How to Start Live Streaming on a Shoestring Budget
Live streaming video content is some of the most engaging, innovative, and results-driving marketing material any business can create. American adults already watch about 5.5 hours of video content every day. And people spend about 3 times longer watching live video than recorded content.
Brands that can capture a portion of that time can viscerally connect with their audience, win the favor of consumers, and ultimately drive more sales. Live streaming enables your brand to immediately, directly, and in real-time reach, entertain, and communicate with your audience through video communication. It’s powerful, but comes with a suite of unique challenges.
Why Marketers Should Care
Live streaming has myriad applications for marketing and customer experience:
- The ultimate content: If you use an inbound-centric strategy that relies heavily on valuable, entertaining, informative content to draw in customers, then live streaming is the holy grail. Few channels are more engaging than interactive video. And once you’re done streaming, you can convert the recordings into video for future use elsewhere.
- Customer support: Want to earn customer loyalty? Try actively responding to customer concerns and fixing problems in front of an audience. That’s the kind of experience you can’t provide through any other medium.
- Powerful influencers: Some of the most powerful influencers online right now are streamers. Most are constantly active in engaging their audience, often streaming for hours a day. They also tend to have very targeted, niche audiences. Partnering with a streamer is a powerful way to introduce your brand in a favorable light to their viewers.
- Advertising: Even if you don’t stream yourself, you may still want to look into advertising on live streaming platforms. Paid media can be highly successful if it’s targeted by the right digital media staffing and catches viewers in an environment where they’re eager to interact.
Traditionally, technological and skill requirements created a high barrier to entry for live video content. That drove up costs and turned many organizations off the medium. But now nearly any individual or business can start streaming even on a tight budget. In fact, it may even be wiser to get your toes wet and experiment with live content before committing a huge budget toward it.
If you’ve previously been intimidated by live streaming, now’s a great time to give it a second look. Here’s what you need to get started without a big upfront investment.
Perhaps the easiest way to get started streaming is simply by using the smartphone in your pocket. It won’t create the crispest image or best-sounding audio, but you’d probably be surprised at how powerful even a mid-range smartphone camera can be when it’s using the right settings. Your audience will forgive you for a middling stream quality if the content you’re delivering is engaging, entertaining, valuable or informative. Moreover, you can stream through your smartphone from almost anywhere–including intriguing events or exotic locations that would draw more attention to your content.
Marketers interested in in higher-quality audio and video have plenty of economical options to choose from. Here are a couple I’d recommend:
- Logitech C922x Pro Stream Webcam (available on Amazon)
- The Mevo (available on mevo.com)
Where you stream is just as important as what you stream. If your video doesn’t go where you audience is, you might as well not bother.
Fortunately, there are a couple of platforms you can get started on for free that have large built-in audiences you can tap into.
The first I’d recommend is Facebook Live.
It’s hard to go wrong with the the King of Social Networks. Facebook has been heavily pushing its Live feature over the last few months. It’s free to get started, though you may want to consider some premium options if you see a lucrative opportunity.
Periscope is another streaming platform that’s very easy and cheap to adopt, especially if you think you’ll be using your smartphone as your primary camera. Many brands have already innovated creative ways to make use of this channel. For instance, GE combined it with drones to show off its brand new production facilities:
Test, Test, Test
Streaming is potentially viable in nearly industry, and can even be effective in B2B applications. But it’s probably not for everyone. Like most marketing ideas, it needs testing and refining in order to be a fully productive tactic. But since testing the waters requires such a modest investment, there’s no reason not to give it a chance!
Ready for a larger commitment to video marketing? Download my Complete Guide to Starting a Video Marketing Program from the Ground Up in 2017 (On a Budget). Get it here for free!