Live streaming is ALL the rage these days thanks to the heavy hitters of 2015 like Meerkat, Periscope, and now, Blab.
But live streaming is just getting started. The pathways of possibilities with these tools has only begun for marketers and business owners alike, and the best part is that anyone can be successful with it.
I started dabbling in live streaming on Social Media Day of 2015. Although I watched Meerkats and Periscopes, I hadn’t waded into the water. I remember the shock by the first Meerkat I watched – it was someone singing in their car, and when it went live, my initial reaction was to cover the camera on my phone. I felt like he could see me! Thankfully he couldn’t. But it seemed like I was privy to a very private moment.
However, the marketer in me started geeking out over with all the branding opportunities this medium presented for personal and professional brands.
This year I traveled to NYC and Minneapolis to work for clients to live stream events, and help to create an experience for the folks unable to join. The first conference was the PhotoPlus Expo in NYC. This event is the largest photography conference in the US, and it was impressive to say the least. Over 30,000 flocked to the Javits Center to enjoy the gorgeous displays of Canon, Nikon, and many more. And my job was to make that available to the folks unable to attend the conference, and amplify the brand I represented. I Periscoped photography classes, conference attendees, and keynotes like Jimmy Chin, who I could have listened to all day.
The second project was a tech conference called MobCon hosted annually by MentorMate, a leading Android/iOS mobile app development company that’s paving the way for mobile tech. This project was very different in that I was covering an event for the host, not as an attendee, and it made an enormous difference in how much control we had and what we were able to accomplish.
This knowledge is what I want to share with you because live streaming an event can be very lucrative for any brand. It will produce a LOT of content to be repurposed and used for social networks, it will extend the reach of your brand during the event, and will create experiences for those unable to join who may choose to do so in the future.
I could easily write several posts on all I learned during these projects, but for this purpose of this article, we’ll stick to the how-to’s. I’ll write follow-ups in the future.
So roll up your sleeves and start taking notes because if you want to do it right, it will take a lot more than flipping the switch on a Periscope channel.
How to Live Stream an Event
1. Define the live streaming goals.
Goals are crucial to every project, no matter how small or large. They will help you to stay focused on the bigger picture, and make planning easier. Live streaming an event is no different. You’ll want to be clear on exactly what you hope to do and the outcome of those actions.
Here’s a list of a few things to consider:
1. What is the main purpose of live streaming for this event?
2. What moments do I want to capture?
3. Will I be conducting interviews?
4. What equipment will be needed?
5. What kind of resources do I have for the venue?
6. Will I need help or assistance?
7. How will I backup the captured content?
8. Do I need to consider any private policies for speakers/attendees?
9. Which live streaming platforms will be used: Periscope, Meerkat or Blab?
2. Make a schedule for the event
With MobCon and PhotoPlus Expo, there was a speaking/event schedule published months ahead of the conferences, so I compiled a schedule for myself on what needed to be done and where once I defined my goals for the event.
Print out a copy of the event schedule and create one for yourself based on your goals. Things to take into consideration:
1. If you want to interview people – contact them ahead of time to ask for their permission and give them a head’s up. This ensures they’re ready to be on camera (key for the ladies) and displays professionalism.
2. Are there any time issues to work out ahead of time? Pinpoint all time disruptions and decide how to deal with them ahead of time, if possible.
3. What kinds of equipment will be most useful at this event? The tech gear used for MobCon was very different than PhotoPlus Expo because we had control of the space at Mobcon, and could choose where to host interviews or Periscope keynotes. If you know people who live stream events, it’s always a good idea to reach out and ask their opinion on the latest tech. Even if you don’t end up using it, you’ll have a good idea on what options are available.
4. Go visit the space ahead of time. This won’t always be possible, but the earlier you understand the layout of where the event will be held the better. I’m a visual person, so it’s very useful to me to know what space I’ll be working in ahead of time.
5. Set up ways to catch your live streaming outside of the the actual stream. If you’re using Periscope, set up a Katch account. If you’re Blabbing, you’ll want to record it. BUT it’s crucial to think about backups of your backups. At MobCon, we encountered a random technical issue during an interview with the conference’s favorite speaker, and we didn’t know it until it was too late. Instead of having an excellent 20 minute interview to share, we were only left with a little over 6 minutes. Talk about SAD! But it was a great lesson to always have an additional camera set up to capture interviews in case Periscope and Katch don’t work out. With Blab, you could use an app like Screenflow to capture what’s happening on your desktop. Bottom line, just like photography – have a backup for your backup.
6. Decide who you want to interview and get to know them. At Mobcon, I was responsible for interviewing several of the speakers, so I did a lot of research ahead of time on who they are as professionals and everyday people. I wanted to feel comfortable talking business, but also have the insight to refer to their personal interests during the interviews. This let them know I was genuinely interested in who they are as people. When you can reference something that isn’t common knowledge, it always brings a smile to their face. But bottom line, it’s professional to do your homework ahead of time and be prepared. In addition to research, write out your questions ahead of time, but know you won’t necessarily have to follow that line of questioning if an answer brings out another interesting concept. My best advice and something I learned at MobCon is to play off of my natural curiosity when interviewing someone. This gives the interview a natural feel instead of being scripted. BUT being prepared will allow the confidence to make those decisions.
3. Start promoting the live streaming online
Now that we’ve discussed the background work, it’s time to start promoting what you’re doing. The sooner you can get started ahead of the event, the better, especially if you have a small audience or haven’t been live streaming up to this point.
If you haven’t ever conducted a Pericope or Blab, you’ll definitely want to create an account and start promoting those channels across other social networks, email newsletters, blogs, and on your website. Utilize any channel you can to bring new followers to the account, and don’t be shy to straight up ask for it from your current followers. If you’re already providing value then they will want to hear from you in other places, and will be curious to see new things.
For the PhotoPlus Expo event, I was notified of that event a little over a week ahead of time, so there wasn’t much of a chance to promote what we’d be doing. But we created a Facebook ad, pushed the information out on multiple social channels, promoted the new Periscope channel, and conducted a Periscope the night before the event started at the brand networking event. However, with Mobcon we started a month ahead. Ryan did a few Periscopes leading up to the event, I did one, a blog was written, it was promoted on social networks, and in company emails.
The additional time with MobCon made a big difference in how much participation we had during the event. Even though it was still a relatively small audience, they were excited and engaged throughout the conference.
Finally, it’s key to utilize any contacts who are already on Periscope or Blab and ask them to promote your event and/or interview you about it. This is a great way to get promotional coverage without it being directly from your brand, which can make a huge difference. Pinpoint influencers you have relationships with and who would be interested in the type of event. It will be easier to get their support IF it’s something they’d naturally be interested in.
4. Share the event set up
The event setup is the part that happens before folks arrive.
If it’s a conference, you typically have a day of seats being arranged, equipment tests, etc. and this can be a fun and engaging way to kick off the live streaming. It will be the perfect time to test out all your equipment – mics, tripods, stabilizers, cameras, etc – and give the audience behind-the-scenes access to setting up the event.
A few things to consider:
1. What equipment needs to be tested?
2. Where is the best place to set up equipment during the event?
3. Where is the best lighting for interviews (if you’re conducting them)?
4. What is the quality of sound with and without additional mics?
5. Are there places to leave additional equipment?
6. WHERE will you charge up?
It’s NOT sexy to run out of batteries mid-stream or mid-interview, so take every precaution to avoid it. At MobCon, we had an additional charging panel installed beneath our seats where we worked throughout the event to charge our phones and laptops. But both of us were amply prepared with additional chargers if need be. At one point, I had a charger hanging off my phone to keep it charged during a Periscope because the outlet was too far.
Bottom line, be as prepared as possible ahead of time. Leave nothing to the imagination if you can help it.
5. Ready, set, action! Now that you’ve done all the work, it’s go time!!
My best advice is:
1. Get lots of rest and be hydrated for the event. You’ll be anxious and that’s normal, but if you’re rested and taking proper care of yourself, you’ll deal with the stress effortlessly.
2. Make a decision ahead of time that you will go with the flow, regardless of what happens. No matter how much you plan and measure ahead of time – there’s going to be plenty that won’t work out. And that’s okay! At MobCon, we wanted to a lot more than we had time for. While that may upset some people, the way I view it is that we’ll have more surprises to pull out of the bag for the next conference.
3. Print out all your materials and be prepared. Take the conference schedule, your schedule, and speaker questions with you. Also, prepare titles for the live streaming ahead of time, so you can copy and paste them without hurry.
4. Have fun!! I had a blast at PhotoPlus Expo and Mobcon, and even though not everything worked out according to plan, I was able to enjoy them because the work was done ahead of time.
There’s a TON of information I’m leaving out, but that simply means you’ll need to come back!
Live streaming an event is much more about the background work than the actual on site work, so do your research, nerd out with schedules and tech, and make sure you’re prepared because when the day comes – you should enjoy it! Similar to cooking – when it’s prepared with love, it melts in your mouth. But when it’s prepared by a stressed out or anxious person – it won’t be enjoyable.
But now I want your opinion – Have I left out anything?