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A Comprehensive Guide to Social Media Live Streaming

Ashley Kimler

Ashley Kimler

GUEST POST

Social media is one of the best places to generate new leads, engage with your followers, and turn them into loyal, dedicated customers.

The best thing about social media is that there is so much you can do with it – including live streaming. 

Indeed, social media live streaming has grown in popularity in recent years, with more freelancers and businesses taking advantage of it to connect with their followers, nurture relationships and increase their conversions. In fact, the number of people who use social media is projected to increase to almost 4.41 billion in 2025.

In this article, we’ll be taking a look at all you need to know about social media live streaming, including what equipment you need to invest in, and the key tactics you need to employ.

Should You Live Stream on Social Media?

Live streaming is important because it gives you a chance to engage and interact with your followers in a way that no other medium offers. For example, you can talk directly with your followers, they can ask you questions and you can provide answers all in real-time. 

Moreover, they can interact with you and each other in the comment section during your stream. 

Not just that, but live streaming puts a human face to your brand. It shows everyone who you are (the person behind the brand) and creates a level of authenticity that a pre-recorded, scripted and heavily edited video can’t. It’s real. 

Live streaming also gives you a better chance to know your audience better. You can ask them questions, solicit feedback, and exchange ideas. 

Lastly, especially when you live stream on Facebook, those who comment on your stream can catch the attention of their friends who may also see it. This created word-of-mouth publicity and can increase your reach. 

Equipment You Need to Live Stream

One of the best things about live streaming is that it doesn’t have to cost you your entire budget before you can get started. Some brands even live stream directly from their iPhones with no equipment at all. Indeed, how professional or slick your streams depend on your audience, your brand, and your message.

Here is some equipment you might want to invest in: 

  • A microphone – Sound quality is so important on a live stream. If your audience can’t hear you, or if you sound too fuzzy/tinny, they will switch off. 

  • A tripod – While you could look and talk directly into your handheld iPhone, you’ll have greater flexibility if you invest in a tripod that allows you to sit at a distance and chat with your audience. 

  • Lighting equipment – Good lighting equipment will give your streams a more polished, professional aesthetic that could enhance your views and engagement.

Choose Your Channels 

Where do you want to host your live stream? 

Well, you’ve got a few channels to choose from:

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • YouTube
  • LinkedIn

Let’s break each one down a bit more to see who they’d be useful for.

Facebook

Facebook is one of the biggest social media sites in the world. In fact, as of May 2021, Facebook accounted for nearly 71.8% of all social media site visits in the United States. It’s also super useful for live streaming because live videos generate 3x more engagement than pre-recorded videos. 

You can go live either from a group, business page, or directly from your personal FB page (just type in a post and press “go live”). Your followers will receive a notification when you start.

Facebook is a great place to go live as depending on the industry your business is in, it’s very likely that a great deal of your audience follows you there. You can also run Facebook ads to promote your live stream. 

Instagram

If you’ve got a good amount of followers on Instagram, going live on this platform is a great idea. Overall, the average engagement rate for brands on Instagram increased in 2020 by 6.39%, from 1.09% in 2019 to 1.16% in 2020. With most of your clients/customers likely checking their IG at least once a day. 

You can also use the comment moderation option to encourage community interaction, while the media sharing button lets you share extra images on the screen. You can also send your live videos to your followers’ inbox for extra engagement.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn now allows brands to live stream on its platform. It’s ideal if you run a business and want to connect with your clients or potential employees via – for example – a Q&A session that introduces people to your brand and what it is that you do.

In order to live stream on LinkedIn you must fill in an application form first, which you can find here.

Once you’re approved, you will then need to register a 3rd party broadcasting tool. 

YouTube

YouTube is one of the best platforms to stream live on. You can stream on mobile, webcam, and encoder, and you can moderate comments in the chatbox to encourage a real community feel. Not only can you interact with your audience, you can also earn revenue on live streams by enabling ads and using Super Chat. You can pre-roll ads before your stream goes live too and even ad mid-roll ads during your stream. 

YouTube also automatically archives your live videos for future viewing. 

Like LinkedIn, there are one or two hurdles to get over before you can live stream on YouTube. You need to register your account for live streaming, and it can take 24 hours before you’re approved. There are a few terms and conditions, too. For instance, you can’t stream from your mobile unless you have at least 1,000 subscribers. 

Live Streaming Tactics

Now that you know what equipment you need and what channel to go live on, let’s explore what are some of the best tactics to hold a successful live session. 

Have a Reason For Going Live 

While it’s important that you live stream for a number of reasons, you still need an overarching purpose. 

In other words, what do you want to achieve? 

When you know what your goal is, you can then focus your live stream so that it’s coherent and consistent with your message. 

For instance, you might go live to raise brand awareness or you might go live to nurture your relationship with your audience. Or maybe you want to educate them on a certain topic, in which case you might put together an educational “how-to” stream. 

Plan an Outline

A live stream might have all the makings of “winging it”, but this really isn’t the case. While there’s no editing involved, brands don’t usually live stream on the spur of the moment. Instead, they put together an outline so that they know exactly what content they’ll be discussing. If you don’t do this, you run the risk of running off-topic and steering away from your goal. 

So prepare an outline beforehand. List the talking points you want to discuss so that you don’t encounter moments of “brain fog” where you’re not sure what to say/do next. While you don’t need to script your stream, structuring it will help a lot. 

Add a Call-to-Action 

A live stream is potentially all for nothing unless you add a call to action in there. It’s always a good idea to give your audience something to do once the video is over – whether that’s to download an item, enter a contest or follow a link. 

Make sure to sprinkle your CTA throughout your live stream. You can mention it at the start, in the middle, and at the end. 

Promote, Promote, Promote!

Live streaming will be a non-starter if people don’t know about your stream. Unlike a video or a blog post that people will watch or read at any time, you’d rather have as much engagement in real-time. People need to be watching you from the moment you click “Go Live”. 

The best way to attract eyeballs is to promote the heck out of your stream beforehand.

Here are some tips:

  • Schedule your live stream
  • Post your planned live stream, along with the exact date and time, everywhere (on all your channels)
  • Run a Facebook and Instagram ad
It’s also a good idea to host a “pre-show” before your live stream. You could shoot the breeze with your audience a few minutes before the real show starts so as to give people time to arrive. This ensures fewer people miss out on the meat of your content. 

Leverage Influencers 

You don’t need to live stream alone. Instead, you could partner up with someone in your niche and create a joint live stream.  The idea behind this is that you’re not just generating traffic from your own social media profiles – you’re also generating traffic from someone else’s profiles, too. This will increase your reach, engagement, and potential client base.  For example, you could host an interview with an influencer or a Q&A session. 

Interact

A real asset of a live stream is the fact that it allows you to interact with your followers in real-time. As such, it’s really important that you don’t overlook this.  Once you’re streaming, don’t simply talk to your audience. Instead, invite discussion. Ask them to leave comments, encourage feedback and say hello to people. Jump into the comments, too, and read some out. Otherwise, you may as well pre-record a video. 

Go Live Consistently 

When you go live consistently, your followers will know they need to keep checking your social profiles so that they don’t miss out. People will get used to you going live and it could become a part of their routine. Moreover, it’s one of the best ways to generate an online community around your brand.  Also, social platforms like IG will automatically notify your followers that you’re about to go live. The more you do this, the more your live audience will grow over time. 

Simulcast

If you’re worried that live streaming from just one platform will cause you to miss out on a huge chunk of potential viewers, you could simulcast to numerous channels.  Using any custom RTMP real-time messaging protocol, you’ll be able to live stream from one location, such as Vimeo, to multiple other platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, and more. This means your whole following will be able to watch you regardless of which channel they use.

Final Thoughts 

Social media live streaming has multiple benefits as we’ve seen. And while it requires a lot of planning and work, it’s an excellent way of building relationships and increasing leads and conversions. You will, of course, need to practice beforehand so that you’re able to go in there with confidence and panache, and address your audience in a way that’s familiar, authoritative, and engaging.

Ashley Kimler is the founder of CopyNoise. She’s been working remotely in the tech space since 2014. Interested in getting her advice on your blog? She’s always looking for the opportunity to share her perspective with new communities! Follow @ashleykimler on Twitter to see what’s new.

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