Live streaming has started to really take off in the last few years. It has become easier to start live streaming, and it has a huge potential to grow its market share for the video consumption market.
The most popular live streaming platforms are Facebook Live, the Periscope mobile app by Twitter, Twitch TV (owned by Amazon), YouTube Live by Google and LiveStream LLC. Facebook Live has so much more potential for businesses compared to the other live streaming platforms. Most businesses already have a business page built up on Facebook. Those Facebook pages will already have access to the businesses’ built-in audiences they have been building over time. Furthermore, their pages will have all of their business, products, services, website and social media information on it for quick and easy access to live stream viewers. In comparison, Twitch TV only allow video gaming, live music performances and artists creating traditional and digital art. So right now Twitch TV is off limits to businesses, but Twitch TV’s traffic rivals that of Youtube and Facebook – so it is a great platform to experiment with if it ever decides to open up to businesses in the future).
Live Interaction Benefits of Live Streaming
There are many benefits that businesses can take advantage of while live streaming. Some great things to live stream are new product demonstrations, holding a live Q&A session, responding to comments from your blog or giving a behind-the-scenes look at your business.
One of the most important benefits to live streaming is the live interaction with your audience. This is how live streaming can be more advantageous than just watching a prerecorded video on YouTube. Additionally, a potential or current customer may ask you a question during your live stream, and you can immediately respond to their question in the middle of your live stream. Or somebody may chime in with a suggestion or additional information related to your industry which you can acknowledge in the middle of your Facebook Live stream. Consequently, somebody may raise an objection or problem that they have with a product, but you can respond immediately to this and alleviate this concern.
Using these interaction techniques will turn your viewers into active participants of your live stream instead of being a passive observer. And live interaction with your audience is one of the most important ways to make your live stream engaging and compelling to view. Live streaming is a really good strategy to build rapport with your target audience and set you apart from your competitor who is not live streaming.
The last tip is about how to build a large audience using Facebook Live. Facebook is in the process of rolling out scheduled live broadcasts. This will give your interested followers and subscribers information on when your next live stream is will help you to stream to a larger audience. It also will open up a pre-live lobby, where they can gather before the broadcast begins. Just look at HBO’s Game of Thrones or Westworld with its schedule set in stone that helps them to attract a large audience. Both of those shows premieres its newest episode every Sunday night around 7:00 p.m. or 8:00 p.m. depending on which timezone you live in.
Marketing and Branding While Live Streaming
Live streaming on Facebook Live will give you branding and marketing opportunities what you cannot use with mobile apps like Periscope. There are many 3rd party live streaming software that will let you make a live streaming video with graphical and text overlays that rivals the live videos that are broadcast by CNN, ESPN, ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox.
Using 3rd party software will allow your business to:
Use multiple webcams
Use virtual webcams such as Skype or FaceTime and stream employees or guests from different locations
Use professional microphones (XLR, ¼ Inch, or USB inputs)
Use audio interfaces for microphones and instruments
Use video capture cards to capture GoPro and other video camcorders’ video source
Use graphical overlays with transparent areas for the webcams (PNG format)
Use green screens behind the webcam
Display the company logo as part of the overlay
Display the company’s website address as part of the overlay
Display the company’s social media links as part of the overlay
Display promotions, special deals, and coupons on the live stream
Display special effects, static text, scrolling text, animations, and call to actions as part of the overlay
Display the PC/Mac’s entire desktop on the live stream
Display specific PC/Mac’s software on the live stream
Change scenes with transition effects using the mouse or hotkeys on the keyboard
3rd Party Live Streaming Software For Facebook Live
OBS is a free and open source streaming software with many plugins written for it. The software’s author and the OBS community offer support for OBS on the web. Some disadvantages to OBS is that there is no virtual webcam option (and OBS has stated that it will not be adding this feature to the software). On the upside, many professional and recreational video gaming streamers on Twitch TV use OBS daily with only minor hiccups.
XSplit is a low-cost streaming software with a monthly subscription. Xsplit does support a virtual webcam that OBS lacks. Furthermore, XSplit supports streaming to multiple platforms at once, so a business can stream to Facebook Live and YouTube Live at the same time to maximize its reach. Since it is not free, its market share is smaller. Remember the popular saying that “you get what you pay for” so there are benefits for businesses going with XSplit over OBS.
Vmix is another streaming software that can ranges from free for a very limited version of the software, and then from $60 to $1200 depending on the features needed. Vmix does support virtual webcams and live streaming to multiple platforms at once. Vmix is used more for businesses who record and live stream on Youtube Live, and churches who live stream on their own website. It has some features that XSplit doesn’t have like instant replay. But instant replay is limited to video cameras only so any desktop software or overlays can’t be seen in the replay.
Wirecast is an expensive stream software that costs $495 or $995 depending on if you need its Studio or Pro version. Wirecast supports virtual webcams, instant replays and streaming to multiple platforms at once like its competition does. Wirecast is another streaming application used by businesses and churches, but its software quality and tech support is rated below that of Vmix, its main competitor.
How To Set Up 3rd Party Software to Facebook Live
Setting up 3rd party software to Facebook is fairly easy. The software will remember your settings once you set up your webcams, microphones, overlays, video sources, audio sources, special effects and text as scenes. This is really advantageous so that the next time you stream, you can go live with minimal setup time.
Facebook Live Setup
First, for Facebook, you will need some information from your account to connect 3rd party streaming software to it.
Go to “Publishing Tools” located on the menu at the top.
Select “Videos” from the menu on the left.
Select “+Live” from the menu at the top.
Copy your “Stream Key.”
Select “Preview” and you can fill out the information on this page if you like.
Go to “Stream” from the menu on the left.
Select “Streaming Services” from the “Streaming Type” pull-down menu.
Select “Facebook Live” from the “Service” pull-down menu.
Paste your “Stream Key” where is says “Stream Key.”
Set up your “Scenes” and “Sources” if you haven’t done so already.
When you click on the “Start Streaming” button you will be live on Facebook.
Go to the “Outputs” pull-down menu.
Go to the “Set Up a New Output” slide out menu.
Select “Get More Outputs.”
Search for “Facebook Live” on the “Plugin Store.”
Click on and install the “Facebook Live” plugin.
Go to “Outputs”, then “Add New Output”, and finally select “Facebook.”
Select “Authorize” from the “Facebook Live Properties” screen.
Log in to your Facebook account.
You can fill out the information on the “Facebook Live Properties” screen as you like.
Set up your “Scenes” and “Sources” if you haven’t done so already.
When you click on “Facebook Live” from the “Broadcast” pull down menu you will be live on Facebook.
Final Recommended Facebook Live Settings
Facebook Live does not support 1080p resolution and 60fps (frames per second) for its live streams. Here are what settings to use in OBS, Xsplit, Vmix, and Wirecast to ensure that your stream has excellent video quality during your stream.
Resolution: 720p (1280×720) at 30fps (frames per second)
Rate Control/Mode: CBR
Key-Frame Interval – OBS: 1
Key-Frame Interval – XSplit: 2
Bitrate: Set higher for a better video stream quality. But a higher bitrate can also cause mobile devices and slower, less powerful computers to buffer a lot. Good video quality with very little buffering is a good compromise. It is recommended that you set your bitrate to half of your upload speed. Bitrates of 2000, 2500, and 3000 should work for most PCs that you are streaming from. 4000 is the maximum bitrate for Facebook Live.