Live streaming is a great way to find new audiences, connect with your current viewers, and show a different side of yourself that wouldn’t necessarily be seen on your YouTube channel.
But, as with anything else, getting started can be a bit daunting. So, with a little bit of help from the YouTubers at Niche’s Creator Day and some more of our faves, we’ve put together this guide to get you started on your newfound obsession.
1. Try out different platforms
What do people prefer YouNow or IG Live? x
— Rebecca Jane Brown (@BeckieJBrown) March 10, 2017
There are a load of different platforms out there to get you live streaming. Facebook, YouTube, Instagram. and Twitter all have live streaming functions – and then, of course, there are apps and websites set up specifically to live stream, such as YouNow, Live.ly, and Persicope.
You can pick your platform based on where you have your audience, or just choose the platform you prefer. “For us, it’s trying to work out where our most active audience is,” explains Sammy Albon. “We found with YouTube that you can leave it up [on your channel] after… but Periscope is so instant and Twitter is where our most engaged audience is.”
Guy Larsen tells us: “I tend to use Instagram now, because that’s where I’ve always uploaded my artwork – it makes sense to have it all in one place. That said, I still love the community that’s naturally developed with Periscope. It’s so good for randomly discovering new people.”
It’s worth thinking about what you want to achieve, too. For example, YouNow and Periscope are a bit more discoverable in terms of finding new people, whereas Instagram and Facebook tend to prioritise broadcasting to your friends and followers over helping you find more people.
2. Keep an eye on new technology
— Mitch oates (@MitchOates) January 3, 2017
It’s always worth keeping an eye on what’s coming up that’s new. For example, Periscope launched 360 broadcasts in December 2016 and is gradually rolling it out to all its partners. Of course, this perhaps isn’t so relevant for a quick chat with your audience or an unboxing, but if you’re in an unusual location then it can add an extra dynamic to your live stream.
Will Hardy at Twitter comments that Lady Gaga was one of the first to make use of this feature at the Superbowl, saying that it was really simple to use, yet incredibly effective as it gave fans a real insight into what goes into the prep for her shows.
If you want to get a bit more creative with your live stream, it’s also worth looking into apps with extra features. Periscope offers an app called Periscope Producer, and Facebook Live has similar tools with which you can make a live stream look a bit more polished, which could bring an interesting dynamic to a live performance.
3. Make a date with your audience!
Hey pals! If I did a livestream next Monday what would be the best time?
— Jake Edwards 🍇 (@jakeftmagic) May 24, 2017
Lots of creators work a live stream into their weekly schedule, so they have a set time to sit and chat with their audience. Niki Albon says, “We have a loose schedule that we will live stream on a Sunday.”
Of course, it goes without saying that it’s best to find a time when your audience will be able to watch, so take into account school/work times and the location of the majority of your audience. Whilst it isn’t imperative that you stick to your schedule, it’ll help you keep yourself organised and hopefully mean your audience tries to keep the time slot free to watch you.
4. Take people behind the scenes
— houssein (@CheekyHoussein) February 23, 2017
— Niki and Sammy (@nikinsammy) October 18, 2016
Get a bit more creative with your live streams by switching it on when you’re somewhere unusual – whether that’s on holiday, on the set of your new short film or music video, or behind the scenes at an event.
Talking about a recent live stream broadcast by Lucy and Lydia Connell, Niki Albon says: “If I was a fan, I’d like to see that side of you where you’re being candid, but are also in front of a camera… as a viewer, it was interesting to see a side of you that you’re perhaps not consciously showing when you edit your videos.”
Sammy adds that “you might take it for granted, but content that offers exclusive insight into things that they don’t normally see is actually really interesting”.
Everyone likes to have an excuse to be a little bit nosy and get a different perspective – just make sure you take a portable charger with you, or else you might end up running out of battery at a crucial moment!
5. Use it as an opportunity to be more relaxed…
— Phil Lester (@AmazingPhil) May 28, 2017
Live streams usually come across better if they’re unscripted and reactive. You can use it as an opportunity to be a bit more laid back and show a different side to your audience than the edited version that a video tends to show. Most live streaming sites will have a chat or a comment function, so make use of these – both to connect with your audience, and to help you out if you lose your train of thought!
It’s also a great chance to embrace the unexpected. “When someone puts up a video, on YouTube, you know that there’s not going to be an unintentional mistake left in that video, but with live streaming, anything could happen,” Josh Pieters points out, “whether it’s bad or good – and let’s be honest, people are quite interested to see something bad happen.”
Sammy says that “the nature of live video is that it’s so raw and reacting to the moment. Facebook Live tries to champion that anyone can go live, and that it’s small things that are important and very reactive.”
6. …but make sure you have a purpose of some sort
— Jamie Jo (@BananaJamana) April 23, 2017
Whether it’s a simple Q&A, a more informal Get Ready With Me before a special event, or an opportunity to discuss something in depth and less formally, you’ll feel a whole lot more confident if you go into the live stream with a plan.
Even if you get sidelined by the comments, at least you’ll have a something to return to if you find yourself lost for words! But as Josh says, “you have no time to stop and process – I like the comments, because if you ever run out of things to say you can always revert to the comments”
7. Do something unique to you
— Amrit Singh (@MrASingh) March 23, 2017
Of course, live streaming doesn’t just have to be sitting and talking to your subscribers. You can always do something a bit more visually creative and unique to your usual content.
Speaking to TenEighty, Steven Bridges says, “I’ve used live streaming for magic a couple of times, but it’s always been in the context of a casual live stream and then someone asking if I could do a quick trick. I think magic would work really well over a live stream – the number one problem with doing magic on YouTube is that people suspect it’s a camera trick. Doing a live stream would really help debunk that theory.”
Similarly, Guy uses Instagram live to showcase his art: “I’ve played with lots of different formats for drawing live – overlay graphics, multiple angles – but the one that lets me chat with viewers best is literally pointing the camera at the paper and drawing.”
So, what are you waiting for?!
However you choose to use it, and whichever app you use, you can afford to treat live streaming as a place where you can worry a little less about the long-term impact of the content you’re creating, and instead use it as a platform to try out new things, be a little more informal, and communicate with your audience in a much more real-time and personal way.
As Josh sums up: “Now you can see what someone’s doing in that moment, and I think we haven’t even realised how powerful that is yet.”
Need more inspiration?
The panellists at Niche’s Creator Day were full of interesting ideas on building a successful career online and whether it’s worth making the leap to TV. Alternatively, why not check out our feature on YouTubers breaking into the mainstream?