5 things you must know about live-streaming video

Botching your kid’s music recital is one thing; blundering a professional assignment is quite another. Follow this advice to stay in the good graces of clients and grandparents alike.

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 didn’t go well. Lack of mobile connectivity caused the start time to lag, and by the time I got it up, I missed recording most of her performance.

This got me thinking: As popular as Periscope, Facebook Live Video, Hangouts On-Air and Meerkat are, broadcasting a live video from a mobile device has the potential to quickly go south. (Note: Meerkat will soon be ditching the live-streaming business.)

Here are five ways that you can improve the end user’s experience of your live-streaming content.

1. Ensure good connectivity.

“If you lose connection while live, find a place with a better signal,” offers the guidance on Facebook Live Video best practices.

I learned this the hard way. According to Facebook, you must make sure you have a strong connection to stream live video. The best case (mobile) scenario is to have a WiFi live connection, but a strong mobile connection might suffice. At least I thought so.

When a connection is lost, all the services try to reconnect you to your stream but will time out.

2. Ditch mobile (if possible).

Of the services listed above, Google Hangouts On-Air might be the most underappreciated. The reason: You don’t have to live stream via a 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 it 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 want to do a mobile live stream, you can improve your video’s quality by using the camera on the back of your phone rather than the front. Front cameras have lower resolution than back cameras.

Here is a resource for comparing/contrasting mobile device cameras. The more popular ones (Samsung Galaxy, Apple iPhone 6s Plus and Apple iPhone 6s) rank highest. You get what you pay for.

4. Use ancillary equipment.

Even though you’re streaming live video via your mobile device, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t 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 and test.

Test your connectivity, audio and video to see what the end user will see. 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.

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, you have to use a third-party app to record it and post it to a video streaming site.

Live-streaming video is unforgiving. 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 possible, and plan for live video as you would any other content you’re producing.

A version of this article originally appeared on the Cision blog.


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