As planners worldwide consider face-to-face alternatives in light of the COVID-19 coronavirus, many will be stepping more deeply into virtual events. Whether you’re just getting started or expanding your online meeting offerings, here’s a great rundown of some of your options.
The web is designed to connect people all over the world, which is what the meeting and event industry is all about. So why not use the resources at your disposal? Livestreaming provides agility and a longer reach to your event. Not only are you reaching the live audience in front of you, but also the online audience that is unable or unwilling to travel.
Among other myths about livestreaming, there has been some question as to whether streaming events will cannibalize some of your live audience. However, according to a study by Digitell, between 20 percent and 40 percent of the virtual audience will invest in the event next time, providing a positive rate of attendance (ROA).
Whether you’re just starting this venture into livestreaming or you’re a veteran looking for new resources, the plethora of choices can seem daunting. Below are some quick tips and basic information about livestreaming options to get you started.
- Use a high-quality camera setup if streaming for a large audience or for a more professional broadcast. Built-in cameras on phones and computers are getting better, but there is a still a vast difference between them and a professional camera and microphone.
- Many of the following free live-streaming services are social media platforms, which provides a perfect opportunity to engage with the audience before, during and after the event (not to mention easy promotion via speakers). That said, social media may not work for white-label branding, but it is up to you and your vision.
- When choosing a streaming service, keep in mind monetization, privacy/security and tech support.
- For more info on additional strategies for streaming, visit the MPI blog.
Facebook Live is free, quick, easy and has the ability to reach a large audience pool from a mobile phone or computer. However, if using a computer, you must download broadcasting applications such as Open Broadcaster Software (OBS), Wirecast or XSplit, most of which have free and paid options.
RELATED STORY: Download the Live Streaming Checklist
One of the best aspects of Facebook Live is its internal reacting and commenting within the live feed. Audiences can use emojis and live chat, providing direct engagement and interaction with you and each other. If you don’t want the chat open to the public, you can also choose who sees and interacts with the feed by broadcasting to either the public, friends or yourself. Facebook also provides “Insights” into your video by giving you basic data about your stream, such as how many viewers are watching and when.
Caveats: Longevity is not a strength for Facebook Live. The scrolling capability of Facebook makes it difficult to keep viewers consistently watching an entire video. Unfortunately, it is unlikely that people scrolling through their timeline will find your video again as Facebook videos cannot be found via search engines such as Google.
YouTube Live is free and versatile. You can stream from your mobile device, a webcam or a professional set up using an encoder (some of which are not free). If you don’t already have a channel, you’ll need to create one in order to stream—but once that’s in place, you can go live immediately or pre-schedule a live event.
Your YouTube Live video’s reach will extend far beyond the original broadcasting time as once the stream has ended, you can upload it as a video with keywords geared for search engine optimization (SEO).
One drawback of YouTube Live is that it if you don’t already have YouTube subscribers, your video may not initially reach as large of an audience.
For events with a more laidback approach and greater online presence, Discord has recently unveiled the Discord Streamkit. As the name implies, the new program includes Discord and multiple add-ons to assist in livestreaming. Although to be clear, you do have to create a Discord server if you don’t already have one.
Some of the add-ons include Patreon (an easy way for patrons to donate), Nightbot (moderation tools for spam, inappropriate words/phrases, other inappropriate communication), Muxy (analysis add-on for metrics) and MEE6 (fun moderator that includes “leveling” for audience members who interact the most).
The kit also hosts Twitch integration, YouTube integration and Mixer Integration while also including some of the aforementioned broadcasting applications (i.e., XSplit and OBS). What’s more, although all of these applications are available, you can mix and match to best suit your needs.
RELATED STORY: Strategies and considerations for low-cost live streaming
Although Vimeo Livestream is a paid service, they are also high-quality with extended capabilities. You can simultaneously stream full HD video to social media and your personal websites straight from Vimeo. They also have built-in engagement tools, video metrics and video editing.
Customers can try any Vimeo streaming plans for free for 30 days; plans range from $7-$75/month. To live stream, you must have the $75/month premium plan.
IBM Cloud Video boasts customers such as Food Network and Mazda and is the most ideal for white-label branding.
This service is available for multi-screen broadcasting and is scalable for large and small events so you’re not paying for services you’re not using. IBM Cloud will also help find marketing resources and provide in-depth analytics on your video. They also have a content delivery network (CDN) to avoid a network overload and have an emphasis on security.
Monthly plans vary from $99-$999 but includes viewer hours, video storage, HD broadcasting, support, live polling and control over where you embed your videos. If you’re not sure if you want to commit, they offer a 30-day free trial.
Disclaimer: This is not a comprehensive list. If you know of a service that you have used that is not listed, please leave a comment for fellow readers.