Live video has been available on social media for just over a year now, and it’s only becoming more powerful. Case in point: the House of Representatives sit-in, staged by Democrats, wasn’t broadcast live on television. C-Span’s cameras were forced off. So members and attendees took to their smartphones and streamed the speeches on Periscope and Facebook Live.

It was a seminal moment for social streaming.

Just days afterwards, YouTube made live video available on its mobile app. Facebook believes so strongly in live video that it gives those streams expanded reach and presence in the newsfeed. Periscope, one of the early options, is stumbling a bit, but still draws thousands of viewers per day.

Are you sold yet? Maybe these numbers will help. In its first year, Periscope hosted more than 200 million live streams, and had 10 million users in its first 3 months. Facebook Live hasn’t released user stats but it’s quickly overtaking Periscope in popularity, if that offers some perspective. Millions of people are using and watching live video streams. If you want to connect with these people, you might want to consider live video too.

The fun thing about social video is you can go live anywhere, anytime. If you’re giving a motivating talk, stream it, and bring your fans along. Share a few moments of your day, some thoughts you had on a current event, or schedule a Q&A session. Connecting in this very personal way with your social tribes builds community and brand loyalty, and can even help deepen thought leadership.

If you want to give live social video a try, keep these best practices in mind:

  • Use a tripod, if at all possible. Nothing is harder to watch than shaky video.
  • Lighting is everything. Check your lighting first before hitting the ‘live’ button. You want to be clearly visible: no harsh shadows, glare, or back-lighting.
  • Be your authentic self.
  • Keep the videos on the shorter side. No longer than 15 minutes unless you’re sharing very compelling material—a live news event or something along those lines.
  • Promote your stream in advance, but don’t be afraid to launch a spur-of-the-moment stream either.
  • Check your hair, make-up, and teeth first. You want to look your best.
  • Respond to people posting questions and comments. Be as interactive as possible.
  • Remember, viewers watch because they benefit. It’s not about you–it’s about them.
  • Have fun. If you have a great time (and great content), your viewers will come back!

Just like any tool or platform, don’t give it a try because everyone else is–try live video if it makes sense for your brand, and as a way to connect with your audience. Choose your live platform the same way. Go where you can reach the most people in the most comfortable way. Right now, I think Facebook Live is the best option for most thought leaders and brands, but I’m eager to see how YouTube streaming performs.

Tell me something! Are you ready to go live with your thought leadership?


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