Live streaming at events

Using Social-Driven Live Video to Engage your Audience at Events


Social live streaming tools like Periscope and Facebook Live provide event organisers with a great opportunity, but they also present a challenge. Which tool should you use? Should you live stream the entire event? Does social live streaming replace other live streaming tools? Now that everyone with a mobile phone can live stream the event, what is your live streaming policy?

Benefits of Live Streaming

Live streaming will, without doubt, help the reach of your event, bring it to a wider audience and increase social media mentions. Executed well, live streaming can mean that you get more people watching the event online than are attending in person and all of these people can then tweet and share information as it comes from the live stream. This in turn can help your event trend and that has many benefits too. If your event is a marketing exercise rather than a product in itself (as some events are) then you absolutely have to consider social live streaming but it very much depends on the nature of the event.

Your Live Streaming Policy

Social Media Marketing World trends globally on Twitter each year but live streaming of speaker presentations is not used by the organisers, and attendees are not allowed to live stream the presentations. Michael Stelzner and his team ask attendees to not stream the speaker sessions because multiple streams from the event will take down the event Wi-Fi and they also need to protect their product –the event. Attendees are free to live stream in the general event areas and from event parties and social gatherings (using their own internet connection) but not from the speaker sessions. This makes perfect sense as people purchase virtual passes to watch recordings of the speakers, so the social media policy aligns with the business strategy.

If your event is a marketing exercise rather than a product then you should consider live streaming for all of the benefits listed above. There is also the option to not live stream the entire event but to live stream just the keynotes and this is the approach that many events take every year. This can be a risky approach. In one way it helps the event reach a wider audience and the many social mentions of those watching online do help the event trend but usually keynotes are the best speakers (or at least should be) at a conference so to give these away for free can only negatively impact ticket sales.

Another consideration around live streaming is how this impacts your contract with the event speakers. If you are going to live stream ensure you include this in the speaker and performer contracts and that they are aware that their performance will be live streamed for the world to see.

As an event organiser you have to decide what your live streaming policy and activities will be in advance of the event and communicate this to attendees. It’s important to not let this policy consume the event. Don’t waste your time stopping a 30 second live stream but do interrupt people streaming for extended periods if you would prefer them not to.

If you stream, make the most if it. Promote the live stream in advance with social posts that notify your followers of the date and time of the live stream so they can tune in.

Choosing the Best Tool

There are many different options and tools to choose from each with their own advantages:

  • Periscope
  • Facebook Live
  • Blab
  • Google Hangouts On Air and YouTube Connect
  • 360-Degree Live Streaming

Measuring the Effectiveness of Live Streaming

By looking at how many people watched your stream you can measure the reach and engagement of your event beyond those that attended in person. For that reason it’s very important that whatever live streaming tool you use has good measurement functionality. Ideally you should be able to see how many people watched each stream, from where in the world they watched it and for how long they watched.

Though the analytics available from Periscope are limited, you can see how many viewers you had live and on replays, the number of people who watch on the app versus the web and the retention of the audience. By reviewing Twitter after your live stream, especially if you included a hashtag in your title, you will be able to see how many shared your live stream and go engage them and thank them for doing so. There are a number of third party tools in development for Periscope which allow you to review how many people shared your live stream, who took the most screen captures, who left the most comments, who gives you the most ‘hearts’ and how long people watch the live stream for. These tools will be very valuable for broadcasters to help them evaluate what is working so that they can refine their live stream content marketing plan.

Facebook has a number of metrics available to demonstrate the effectiveness of your Facebook Live videos. These metrics are available through Page Insights and your Video Library. Viewers During Live Broadcast includes a visual representation of the number of viewers during each moment of the live broadcast. New daily breakdowns include metrics like Minutes Viewed: the total minutes of watch time spent on the video on a particular day.

Non Social Live Streaming Tools

Periscope, Facebook Live and Google Hangouts have a great application in social media as they are part of a social media channel. This allows you to easily reach the audiences you have on those social channels and means that you reduce the steps that your social audience needs to take to watch and engage with the live stream. If you also want to live stream your event on your website rather than just directly from a social channel, you will also need to look at other live streaming tools. Ustream.tv and LiveStream.com are two very popular live streaming tools. As with all tool selection, it is best to make a list of features and functionality that you want from your tool and then look at how the different tools available stack up against your list. High on this list should be integration with social media and ability to measure the effectiveness of the stream.

What to do next

Mobile and social live video is not going anywhere. Now is the time to embrace this trend and use it for your event. You have lots of options from Facebook Live to Periscope to Blab and many more. Who knows what the next few months and years will bring. If 360 video is anything to go by the future of live video at events is very exciting. Follow these steps so you’re ready to use live video at your event.

Action Points:

  1. Decide the live streaming policy for your event.
  2. Choose and practice with the tools you will use for live streaming.
  3. Create the content plan for your live streaming – what will you be streaming and when.
  4. Make a plan for promoting your live streams.
  5. Include you live stream measurement in your measurement framework and social media reports.

For more tips and advice on Social Media For Events buy Trending: The Complete Guide to Social Media for Events.

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