Social Media Blogs by Aliza Sherman
Aliza Sherman is a web pioneer, author, and international speaker. Sherman is the author of 8 books about the Internet including The Everything Blogging Book, Streetwise Ecommerce, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Crowdsourcing and Social Media Engagement for Dummies.

Best Practices for ‘Live Streaming’

Best Practices for ‘Live Streaming’

While video continues to catch people’s attention online, live streaming can draw in an audience that may not notice your pre-recorded videos and give you an opportunity to interact with them in real-time.

If you decide you want to live stream for your business, first determine what type of video you’re broadcasting such as:

  • Conversations or interviews
  • Educational sessions
  • Performances
  • Product demonstrations
  • Virtual events

You don’t have to be locked into a single type of live stream, however, the setup and process for producing each type will vary. Regardless of the type of live stream you’re producing, here are some basics that you should cover along with best practices to follow for a successful outcome.

Pick the right tools

The basic tools you need to live stream a camera, microphone, lighting, and connectivity.

A digital video camera that is compatible with your live streaming platform can range from your smartphone or tablet camera to the built-in camera on laptop to an external web cam that comes with various features such as a wide-angle lens.

The microphone on your mobile device can work to capture basic audio as does a quality set of earbuds with a built-in mic. You can go a step further and purchase an external microphone and an adapter to attach it to your mobile device or laptop. A USB microphone that you attach to your laptop or desktop typically doesn’t require the additional purchase of an amplifier or mixer, saving you money and keeping your setup simple.

For lighting, a standard ring light will provide an even, bright light when pointed at the main subject of the live stream. Note that if you or the person is wearing glasses, lighting can be a little tricky to angle it so there isn’t a distracting reflection over their eyes.

While it is common to live stream over WIFI, if you can hard-wire through an ethernet cable, the quality of your live stream will be much higher

Choose the right platform

A live streaming feature is available on the most popular social networks including Facebook Live and YouTube Live for both mobile and desktop and Instagram Live for mobile only. For LinkedIn, you need to apply and be accepted before you can stream live. There are also third-party services you can use such as Restream and StreamYard that offer more professional "studio" tools to produce a live stream.

If you’re going for simple, use Instagram or Facebook with your smartphone to live stream.

Do a test run

Once you have all the pieces in place, do a test run. Start with a regular video recording that you are not live streaming. Check the following:

  1. Lighting - Is there enough light so the images are clear? Live streaming a performance may be darker than a seated interview. Viewers should be able to make out the main subject or subjects of the video.
  2. Sound - Is the audio clear? Is there a lot of background noise? Is there a lot of popping and crackling from your microphone? A higher quality mic can cut out a lot of external noise. Watch the distance of your mouth from the microphone. Accessories such as pop filters and wind filters for your microphone can help depending on where you’re streaming.
  3. Framing - If you’re streaming a static scene, framing - or how the subjects of the video are positioned in the camera view - is a lot easier to control. If you’re live streaming a moving scene, having a monopod or selfie stick could help you maneuver the camera more easily.
  4. Steadiness - While a shaky camera can be a style of camera work, most live streams with static subjects look better with a camera that doesn’t wobble. That’s where a tripod comes in handy. Even if you use your smartphone to live stream, there are tripods and tripod adapters that can hold your phone steady.
  5. Connectivity - Make sure your connection to the Internet is available and stable. Test using cellular data as a backup.
  6. Power - Check your power sources and stock up on portable chargers. You can never have too many sources of power because live streaming can be an energy drain, especially on a smartphone.

Before you go live, do last minute checks of lighting, sound, framing, and connectivity. Make a checklist of everything you need to examine prior to hitting the "go live" button to avoid last minute confusion or panic. Finally, when you’re done streaming, be sure to save or archive the video so you can leverage the recording afterwards.

Read other social media blogs by Aliza Sherman