(Note – This post originally appeared on the PNConnect blog)
The consumer marketplace loves a good rivalry — Ford vs. Chevy, Windows vs. Mac, Star Trek vs. Star Wars (note: the second option is the correct one in each of these matchups). For social media enthusiasts, the hot rivalry of the moment is Meerkat vs. Periscope, two apps that make it easy to live-stream video to your followers.
Both apps are newcomers, and both have seen rapid adoption among brand publishers who are eager to stay on the cutting edge of social media. But live-streaming itself is hardly new. The now-defunct Justin.tv made a big splash in 2007 by allowing anyone to stream live video to individual channels on its site, and YouTube has long allowed users to set up live broadcasts. The critical addition from Meerkat and Periscope is painless live-streaming on mobile devices.
Still, we can look to the longer history of online live-streaming to define some best practices. Whether or not Meerkat and Periscope stick around, these tried-and-true tactics will prove useful whenever you’re considering live-streaming.
- Know your copyright law and other applicable restrictions: Don’t rebroadcast someone else’s video, and know the rules for video and pictures at an event. Simply put, make sure you have the right to broadcast whatever is appearing in your stream — events, logos, people, and anything else.
- Have a plan: Since everything happens live, make sure you know what you want to shoot before you start streaming. Like attacking a Death Star, you only get one shot. While it’s fine — even expected — to be a little rough around the edges, you don’t want major missteps.
- Define your audience: Set out to meet the needs of a specific audience, and make sure they’ll find your content compelling enough to watch. Live-streaming is a niche area of social media right now, so it’s okay to target a niche audience if the content is a natural fit.
- Promote, promote, promote: For bigger events especially, such as Q&As, and major news announcements, make sure people know when you’ll be broadcasting so they’ll actually tune in. Both Meerkat and Periscope allow you to set upcoming events that show you’ll be broadcasting at a certain time. Make sure you leverage other networks for publicity, too.
- Keep it professional: Again, while there’s certainly room for things to look a bit less polished, ensure the person shooting the video has a good handle on the basics, like how to frame a shot.
COMMUNITY GROWTH AND ENGAGEMENT
- Sync to existing accounts: Both Meerkat and Periscope connect to Twitter, and Meerkat talks to Facebook, too. In addition to promoting individual events, make sure you’re also encouraging users to follow your Periscope or Meerkat account so they’re notified and in place for future events.
- Engage with the audience: Engagement can be tricky, since the person shooting the video may also be responding to viewers. Still, when possible, take the time to answer questions and interact with viewers.
- Create a strong call-to-action: When the stream starts, make sure the promotional updates sell the video effectively, making a good case for why someone should bother watching. You need to convince followers that your video is so good that they should drop whatever they’re doing and immediately tune in.
- Gather available metrics: Metrics for both Meerkat and Periscope are still fairly sparse. Familiarize yourself with them in advance so you can set expectations and have a plan for gathering the data you need.
- Establish clear goals: What do you want to achieve through your live-stream? Are you simply targeting a certain number of viewers, or are you hoping for some other next action? Make sure you define the target end result clearly at the start of the process and keep it in mind throughout.