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How to Live Stream: The Complete Beginner's Guide

So, we are all being forced to find creative ways to digitally connect with others from within our homes. While it's often difficult to maintain our sense of community while remaining indoors, one effective method for engaging with people real-time is live streaming. With the real estate industry virtually forced into the digital world almost overnight, we thought it essential to put together a step by step guide to get started on live streaming for those new to this space.

Live streaming may sound complex and technical, but it's super easy to use and pretty easy to navigate thanks to a wide variety of easy-to-use online platforms, you can produce your own live videos in a matter of minutes.

First, let's check out the equipment you will need to live stream and then we can check out the platforms most effective.

Live streaming equipment

Learning how to live stream isn’t difficult, but it does require a few tools.

  • Strong Internet connection. Be sure that the place you’re filming has reliable internet connectivity.

  • Quality microphone. Most would say rather than use the microphone on your laptop or mobile phone, you’ll need to get a professional microphone for clear sound and minimal background noise. While this is certainly important, you can acheive top quality sound from a laptop or phone microphone depending on where you are filming. A small quiet room such as a bedroom, lounge room or office is ideal given the size of the room, limted distractions and you voice not being carried very far.

  • Good video camera. To improve the visual quality of your videos while staying within budget, opt for an HD webcam you can attach to your computer. You can also use the camera on your mobile phone, as long as you won’t require zoom. Alternatively, you can invest in a professional camera. Look into the types of cameras that are best for casual filming, such as handheld video cameras, or mirrorless and DSLR cameras. I have the iPhone Pro and find that's more than enough for the quality I need for socials. For the past few years I've been using a range of cameras and setups but my old iPhone 10 camera quality was fine.

  • Tripod. If you’re filming using a camera or your phone, you’re going to need a tripod to hold the device and keep the video steady. These are super cheap on eBay. I picked up 3 recently for around $16 and they were delivered within 5 business days.

  • Encoder. An encoder is a tool that takes your content and converts it into a streamable format for the web. Not every live stream platform requires an encoder, but it’s worth having to keep your options open. Streamlabs OBS is an encoding software that is easy to download and use.

Live streaming platforms

After you choose your equipment, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with the different live streaming platforms. You may want to upload to just one, but you can also upload to all of them to maximize your reach.

Popular live streaming sites include:

  • YouTube

  • Facebook

  • Instagram

Your choice of platforms depends largely on your audience and goals. Using your own professional website as your live streaming platform allows you complete control over the way you display your content and shape your story.

At the same time, you can use live video as a social media marketing tactic. This is particularly useful if you’re a social media influencer and you want to promote your brand on Facebook or Instagram.

Let’s go over the steps for how to live stream on each of these different platforms:

How to live stream on YouTube

For those interested in video marketing or vlogging, getting on YouTube is a must. While most of your videos probably won’t need to be broadcasted in real time, live streaming does come in handy for when you want to interact with your audience directly.

Live streaming on YouTube can be done using your mobile phone, a webcam, or a separate camera. However, it’s important to note that you already need to be a successful YouTuber with at least 1,000 subscribers to be able to live stream from your phone.

If you’re using a camera, you’ll need to use an encoder to live stream on YouTube. Here’s how:

  1. Start a YouTube channel.

  2. Enable your channel for live streaming by going to Creator Studio tools, then clicking the “Live Streaming” tab.

  3. Download an encoder (if not using a webcam).

  4. Click the upload icon - which looks like a grey video camera - in the upper right corner.

  5. Click “Go Live.” This will take you to the Live Control Room.

  6. Select “Live Stream” at the top of the page.

  7. Add details about your video. You’ll have the option to enter a title and description, select a privacy setting, schedule your live stream, add a custom thumbnail, and more.

  8. Start your encoder, then go back to the live dashboard.

  9. Click “Go Live” on the right.

  10. To end the stream, click “End Stream.”

Keep in mind that if you’re using a webcam rather than a separate camera, you don’t need to use an encoder to live stream on YouTube. Instead, you can simply click the grey video camera icon in the upper right corner, select “Go Live,” and then select “Webcam.”

How to live stream on Facebook

Another option is to broadcast from your Facebook account. Facebook calls its live streaming feature Facebook Live, a term you may have heard before. While YouTube restricts mobile video to channels with a high follower count, Facebook makes it easy for anyone to broadcast from their phones.

Facebook Live has exploded in popularity since its launch in 2016. Research has shown that the time people spend watching Facebook Live has quadrupled in the past year, with live videos generating higher engagement rates and performing better with Facebook’s algorithm.

Here’s how to live stream on Facebook directly from your phone:

  1. In the Facebook app, tap the camera icon to the left of the search bar.

  2. Give Facebook access to your camera and microphone when prompted.

  3. Switch to “Live” at the bottom of your screen.

  4. Select your privacy and posting settings.

  5. Now, add some details: Write a description, choose a location, tag your friends, and more.

  6. Add lenses, filters, and drawings to your upcoming video by tapping the magic wand icon.

  7. Click “Start Live Video,” and start broadcasting! Note that you can broadcast for a maximum of 90 minutes.

  8. To end the broadcast, click “Finish.”

  9. If you like, click “Post your video replay” so that your video gets published on either your personal wall or Facebook Business page.

If you’re broadcasting from your webcam, the process is quite similar. Just go to Facebook, click the “Write something” box, and tap the “See All” option in the menu. From there, you can click “Start a Live Video.”

How to live stream on Instagram

Now for our final live streaming platform: Instagram. You can think of live streaming as a longer version of Instagram Stories. Instagram live videos are meant to be light, casual, and fun, rather than professional. They show your audience what you are doing right now, and in doing so gives them a behind-the-scenes glimpse into your life.

Not only is this an effective way to promote your Instagram account, but it’s also an important strategy to build authentic relationships with your viewers so that they can get to know the individual behind the personal brand, or everything that makes your company unique.

As with everything else on Instagram, you take live video directly from your mobile phone. This is how to do it:

  1. Tap the camera icon in the top left of the feed. Alternatively, you can swipe right from anywhere in the feed.

  2. Scroll to “Live” at the bottom of the screen.

  3. Tap the circular recording button. You’re now broadcasting live!

  4. When you’re finished, tap “End” in the top right.

  5. If you wish to share a replay of your live video, you can post it on your story by tapping “Share to Story.” You can even add hashtags and location stickers to your story to make it discoverable. Keep in mind that like all Instagram Stories, it will disappear in 24 hours.

Live streaming best practices

While each of these platforms operates a little differently, they do require similar techniques for maximizing your success. Regardless of the platform you choose, you should keep the following strategies in mind:

  • Know your audience. From the platform you choose to the time you stream your video, every aspect of your broadcast should reflect the interests and preferences of your audience. Be sure to stream your video at a time that’s convenient for your users, and on a platform that’s easy and intuitive for them to use. You should also make sure that the style and tone of your video reflects your brand identity. Whether you opt to keep it casual, professional, or inspirational, speak to your audience in a way that resonates with them.

  • Promote your event. Schedule your event ahead of time, and promote it so that your audience knows when and where to show up. Be sure to announce your event on a variety of channels, such as your website, social media pages, email newsletters, printed flyers, and more.

  • Practice beforehand. While your live video shouldn’t sound scripted, you should make a mental note of what you’re going to say. Before you hit that stream button, jot down some bullet points and rehearse your presentation. You should also double check to make sure your internet connection is strong, your equipment is working smoothly, and your environment is free of distractions. Even if you’re shooting a casual Instagram video, scoping out your surroundings can help you avoid any mistakes or awkward moments.

  • Interact with viewers. What makes live streaming such a popular and effective tool is that it allows you to engage with your audience real-time. In other words, your viewers can leave comments during your video, and you can respond right away. This is the primary benefit of live streaming a video, rather than simply posting it. Be sure to do this, as it fosters a sense of community and brings viewers closer to your brand.

  • Follow up. Even as your video draws to a close, you’ll want to maintain the connection you’ve just built with your audience. Keep the momentum going by telling your viewers where they can get more information, providing them with additional resources, and sharing your contact details. If your goal is to promote a specific offer or service, you can also provide them with a link to a relevant landing page. If you’re planning to live stream again, be sure to announce that, too.

  • Edit and manage your content. Once you’ve stopped filming, you may be perfectly fine posting your video as is. However, if you want your content to appear more professional, you’ll probably need to make some minor edits. Save your video to your computer, and use a video editing software - such as iMovie or the majority of programs in the adobe suite - to trim off any glitches, add titles and video captions, and more. You can also try these simple video tips to enhance your content even further. Then, upload your edited video to your website and other platforms of your choice.

That's pretty much it. In a world that's thrown us all into uncharted territory, we hope we are able to continue to bring you insight & understanding how these platforms work and how you can get the most out of them. By following these steps, you’ll be able to hit the ground running in no time, and as always, please feel free to reach out if we can ever help.

Rebecca & Nic


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