Livestreaming – An Introduction


Every morning when I get into the office, I fire up my laptop, grab some coffee, and immediately navigate to my favorite online streamer – MrHappy. A full time streamer, he – and thousands of people like him – make a living out of livestreaming himself playing games or practicing a creative art in front of a live audience. His stream – and the community that he’s created – are a perfect background to help pass the time as I work.

For a long time, Twitch held the market share on livestreaming. A break-off of the now-defunct, Twitch focuses specifically on games and gaming-related streams. But YouTube now has live streams you can tune into, and they don’t have to be gaming related.  Even Facebook, as of recently, has jumped into the fight with Facebook Live.  Further still, mobile apps such as Periscope and Meerkat allow users to stream their lives from the comfort of their own phones.

With livestreaming becoming more and more commonplace, and everyday people stepping in to create content, is there a place in the marketing world for livestreaming? Should -every- business attempt livestreaming?

Livestreaming Content

There’s three key steps to starting a good livestream: good content, a video source, and a way to broadcast it.  The content piece, as with any content, is up to you.  There are, however, a few questions to consider:

  • Is there something special that I can bring to the content that I present?
  • Does my content benefit from discussion in a livestream?
  • Is this something that – once the livestream is over – I can repurpose?
  • Do I have the personality to hold a ‘discussion’ in a livestream format?

If the answer to any or all of those is ‘yes’, then you’ve got a pretty good shot at having a successful.

The last one is key – it’s one thing to be able to get in front of a camera and record a video; it’s another entirely to be able to hold – basically – a speaking seminar with a full discussion.

Livestreaming: The Source

While most people are content streaming from a phone, certain content may benefit from a desktop source: a webcam and a shared desktop screen.  There are a lot of different methods for this, but I like to take a page from the game streamers and use the most recommended streaming software: OBS. OBS (Open Broadcasting Software) is a free program that allows you to set up your system to stream.  The good news: it streams straight to Twitch, Facebook Live, or YouTube and allows you to record a local file (for editing) as well.

This tutorial doesn’t cover the set-up of OBS, but suffice it to say you can set up webcams, shared desktops, overlays, and any other manner of setup you need.

Sample OBS setup – this is my FFXIV LiveStream setup with a Webcam (and frame), image overlays, window capture, and (not shown) notifications from Twitch.

So, what could you livestream?

The most popular types of livestreaming are:

  • Live demos – demonstrating a tutorial or how-to
  • Editorial – holding a discussion about a topic or product with your audience
  • Q&A – most livestreams have comments enabled; you can use these comments to field live questions
  • Panel – if you use Skype or a similar platform, you can broadcast this and get multiple people on the livestream

There are tons of other types of content you can livestream – it’s up to you to determine what the best type is for your content!

Livestreaming Destinations

There are a few major destinations for content.  It -is- possible to stream to multiple locations at once (with a service like Joicaster), but if you want to pick one, here are your best bets:

  • Facebook Live – there’s an API you can hook into the OBS settings to let you broadcast straight into Facebook Live. It’s much higher quality to use an edited source versus using a live phone. Caveat: you can -only- stream to Facebook Live by itself, as per their terms of service.
  • YouTube – YouTube allows livestreaming now, and will automatically back up your videos in whichever channel you decide to stream to.
  • Periscope – Yes, periscope has a public API you can stream to.  Here’s an in-depth explanation on how it works.
  • Twitch – Good for gaming, game-related, and creative streams.  There is an IRL stream category for “catch all” stuff, but it’s not used right now except for gamers doing non-gaming related things.

Shoutout in the comments below if you decide to try livestreaming.  As for me, I’m doing a gaming stream every Tuesday night on Twitch (my Final Fantasy runs, since people kept asking me about it), and I’m debating bringing a weekly WordPress stream with a Q&A format.  Any questions? Shout out below!

Happy streaming!