Interested in using live video on your social channels?
Live video creates a unique, real-time experience that encourages your audience to comment and interact, turning individual customers into a community.
In this article, you’ll discover the platform benefits and how to use live video on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Why Live Video?
Going live adds two unique elements to video on social media: urgency and interactivity. Even if a live video is saved on a platform for future viewers, the unique experience offered by live video is available only at the time of broadcast. It’s an event during which anything can happen.
Live social video also has a benefit that even television lacks: the audience can participate. Viewers watching a live stream on a social media platform can write in their comments. The broadcaster can then read and reply to comments, and allow the audience to influence the content of the live video as it’s being created.
No other social media format delivers these benefits, which is why Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have already rolled out their live video functions. Each version allows marketers to reach audiences directly in real time, and each differs slightly and in important ways.
But which platform is right for your content? Let’s find out.
#1: Facebook Live
Just as Facebook is the default social media platform, Facebook Live is the default live video platform. It’s the one that will give you the most eyeballs for your content and the biggest reactions.
Facebook Live is good for face-to-camera videos, as well as live-action shots from events and staged studio broadcasts. Use Facebook Live when you want to reach a lot of people, script a marketing message, experiment, and track results.
How to Use It
To broadcast live on Facebook from a mobile device, open the Facebook app and tap the Live Video icon below the text field.
Before the video starts, you’ll be able to select an audience from your privacy lists and add a short description. Tap Go Live to start a countdown from three to one, and you’ll be live!
If you’re using the Mentions app, tap the Post icon and then the Live icon to choose your audience and start broadcasting.
As you’re broadcasting, you’ll be able to view the number of people watching. A stream of reactions will flow across the screen and you’ll see a scrolling list of comments as they come in. While Twitter has only hearts, Facebook offers a broad range of reactions.
Broadcasts can last up to four hours, and in addition to the usual video analytics, you’ll also be able to see the number of peak live viewers, people reached, reactions, comments, and shares.
At the end of the broadcast, the video is added to your profile or Facebook page. (The video ranks higher in the news feed when it’s live.) Followers who frequently interact with your page will receive a notification telling them that someone they know is now live on Facebook.
Facebook Live gives you the ability to choose an audience, so marketers can segment their follower lists and create unique content for each group. The detailed analytics are vital for tracking results and experimenting with different content.
The biggest benefit, though, is the size of the audience. Facebook can give you the largest audience of any social media platform.
#2: Twitter Live
In December 2016, Twitter finally merged Periscope functionality into the Twitter app, so now anyone can broadcast live on Twitter and reach audiences on both platforms.
While you’ll use Facebook for delivering planned marketing videos that build and hold an audience, Twitter is great for short, spontaneous videos when something catches your eye. Broadcast at conferences, launches, or events, but think of it as live video news that shows what’s happening (rather than what you’re thinking), and keep the live video programming for Facebook.
How to Use It
To go live in the Twitter app, tap the Compose icon, followed by the Live icon.
As on Facebook, you can enter a title to help people discover your video. Hit Go Live and you’ll be broadcasting.
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While you’re broadcasting, you’ll be able to see the number of viewers, and hearts and comments from your audience.
Live Twitter videos appear as tweets and remain in your timeline as recorded videos after your broadcast ends. They’ll also be available on Periscope, even if you haven’t registered for a Periscope account.
The relationship between Periscope and Twitter gives Twitter extra discoverability. In addition to broadcasting to your followers, your video will be available on a different stand-alone app. Allow Twitter to access your location data and it will also appear on Periscope’s map, which will make it easy for local users to find you. (Facebook has a similar live video map.)
Periscope has just 10 million users so even with that extra discoverability, your Twitter audience is likely to be relatively small.
#3: Instagram Live
Instagram may have started as a photo-sharing app, but recent changes are geared toward vying with Snapchat for the attention of young audiences. The live video feature is part of Instagram Stories (itself a copy of a feature on Snapchat), which is used by about 100 million people daily.
Unlike Facebook and Twitter, Instagram’s live video disappears after viewing, increasing the urgency but reducing views. Because the videos are going out on a platform best known for photography, you’ll want to make your Instagram live streams colorful. And due to their short lifespan, keep them casual.
While you could use Instagram in the same way you use Facebook (for launches, tours, Q&As, interviews, and behind-the-scenes moments), it’s best to use Instagram for short chats and demonstrations with your most loyal customers.
How to Use It
Instagram has the best usability of the three apps. To start recording, tap the camera icon in the upper-left corner of the home screen (or swipe right) and then tap Live. Tap Start Live Video to start recording.
Instagram live videos can last up to an hour, and friends might receive a notification when you’re live. The profile photos of users who are live on Instagram are marked in the Stories bar at the top of the feed.
As on Facebook and Twitter, you’ll be able to see comments and reactions from viewers. You can also pin a comment, helping to guide the conversation.
Live videos are also shown on Instagram’s Explore tab, and videos that are trending based on the number of viewers, location, and engagement are pushed to the top. That gives broadcasters an incentive to hit a big audience, but it takes no more than a swipe left or right to move to the next live story.
The standout feature of Instagram’s version of live video is the temporary nature. If your audience doesn’t see the broadcast when it goes out, they won’t get a second chance. While this does severely limit the size of the audience your video can receive, it does give fans a reason to keep checking the stream.
The temporary nature of Instagram’s live videos also means a more intimate experience. One way to think of Instagram’s live video is less as a broadcast channel than a large Skype chat with only one microphone. You’ll struggle to win new audiences or large audiences, but Instagram live video will help to cement the audience you’ve already built.
Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have worked hard to make going live as simple as possible. You don’t need any special equipment, just the ability to deliver an effective marketing message.
What do you think? Do you broadcast live video for your business? Which platforms do you use? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.