Live Streaming Events: The Next Frontier in Commercial Video

 Photo Credit:  Intel Free Press

Photo Credit: Intel Free Press

Something big is happening in the video world.

New technology has changed the way we consume video. TV, once the “default” option of where to watch, is fading into the background. Now we're shifting our attention online. It doesn't matter if we're at our computers, in a coffee shop, or on the go – as long as we have an internet connection.

These changes create enormous opportunities for your clients to engage with their customers in exciting new ways. One of these opportunities is to video events, sometimes even streaming them live!

How do you sell clients on event videos' potential?

Should you give live streaming a try?

How can you shoot these videos so they're as high-quality as possible?

Here's what you need to know…

Selling Clients on the Idea of Event Videos

Most clients will be open to the idea of using video for marketing and product demos. It's easy for them to wrap their heads around how those would be valuable assets for their business.

The thought of event videos, on the other hand, could seem less exciting. Your client might think, Yeah, I guess it would be nice, but we have plenty other videos projects that are higher priority.

But event videos can be incredibly valuable for a client's business. That value might seem obvious, but if you can present them with persuasive reasons why they should invest, many will agree.

Here are just a few things to consider when discussing the idea:

  • Hosting an event takes an enormous amount of time and effort. They might as well get the most out of that expense.

  • Event videos create more value for attendees by giving them access to something they can re-watch later.

  • Videos serve as marketing tools for people thinking about attending future events.

  • They increase your exposure beyond the walls of an event hall, making your message available to a global audience.

Giving Live Streams a Try

 Photo Credit:  Rehak

Photo Credit: Rehak

Live streaming videos is a completely animal than recording an event, editing it, and producing it before release. There are challenges to tackle, but streaming offers incredible potential for the businesses that use it (and the video professionals they hire).

Live streaming has been around for a while, but its popularity has exploded recently. This rapid rise reflects a fundamental shift in the way we're consuming video. The days of TV being our primary viewing outlet are over. Our computers, smart phones, and tablets are on their way in.

Some of the world's most popular social media brands have caught on. The National Football League just signed a $10 million deal with Twitter to broadcast 10 Thursday-night games live via the social media platform next season. Facebook also prioritizes live video in its users' news feeds. And consider popular websites like Twitch, a live-streaming gaming site with over 45 million viewers a month!

As these pioneers have shown, the live stream audience is already here. They're hungry for quality content. If your clients can offer them that now, they can reach new customers and build long-term relationships.

Imagine the possibilities for your clients, especially if they're launching a new product or doing a keynote speech. They can promote the upcoming live event to build hype, and, if they stream it via certain platforms like YouTube, live viewers can ask questions and offer feedback, making for a community-building and interactive experience!

Tips to Help Your Events Turn out Smoothly

Once your client has given you the green light to shoot their next event, keeping these things in mind will help everything go as smoothly as possible:

Have a Plan B

Remember Murphy's law: Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.

Hopefully that's not the case for your events. But having a plan b allows you to rely less on hope and luck. It increases your chances of getting a quality end product.

Do your best to prepare for the worst. What could possibly go wrong? Thinking through these things beforehand offers insights into what you can do to avoid them.

What are some of the most common failure points? Consider things like power, microphone issues, and internet outages. Your ability to prepare for any potential problem is limited by your time and budget, but do what you can to have a game plan in place if there's a snag.

Start Live Streams Early and Leave Viewers with a “Next Step” When the Event Ends

If you're streaming your event live, be sure to start the stream at least 15 to 20 minutes before the event actually begins.

Most viewers will show up early. When they find your stream, they'll want to make sure they're in the right place. That's why it's important to display a banner, logo, or other visual confirmation that they are where they're supposed to be. It's also smart to reassure them that the event is indeed starting soon. Countdown clocks are great for this.

Here's a graphic Apple used before live streaming an event about its iPhone:

 Photo Credit:  MacRumors

Photo Credit: MacRumors

If your client has video clips from previous events (highlights, best-of collections, etc.), you can play them on the stream to entertain viewers and build the anticipation.

When the event ends, don't just fade to a black screen abruptly. This is the perfect opportunity to display a banner with a call to action giving viewers a simple next step to take the relationship further – things like requesting more information, buying products, or signing up for the next event.

Test Your Equipment Extensively at the Venue

A backup plan is key, but doing everything you can to avoid using it is better.

There's a good reason why “test early and test often” is one of Ustream's 10 “live stream commandments.” End-to-end equipment tests are best. They're the most valuable when done on location (with your actual equipment) instead of from the comfort of your hotel room or studio.

Here are a few key things Ustream recommends you test prior to any live streaming event:

  • Test the stream with moving images from live cameras
  • Test audio to make sure its synched
  • Watch your stream on different devices (computers, tablets, set top boxes, etc.) to make sure it looks right
  • Check for any firewalls that could block live streaming and/or viewing
  • Upload bandwidth. Use a website like speedtest.net (multiple times) at the venue to get an accurate reading, and make sure you have enough to avoid a choppy stream

Always Bring More Gear Than You Think You Need

It's amazing how equipment magically seems to disappear whenever you take it on the road. You make a list and check it twice, but somehow (like socks in the laundry), things vanish!

It's always a great idea to bring extra. Remember, you only get one shot at this. Lugging around extra gear is a hassle, but it'll give you peace of mind to shoot your best videos. When it's go time, there's no replacement for having the right tools at hand.

Having more equipment than you think you need also allows you to improvise. Maybe you'll spot an opportunity to grab some cool behind-the-scenes footage or interview a few audience members. Going above and beyond like this will impress clients and create extra value.

Create Even More Value for Your Clients Than Before

The ability to shoot top-quality event videos gives you more opportunities to provide value to clients and build long-term relationships.

Event video is a useful tool in any video professional's tool box – one that will increase in value as more people seek out videos on computers, smart phones, and tablets.

Have you shot event videos before? If so, did anything surprise you along the way?