Last weekend I tried Facebook Live Video on the fly, attempting to broadcast my daughter’s violin recital to her grandparents (and hundreds of other unsuspecting Facebook friends). It did not go well. Lack of mobile connectivity caused the start time to lag, and by the time I got it up, I missed recording (and maybe more importantly just flat out missed) most of her performance.
This got me thinking: as popular as Periscope, Facebook Live Video, Hangouts On-Air and to a lesser degree Meerkat are (note that Meerkat is soon ditching the live streaming business), broadcasting a live video from a mobile device has the potential to go south quick.
What I want to do in this post is to take a look at five ways that you can improve the end-user experience of your live streaming content.
1. Make sure you have good connectivity
“If you lose connection while live, find a place with better signal” – Facebook Live Video best practices
Here’s one that I learned the hard way. According to Facebook (and a few disappointed grandparents), you need to make sure that you have a strong connection to stream live video. The best case (mobile) scenario is to have a Wi-Fi live connection, but a strong mobile connection may suffice. At least I thought so.
When a connection is lost, all of the services try to reconnect you to your stream but will time out. Of course this doesn’t do much for the end users whose attention spans may be comparable to a goldfish.
2. Ditch mobile (if you can)
Of all of the services listed above, Google Hangouts On-Air may be the most under-appreciated. The reason: you don’t have to live stream via mobile device.
The capability to use a computer and higher definition video equipment for live video benefits a content marketer from a technical standpoint, and makes rehearsal and video/audio testing much easier. Plus, you can use a more reliable Internet connection.
Of course, the platform advantage may make Facebook or Periscope preferable to Hangouts On-Air, but if you’re platform agnostic, Google can produce the best quality live-streaming videos.
3. Use the camera on the back of your phone
If you need (or want) to do a mobile live stream – you can improve the quality of the video by using the camera on the back of your phone rather than the front. The reason for this is pretty simple: front cameras have lower resolution than back cameras. I apologize if this information casts a cloud over your future selfies.
Here is a resource of mobile device cameras compared. Not unsurprisingly, the more popular ones (Samsung Galaxy, Apple iPhone 6s Plus and Apple iPhone 6s) rank at the highest of the list. So far as cameras are concerned – you get what you pay for.
4. Use ancillary equipment
So you’re streaming live video via your mobile device – but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take care to improve your mobile video as much as possible. Use a tripod to stabilize your video at a favorable angle, find a good light source and use a microphone if possible. The resolution of the picture should be the weakest aspect of your live stream video. Everything else that can be improved should be (unless you’re going for a heavy guerrilla marketing vibe).
5. Plan! Test!
Don’t be like me waiting anxiously to broadcast on Facebook without testing it out first. Test out your connectivity, audio and video to see what the end user will see. Sure it might appear a little silly to a Facebook fan or a Periscope chum to see your tests appear on the platform, but you have to test this stuff…especially if your goal is anything greater than pleasing a few grandparents.
It should also be noted that Facebook Live Video and Hangouts archive the video on Facebook and YouTube respectively after broadcast. Periscope archives live videos for 24 hours only. If you want to archive your video permanently you have to use a third-party app to record it and post it to a video streaming site.
Live streaming video is unforgiving (assuming that you are shooting and posting stream-of-consciousness videos late at night when you can’t sleep). You have an event to film, you muster viewers and the event happens. If you fail to capture that event or to properly communicate what happened during your video, you’ve failed.
The good news is that it is very easy to control the variables that might make for a poor live video. Get a good connection, film at the highest resolution that you can and plan for live video as you would any other piece of content that you’re producing.
And many apologies to Grandmas Dougherty and Schaeffer for the violin recital debacle. I will have my live streaming on point for the next one.
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