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Live Streaming 101 for Social Media Marketers


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What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of live streaming?

Kanye West?

Live sports?



No matter what comes to mind, we can all agree on the fact that you might have come across live streaming events, been invited to one, attended one, or even hosted one.

My Twitter feed is filled with tweets promoting upcoming live streams on Periscope, YouTube, Facebook and I’m sure yours is too.

A research by AYTM suggests that 89% people who watch live streams have watched content from brands at least once.

Here are some of the most popular live streaming platforms, but more about them later.

popular live streaming platforms for live streaming 101

Statistic Source: AYTM

But there is more to live streaming than you can imagine at the moment. I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I said live streaming will change social media and the world as we know it.

Let’s see how!

The general effect of Live Streaming

Live streaming has become a part of culture, and everyone seems to be using it to reach more people online.

The Dallas Police Department used Periscope to live stream information about ‘Black Lives Matters’ demonstrations and the killings of officers in real time. Almost 2 million people watched their first live interview.

general effect of live streaming for live streaming 101

Image Source: Twitter

Lavish Reynolds used Facebook Live as a social 911 when her boyfriend was killed.

There are hundreds of examples of how we have embraced the culture of streaming everything even remotely interesting.

The business effect of Live Streaming

If 2014 was the year of social media advertising, 2016 is the year of live streaming. Thanks to Facebook Live and Snapchat, live streaming has turned out to be one of the most important game changers for social media marketers.

It has helped brands boost awareness and get more lift in conversions and engagement than usual. When Trolli partnered with basketball star James Harden to create “weirdly awesome” Snap stories for the NBA All-Star Game, they saw an increase of 11 points in brand awareness and a 33% lift in purchase intent.

DJ Axwell’s Facebook live streaming reached an audience of 4 million people. The capacity of the Ushuaia Ibiza Beach Hotel where the event was held is 5000 pax. If not for live streaming, would they have been able to reach millions of people?

DJ Axwell's Facebook live streaming for live streaming 101

Image Source: Twitter

Live streaming is no longer restricted to sports and entertainment industries. Even retail is making a foray into it with fashion shows, sneak peeks and sale previews.

live streaming for retail industry for live streaming 101

Image Source: Twitter

But the best part about live streaming is it’s so affordable and simple that even small business owners can leverage its benefit.

Stephanie from New York aka Mrs Goose’s Goodies uses YouTube live stream to show her talents in the culinary and confections department. She has over 6k followers, a small number, but can do much better with a little bit of help.

goose goodies for live streaming 101

Image Source: YouTube

Now that you might be well and truly convinced that the world is ready for live streaming, let’s get down to the nuts and bolts of live streaming. But before you decide to jump on the shiny new wagon, you need to understand that it’s not roses and peaches. There are many live streams that fail to get traction because either they suck or are not marketed enough.

Live streaming is still in its nascent stage and novice marketers and small business owners must proceed cautiously. I will answer some tough questions about the what, where, and how of live streaming as a part of your content strategy, so it is all smooth sailing from here on.

What should you Live Stream?

The short answer to the question is you can stream anything that is relevant to your brand and wouldn’t bore your audience. But that is too broad, so we’ll narrow it down to the things that you can live stream.

A story

Do you have a story to tell? If a customer asks you to make a customized door plate, turn it into a story by going to their door, hanging the sign and then capturing their emotions.

The ‘HappyCam’ campaign by SA-based NetFlorist is a classic example of excellent storytelling. They sent their delivery men fitted with cameras to film their wives’ and girlfriends’ reactions so their partners could watch it live!

The campaign proved to be immensely successful and the best part was that the only effective investment was hidden cameras.

An event

No event is too big or too small when it comes to live streaming. A restaurant owner or a food trucker can show how chefs go crazy during rush hour. A kindergarten teacher can alleviate new parents’ tension on the first day of school. A wedding planner can show the minute details that make weddings great.

An anomaly

Did you just notice a strange insect on your porch? Stream it to the world and watch everyone go gaga over it. The world will gobble up anything and everything that gives them a break from the routine.

You may see anomalies day in and day out. Just keep your eyes open. Case in point: Drummond puddle. If there isn’t anything different or weirdly fun happening, do something to create one. For instance, get your logo carved out of a watermelon and live stream it as it happens.

an anomaly for live streaming 101

Image Source: Pinterest

Where to Live Stream?

The obvious answer to this question is Meerkat, Periscope, Google Hangouts or Facebook Live. However, it is not that easy to make the decision. The answer depends on what features or benefits you are looking for.

Hangouts on Air

With Hangouts On Air, the latest feather in Google’s cap, allows you to host and broadcast live events and performances. You either need to have a YouTube channel or can broadcast it from your Google+ Home page. All broadcasts are public by default but if you want it to be a private or invite-only broadcast, make the event unlisted.


Professional directors might prefer Periscope to Facebook because it integrates with GoPro. Also Periscope allows you to sketch during live presentations which works great if you are doing an explainer video or to fill those awkward periods of lull.

Facebook Live

Facebook Live can be a great choice because it provides a ready audience. You have already established your brand on the platform and it is only a matter of time for you to gain traction and ensure maximum attendance for your live session.

Free and paid Live Streaming platforms

Other than these social networks, there are also many professional live streaming platforms that broadcast high resolution streams for a small fee. For instance, DaCast costs around $19/mo for 300 hours whereas Livestream costs around $42/mo for unlimited hours of live streaming.

Also there are many more free applications that allow you to stream live, however they are riddled by annoying ads and hence are best avoided.

How do you Live Stream?

Every live stream must have a benefit not only for you, but also for your customers or audience. They should feel like they partook in a very special event or saw a chance to see something beautiful, weird or enriching.

The DJ Axwell example mentioned above does this in a very flattering way, no wonder millions of people took part.

Here are a few more examples and ways you can make your streams more meaningful and valuable.


The first step to live streaming success is to invest in some quality equipment. If you are using a phone to live stream, make sure the connection is strong, the camera good and the sound clear.

In short, pick a real smart ‘smart phone’. This detailed guide explains how to use smartphone to record professional quality videos. You can apply the same techniques for live streaming.

Give something

It is always advisable to make your live streams more engaging by giving your viewers a surprise discount code or giveaways. Doritos live-streamed giveaways during their #DoritosRoulette digital campaign.

Engage your audience

YouTube stars Rhett and Link asked Wendy’s customers to answer questions on their sites. Based on their answers, Rhett and Link sang songs and did skits of around 30-60 seconds. This was an excellent way to engage their audience and make them feel special.

Create urgency

It is very important to pre and post market your live stream. Create a sense of urgency by promoting upcoming live streams on Facebook, Twitter, Vine and other social channels.

Be unique

I wish this didn’t sound like a clichéd tagline of an apparel brand but it is very important and hence I had to write it. No matter what you are planning to show the world live and as it happens, make sure it isn’t another boring stream. For instance, try out a velfie.

That’s all for now.

Parting words

I have covered many real examples and answered some questions on live streaming that will help you leverage your social media presence. Pick your stories and events wisely and ensure you are well prepared with high quality equipment.

That said, the world goes crazy over anything, so just trust your instincts sometimes and stream away!

Guest Author: Harsh Agrawal, a blog scientist and CEO of ShoutDreams Media, started blogging in 2008 and since then has written numerous posts on Blogging, SEO, Social media, Technology, Affiliate Marketing and more. He has also partnered with various international companies, helping them promote their online businesses. His blog ShoutMeLoud has more than 832K subscribers and receives 1 million Pageviews per month.

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