“We’re entering this new golden age of video,” Mark Zuckerburg recently told BuzzFeed News. “I wouldn’t be surprised if you fast forward five years and most of the content that people see on Facebook and are sharing on a day-to-day basis is video.”

Live video is an especially exciting new frontier because the barrier to entry feels lower than creating a video for YouTube. Live video is supposed to be raw and direct, rather than perfectly polished, and that spontaneous interaction holds tremendous power for true connection. Social media strategist Meighan O’Toole explains,

“What’s great about live video is people really only care about the content you offer. They are forgiving in the sense that you don’t need to be super produced or coifed.”
Periscope and Meerkat both launched in the spring of 2015, giving us the first taste of live video. Twitter quickly acquired Periscope and Meerkat was subsequently shut out of the market. Just last month, Facebook rolled out its own live video platform, Facebook Live, to all users. In less than a year, live video streaming has become an exciting new option for content producers — including craft business owners — to explore.

Should you use Periscope or Facebook Live?

So you’d like to get your feet wet with live broadcasting, but don’t know which app is best? Here are a few tips:

First, keep in mind that both Periscope and Facebook Live are mobile-only for recording purposes.

A key distinction between Periscope and Facebook Live is that Periscope videos disappear after 24 hours. The workaround was to sign up for Katch, an app that archived Periscope videos, but Katch announced in April of this year that it failed to secure enough venture funds and is shutting down.

For some, the ephemeral nature of Periscope is an attractive feature that compels fans to tune in immediately or lose out forever. Others like the fact that Facebook Live videos stay on a page indefinitely, creating a sort of library of past videos that viewers can watch and engage with indefinitely.

Facebook Live gives you the ability to control and personalize who sees your video. The Facebook Live app even allows you to live stream just within a Facebook group. For those creative business owners with their own Facebook groups, this is a way to talk directly to your group members. Viewers’ comments appear in real time, even on the playback. On Periscope, viewers can tap their screens to “heart” the video they’re watching, which gives the creator immediate feedback.

Crochet designer Stacey Trock (freshstitches.com) says her first Periscope video got 50 views, whereas her first Facebook Live broadcast had almost 1,000 with nearly 100 comments.

“I think the amount of engagement is dependent on the number of fans you have in each,” Trock says.

When you’re broadcasting on Periscope, your account auto-posts to Twitter and plays on Twitter in your feed. If your Twitter audience is large, that can be an advantage. If you’ve invested more in growing your Facebook audience, however, Facebook Live may be a better bet.

5 Tips for a Successful Live Streaming Video

Here are some tips for a successful live streaming video experience, no matter which app you choose.

1. Make an announcement

Spend some time writing a compelling description of what you’ll be talking about in the live video. Build anticipation by showing the value you’ll be delivering through the live experience.

Then give your fans and followers a heads up that you’ll be doing a live broadcast. At least a few hours, or even a day in advance, post on your social media platforms and invite your followers to join you at a particular date and time (be sure to include the time zone) and clarify which app you’ll be using.

2. Get set up

Before you begin a live stream check that you have a good Wi-Fi connection.

Find a place where you can steady your phone. I like the GripTight Mount for phones and small tablets, which hooks onto the Gorilla Pod tripod, or, for overhead shots, try the EasyAcc Gooseneck Mount. You don’t have to invest in equipment, of course. If you don’t have the gear, try steadying your phone on a shelf or against a stack of books, for example.

Take some time to check out how the image is framed and make adjustments before you hit the record button. Check out what’s behind you. If you’re in your studio, can you stand against an inspiring wall of materials or samples of your finished work? Be sure you’re well lit and that the light source is not coming from behind you, so that your face is not thrown into shadow.

3. Do some planning

For my first Facebook Live video I actually rehearsed twice — once to practice and a second time because I failed to actually hit the record button (oops) — and found it helped boost my confidence and kept the flow going once I was actually live.

Avoid long pauses unless you’re showing particularly compelling visual. Try to ask yourself why you’re showing something live. What can the live experience offer your viewers that they couldn’t get otherwise? Live streaming is an opportunity to teach and show your expertise. Choose a topic you know well. Plan out your opening and closing so that you remember to state your name, your website and any other calls to action you might have for your viewers such as encouraging viewers to subscribe, give you hearts (Periscope) and leave comments, so that the video ranks higher in news feeds (Facebook Live). You also can outline some key talking points.

4. Stay on the air for a while.

When it comes to online video, we’ve been trained to keep it short. While a two-minute video might work best for YouTube, longer is better for live streaming. Plan to be record for at least five minutes, but aim for even longer times, so that your followers have time to join the stream and spread the word to their friends. If you’re live for longer than 10 minutes, it’s a good idea to recap so that those who’ve joined recently know what it’s all about.

5. Build community

Think through how you’ll react to viewers. On Periscope, you may have to actively block trolls how leave derogatory comments while you’re speaking. On either platform, if you know you’re going to have a lot of viewer comments, it might be helpful to have someone else sit near you and choose the best questions and comments for you to address in your broadcast.

Live streaming is part of the future of online media

The ability to live streaming gives us the ability to reach our audience in a new and exciting way. As the medium evolves we’ll start to see a new set of best practices evolve and a new set of behavioral norms for each platform. We will likely also see monetization efforts by the platforms themselves, as we have already with every social media site. (Read Mark Zuckerburg’s hints about potential monetization of Facebook Live.) And, as with every social media site, early adopters experience a distinct advantage. If you’re considering doing a live stream video, I encourage you to start playing.

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