as a whole? And how are brands specifically using it?
How are people interacting with live video?
Brands aren’t the only ones using live video. Ordinary people use live video on each and every one of the social media platforms that offer it.
Like with videos and photos, social media users are leveraging live video feeds to share their own stories.
It’s more personal than a typical, all-text post.
Because live video allows you to share content in real time, many businesses have taken advantage of the free-flowing nature of the medium to create experiences that wouldn’t work anywhere else.
The people who engaged with this video were watching Kohl’s models work out live.
If it weren’t live, the event would have looked like a basic, obvious infomercial. But because it was fully interactive, 37,000 viewers got to experience it together.
That’s virtually impossible when it comes to television ads unless it’s Super Bowl Sunday.
80% of people would rather watch live videos from brands than read their blog posts while 82% prefer live videos from brands over regular social posts.
Here’s the bottom line:
Live video is ideal for human interaction.
It brings people out of their shells on Facebook, for instance, where broadcasts receive 600% more engagement than regular posts.
Brands, influencers, and regular users can all access live video to share the most interesting parts of their days.
So can you.
Live video brings traffic to your business
With Facebook Live, customers can literally engage with you in real time.
You’re able to address viewers by name, which boosts active engagement and participation.
To put it simply, live video allows brands to “break the fourth wall” between them and their customers.
Search Engine Journal found that their live video posts on Facebook like SEJ News Live receive more attention than their regular updates.
In fact, their live videos packed an engagement punch that was 178% higher than the average engagement on their regular posts.
Over two months, live video increased the brand’s referral traffic by 213%.
And with live video, customers are always in the loop about events whether they’re serious or outlandish.
For example, back in 2016, BuzzFeed held their audience’s attention for 45 minutes while two employees were putting rubber bands around a watermelon until it “blew up.”
Even though it was a rather silly event, the suspense of the live broadcast kept the audience watching.
The content wouldn’t have been as interesting if BuzzFeed had posted it on their social media accounts as a regular video. The fact that it was live created a sense of community for viewers.
Viewers waited for the watermelon to pop together. While waiting, they speculated on the number of rubber bands it would take for the fruit to reach its breaking point.
Live video also helps influencers because they can learn exactly what viewers are interested in talking about.
Influencer Brian Fanzo advises creating a strategy for live video ahead of time but keeping things flexible.
Here’s what he told Convince and Convert:
“I was giving a tour behind the scenes with the goal to make the streaming a ‘backstage pass’ event, when several viewers started asking questions about my new Samsung phone.”
He switched gears and started talking about technology with viewers since that’s where participants wanted to take the conversation.
You have to be willing to go with the flow.
If you work with an influencer on live video campaigns, both the host and your brand will be able to access the wants, needs, and desires of your audience more authentically.
Tons of brands are finding huge success by broadcasting recurring live videos.
Consider HelloFresh, for example. The brand hosts a live, interactive cooking show where their customers cook along with the host. They get tips from professional chefs and immediate answers to their questions.
This helps viewers improve their cooking skills and prepare tasty meals with help from an expert.
Viewers can find the Facebook Live Cooking Party series on the HelloFresh Facebook page.
And HelloFresh isn’t the only big brand utilizing live video for all it’s worth. In March of 2018, Nissan live streamed the reveal of their new 2019 Altima.
But you don’t have to limit live streaming to simple product launches.
You could live stream a Q&A like the developers of the popular game Hearthstone did back in June of 2017.
Pepsi got creative by partnering with Nature Conservancy and using the power of live streaming to protect watersheds nationwide.
The possible uses for live video are virtually endless. The technology opens all kinds of doors, and it’s here to stay.
One reason that you can count on live video continuing to grow in popularity is that it’s a great tool for SEO.
Consumers are eager for more content from the brands that they follow, but as many as 80% of them say that they would prefer to consume live video to blog posts.
And since most platforms notify users about live content in their feeds, they don’t have to look very far to find it.
If you launch a live video and don’t have many viewers at first, don’t get discouraged too quickly.
Let’s say that you host a small event and decide to live stream it. When you first go live, only 15 people are watching it. That might not seem like many viewers.
But while you’re live, some viewers might post the video to their page and ask their friends to watch it. The longer you’re live, the more people will continue to share the video.
Who knows? You could end up racking up a total reach of thousands of people from one live stream.
To sweeten the deal, you don’t need a huge marketing budget to broadcast live video.
In fact, it’s possible to share an effective live video on pretty much every platform without spending a single dime.
Here’s how to choose the live video platform that works best for you and start using it.
How to choose a live video platform and get started
When it comes to live video, the options are (almost) limitless.
If you’re not sure which platform to go live on, keep reading. I’ll walk you through some of your options.
Facebook has the largest user base out of all social platforms, which makes it a great place to stream video. Practically all of your family and friends are already on there.
If you go live on Facebook, you’ll have a greater chance to boost online visibility and reach than you will with other platforms.
And going live on Facebook is easy. It’s arguably easier than any other platform out there.
From the app, start composing a regular status update like you normally would.
From an iOS device, a list of options will appear below the text field.
Tap on “Live Video.”
Then hit “Continue.”
Now, you’re almost ready.
The steps are similar on an Android device. Hit “Go Live” and “Continue.”
Enter in a title for your live video explaining what you plan to talk about (or where you’re broadcasting from) and choose a privacy level.
For the widest reach, select “Public.”
When you’re live, your followers will receive a notification.
You’ll be able to see how many people are currently viewing your video, what their comments are, and how they’re “reacting” to it.
You can also comment on your live video and pin comments to the post. Once you finish broadcasting, Facebook will save the video to your profile.
Like Facebook, Instagram will notify your followers once you decide to go live.
Your video won’t automatically upload to your profile, but you do have the option to upload it to your story for 24 hours after you record it.
To start a live video on Instagram, tap the camera icon at the top left of your screen. You can also swipe right from your news feed.
Tap “Live” at the bottom of your screen and select “Start Live Video.”
You’ll be able to see the number of viewers you have at the top of the screen, and comments will appear at the bottom.
If you want to add your own comment, you can tap and hold it to pin it to the top of the page for all of your viewers to see.
When you finish your live stream, hit “Save” for a copy of your post that you can add to your story.
Twitter live video works a bit differently than Facebook Live or Instagram.
Periscope, Twitter’s live video app, powers it. However, you don’t have to set up a Periscope account to use the feature through Twitter.
To get started, tap the button that you would normally press to create a new tweet.
From there, tap “LIVE.” Once you’re ready, start your video.
Viewers who see your live post on their timelines can watch, comment, or send hearts.
You can see how many people are watching your content and post your own comments in the stream.
Over 2 million active users are on Periscope, and users stream 350,000 hours of video on the platform every single day.
Out of all members, 24% say that they use the platform at least once a week. 20% of them use the service several times every day.
To use Periscope, you can download and launch the app from the App Store (using an iOS device).
Next, sign in.
After confirming your settings, tap on the camera icon at the bottom.
Select the buttons for camera, microphone, and location.
If you’re accessing Periscope on an Android device, tap on the camera icon at the bottom right of your screen.
Then, write a title that describes what you’re going to broadcast. From there, select who you want to share your live video with.
You can manage your location and chat settings or tweet your stream by using the three icons above the “Go LIVE” button.
Once you’re ready to go live, tap “Go LIVE.”
Click “Stop Broadcast” to quit recording.
YouTube Live has experienced a slower rollout than other platforms, which is kind of ironic since most people think of YouTube as the original online video service.
But YouTube is still the top video marketing platform.
In 2017, YouTube first opened up mobile live streaming to all users with 10,000 or more subscribers. They later decreased the required number of subscribers to 1,000.
Though that still means that not everyone on the platform can use this feature, channels that are relatively small can still take advantage of the opportunity to share live video with their subscribers.
To go live from the Android or iOS app, click the camera button in the upper right-hand corner of the screen. Then, click “GO LIVE.”
From here, you’ll be able to enter in a title for your stream, select your privacy options, and take a cover screenshot for your broadcast.
Once you’re officially live, you’ll be able to see how many viewers you have. You can also see the comments that viewers have posted on your stream and the number of “likes” your video has received.
The designers of Twitch originally created it for streaming video games, but you can now use it to stream everything from talk shows to regular live “vlogs.”
Twitch is a unique streaming outlet since partners and affiliates can monetize live streams on the platform.
Anyone can become a Twitch partner or affiliate. Members can receive donations from viewers and earn 5% of any game sale revenue that comes from referrals from their profiles.
Partners also get access to video ads, custom emoticons and badges, paid subscription options, and more.
In short, people are making a full living off of streaming on Twitch alone.
If you want to go live on Twitch, you’ll need to create an account first.
Once you’ve done that, choose “Dashboard” from the drop-down menu in the top-right corner of the screen.
If you want to stream a game, select it under the “Playing” tab.
Next, enter a title for your broadcast, and you’re ready to stream.
In the next few years, live video will be a booming industry worth more than $70 billion.
The majority of marketers plan to create more video in 2018 than any other form of content.
Most people would rather consume live video from brands than read blog articles.
And it’s not just a fad. Video is here to stay.
Video content motivates people from around the world to connect in real time with one another and the brands they love.
Live video brings traffic to your business, creates engagement, and holds the attention of your viewers. Plus, streaming live video is free.
But it can be hard to choose the streaming platform that’s right for you.
Facebook Live is a great platform if you’re just getting started. Plus, it has the highest number of monthly users. It’s a great go-to option if you’re new to live streaming.
But you have lots of other platforms to consider. Instagram, Twitter, Periscope, YouTube, and Twitch are all great options, too.
At the end of the day, you’ll want to utilize the platform that most of your target audience is using. You may even want to stream on more than one of them if your audience is spread out between them.
No matter where you go live, be sure that you set your privacy to public so that all of your followers can view your stream.
How will you take advantage of live video in 2018?
About the Author: Neil Patel is the cofounder of Neil Patel Digital.