Live streams are a very hot topic right now.
People want content to be instantly available. Services such as Periscope, Facebook Live, YouTube Live Streams and Twitch are extremely popular and their user base is growing rapidly.
Other social platforms or apps including Instagram, Snapchat and Messenger are also heavily focussed on live broadcasts.
Live content is the big thing for 2017, it’s so current, so up-to-date, it’s happening RIGHT NOW.
This is a trend which can’t be ignored.
What opportunities does that give us as public engagement practitioners?
Trying to arrange a time, date and location suitable for a number of people is hard work. It’s a challenge in itself. Things happen which can’t be helped, problems arise, key participants are unable to attend at the last minute, oh – and pipes can burst in your meeting venue.
Running an online discussion allows a wider audience to have their say and removes the physical barriers to participation. Of course, with technology involved, there are other barriers to consider which will be discussed in more detail further down in this post.
You may be able to reach individuals who would never attend a public meeting. You also may gain insightful information, some people are better communicating with written word than spoken word. You could use live streaming as part of a wider engagement process.
How do I even ‘go live’?
With a tap of a button, literally. You need to be using a device with a camera, such as your smart phone. For enhanced sound quality, you might also consider using a clip-on lapel microphone or its more expensive bluetooth/wireless equivalent. In most cases, the in-built microphone will be fine if you’re just getting started with live streaming.
How to go live on Twitter
- Download the Periscope App
- Log in using your Twitter account details
- Start a new broadcast
- Enter some information about your broadcast
Make sure to share the fact that you’re live! Share the link to the broadcast so your followers can join in. It’s a good idea to create some buzz in advance of your broadcast, let people know the time and date you’ll be live. People will be able to find you on Periscope – but your contacts and followers will have more of an impact.
How to go live on Facebook
- Open the Facebook App or Mobile website
- Underneath your status box – tap ‘Live’
- Enter a few bits of extra info and that’s it!
- Congratulations! You’re now live!
Facebook will actively notify your followers moments after you are live – so choosing a good time to go live (when your followers are online – check your insights/analytics for this data) will be useful if you want high numbers of participants. However, you should also follow the advice above and promote the fact that you will be live, share it across your other platforms etc.
Ideas for live streaming
Whilst you’re live, viewers have the opportunity to interact and engage with you by typing comments into the ‘chat box’ – you can respond to these comments/questions verbally, during your broadcast. You should say (for example) “Morgan has just asked what will happen to the transcript of this session?” and then go on to answer his question.
If you have large numbers of viewers, have an assistant or two helping you filter the questions on a separate screen!
This is a great way to share information to people who primarily work in offices. Don’t forget that your broadcasts are also saved afterwards and people who missed out can catch-up later by watching the video.
Live feedback sessions
If you’re feeling brave – you could gather feedback during a live session. You could hold up prompt cards with questions on them – or write them up on a flipchart next to you for the broadcast. You could also use this as an opportunity to provide feedback to engaged participants or address feedback you’ve received.
Competitions / give-aways
If your organisation is in a position to run a competition, this is acts as a great incentive for increasing viewership and engagement. You could complete the prize draw live and announce the winner, ask them to leave a comment expressing how happy they are!
What about the barriers and limitations to live streaming?
This is something very important to consider. When you’re live on any platform there are things which may (or may not) go wrong. It’s a dilemma I’m sure everyone who has ever been live on TV, radio or online has faced!
The first thing to worry about is technology failing. The last thing you want is to have a pixelated face and a voice that sound like a robot! Having high-speed reliable internet access is essential if you’re going to be live streaming. It’s also pretty important for your users/viewers to be using a reliable connection too.
Not every area in Wales, the UK or the world has access to a reliable internet connection. Things are improving but you should definitely consider this factor when deciding whether a live broadcast is appropriate for your audience.
Also: make sure your phone battery is fully-charged or you’ll find yourself at a loose end when you get that dreaded “Low battery” warning. You can use portable chargers or solar panel chargers if you’re outdoors (and if the sun is out!)
Hosting a bilingual or multilingual stream would prove challenging and holding side-by-side sessions would require twice the resources. However, it wouldn’t be impossible.
If you’re in Wales (or anywhere else working bilingually) then you could have a native speaker available during the live stream who is able to answer questions in welsh and translate for non-native speakers. You could make it clear to viewers that they are welcome to interact in welsh/preferred language if they choose and if you have the ability to translate and respond to them. Or, you could hold separate sessions at different times in chosen languages – you would need to evaluate what works best for your target audience.
Have you hosted a bilingual live stream?
We’d love to hear from you! Get in touch if you’re interested in writing a guest blog for Participation Cymru on this topic.
Understandably, going live anywhere has its risks and you need to weigh up these risks before committing yourself to a live broadcast.
However, young people and busy professionals are constantly seeking new ways to consume content and the recent popularity of live streams simply can’t be ignored. It would be a missed opportunity for public services and third sector organisations, should they not get on board with this method of engaging with their audience.
Try not to be too risk averse when experimenting with new methods such as this. You could do a trial broadcast when you’re out walking your dog before broadcasting something at work. You’ll be surprised what you can watch on Periscope!
(Note – Periscope and other services mentioned here feature people who are currently broadcasting live. Whilst its front page is monitored and we’ve never encountered anything inappropriate when browsing these broadcasts, we can’t be responsible for what is live at the time you click the link!)
Do you have any experience with live streaming as a public engagement practitioner? Share your story in the comments below.