Getting Started with Social Media Streaming: What You Need to Know

Social media streaming has made the leap from novelty to necessity. Channels like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are racing to add live video to their platforms and brands are adjusting their social strategies accordingly.

Social Media Streaming is Taking Off

Audiences demand live video, and it’s easy to see why. Live video adds a human touch to posts that text and images can’t compete with. According to our survey, conducted with New York Magazine, 80% of respondents would rather watch live video from a brand than read a blog, and 82% prefer live video from a brand to social posts.

By livestreaming to channels like Periscope and Facebook Live, you’re creating eye-catching content that improves your positioning in both platforms’ algorithms. Social media streaming also gives you the opportunity to attract viewers and bring them back to your own website.

Sometimes maintaining a social media presence can feel a bit like spinning plates. With so many platforms competing for attention, it’s hard to focus your energy on just one. Many organizations struggle to give equal time to each platform.

It doesn’t have to be this way – streaming across social media platforms is easier than you think. We’ll also cover the where, why, and how to stream to social media and grow engagement for your organization.

How to Get Started with Social Media Streaming

The Destination: Facebook Live

Facebook revolutionized social media when it launched in 2006. Ten years later they launched Facebook Live, giving users the ability to stream live video directly to their Facebook pages. With over one billion users worldwide, it’s no surprise that publishers and brands have flocked to the popular platform.

Streaming to Facebook Live reaches your viewers where they already are. But like any social media platform, there are limitations that producers will need to consider. Streaming to Facebook Live should be part, but not all, of your live video strategy. Going live directly to Facebook is good for a short stream, but lacks the qualities and features of a professional livestream.

Combining Facebook Live with a dedicated live video solution, like Livestream, opens new possibilities for your content. Livestream’s live player embed lets you stream a portion of your live event to Facebook Live, before directing them back to your own properties. And with lead capture tools like forms, pay-per-view, and mid-roll ads, you can turn your live event into a source of revenue for your organization.

Facebook Live has made it easier than ever for their users to go live right away. But for larger organizations, you need a solution that empowers you to own your content and the way it’s distributed. Adding production value to your Facebook Live broadcast is a great way to attract an audience for your announcements or product launches.

How to Stream to Facebook Live

Anyone with an internet connection (or data plan, for mobile users) can stream to Facebook Live. The streaming platform was designed with the novice in mind, making it easy to stream directly to your profile or page.

If you’re streaming using a desktop computer, click the “live video” icon at the top of your newsfeed. A browser window will open up, activating your computer’s webcam. For mobile users, you can use the Facebook app. Simply tap the icon to update your status, and tap “Facebook Live.” Write a description for your video, set your audience (Public, Friends, etc.), and press “Go Live.”

If you’re looking to stream to Facebook and your website or app, or just want a more professional stream, Livestream is the only platform with built-in Facebook Live streaming tools. With Simulcast from Livestream, you can stream your content to Livestream and Facebook live at the same time. There’s no special code or configuration, just a simple on/off button in your settings.

The Destination: Periscope

In December 2016, Twitter integrated Periscope into their desktop and mobile sites. The up-to-the-minute algorithm of Twitter, plus Periscope’s ease of use, have made both platforms a destination for organizations of every kind.

How to Stream to Periscope

Users can stream directly to Periscope from a mobile device, or an encoder with Periscope Producer (beta), a test program designed for content creators and streamers.

Streaming to Periscope from a mobile device is simple: when you open the app, tap the “Broadcast” button and you’re live. Periscope released “Periscope Producer” in 2016, opening up their API to third-party streaming encoders. This release created new avenues for brands to stream to Periscope and, by extension, Twitter.

If you have access to Periscope Producer, you can easily stream from Livestream to Periscope or Twitter. Like streaming to Facebook Live, our Simulcast feature lets you easily add an RTMP link from Periscope to your Livestream account. This help center article has step-by-step instructions that will walk you through getting started. Once you’ve synced your Periscope and Livestream accounts, you can toggle streaming to Periscope on and off, and even stream to destinations Twitch and YouTube simultaneously.

The Destination: YouTube Live

Although it was the first to enter the online video space, YouTube has been playing catch-up with Facebook Live and Twitter’s Periscope. As of April 2017, verified content creators with over 1,000 subscribers can now livestream on YouTube.  

How to stream to YouTube

If you’re streaming to YouTube using a desktop computer, simply click on your profile picture from your YouTube account, followed by “Creator Studio Tools,” then “Live Streaming.” Once your channel is enabled, you have three options to launch your livestream: Stream now, Events, and Mobile. To “Stream now,” simply set up your stream by selecting YouTube as a provider and you’re good to go live. Streaming to YouTube via the “Events” dashboard is ideal if you prefer to announce a planned event before it goes live. There’s also the option to livestream via the YouTube mobile app but you must have over 100 subscribers on your channel.

If you’re a Premium or Enterprise Livestream customer and are looking for a more professional stream, you have the ability to push your stream from Livestream to YouTube directly through the “Stream now” option or the “Live Events” dashboard. Simply select YouTube under the simulcast tab in your Livestream account and sync the accounts. This help center article has step-by-step instructions to sync your YouTube and Livestream accounts.

Similar to simulcasting to Facebook Live and Periscope, all you need to do is log into your YouTube account and select your streaming destination. Once that’s set up, make sure the toggle switch for YouTube on your event page is set to “On.” Then go live to your event as you normally would through Livestream Producer or Livestream Studio and Livestream will automatically push the highest available quality from your encoder to YouTube, allowing your event to be viewed on both Livestream and YouTube simultaneously.

The Destination: Twitch

Since its acquisition by Amazon, in 2014, live gameplay platform Twitch has grown increasingly popular with users outside the video game community. Twitch’s integrated chat function is home to a sizable community of engaged viewers, and the average user spends up to 1.5 hours on the platform.

Content creators can access Twitch’s tip jar function, which allows viewers to virtually “tip” their favorite streamers. And popular accounts can earn capital based on their number of channel subscribers. Marketers are starting to pay attention, with brands like Old Spice and Jack’s Link streaming branded content to their Twitch channels.

How To Stream To Twitch

Twitch is a “hardware agnostic” platform, meaning you can stream to Twitch from your existing workflow, or with one of their recommended broadcasting apps. Like Facebook Live and Periscope, Twitch has a mobile app that lets you go live from your iOS or Android device.

Twitch’s interface also makes it easy to find the information you need to stream from a third-party encoder. Your Livestream account already has this functionality. Similar to streaming to Periscope, you can add Twitch’s RTMP URL to your settings and set Twitch as a streaming destination. And because Simulcast lets you stream to multiple platforms at once, you can stream to Twitch, Periscope, and other RTMP destinations from within your Livestream event.

Choosing the Right Destination

When you first begin to experiment with social media streaming, remember to take things one step at a time. It’s better to channel your efforts into one great live event than a handful of hard-to-manage, simultaneous video posts. You also want to make sure you have someone designated to manage and respond to comments or take questions on each channel.

Depending on your audience, they might prefer one platform over another, or have a presence on many places at once. After you become more familiar with social media streaming, it’ll be easy to expand your strategy to include these other destinations.

Diversifying is a great way to reach viewers on multiple channels – your strategy should accommodate those viewers. With tools like Simulcast from Livestream, it’s easy to branch out and take your live video strategy to new heights.

Ready to start reaching your audience on social media? Download our Facebook Live Guide for interesting use cases, workflow suggestions, strategy tips, and more.

[Download the Guide]

[Case Study] How ISC Sports Network Blends Live Streaming with Video Subscriptions

When Greg Maish, President of ISC Sports Network, began using Vimeo Livestream, his goal was to live stream sports from around Indiana into the homes of surrounding communities. “We had this vision of a single place where people can come and see local sports,” he said. “We wanted it to be accessible and readily available, for all of our sports fans.”

In just four years, ISC Sports has grown from strictly live streaming games into a full-fledged online channel, using Vimeo OTT to offer live and on-demand sports content. Learn more about how Maish used Vimeo to scale his local sports business, grow his audience, and monetize video content in our interview below.

Growing from live streams to on-demand video

Working in telecommunications for most of his career, Maish understood the trajectory of cord-cutting behavior, especially those who opt into OTT content, or services that go “over the top” of traditional cable providers. “At the end of the day, we all are TV consumers — but we are also very much OTT consumers, whether it’s Roku, Amazon, Chromecast, or even on our mobile devices,” he said.

After digging into his viewers’ behavior in Vimeo Livestream’s analytics, Maish made an interesting discovery. Despite the in-the-moment experience of live sports, there was a surge in broadcast views after the events ended. “It’s an interesting dynamic. We’ll get maybe the same number of views that we get during the game itself,” he said.

With this intel, Maish saw an opportunity to grow his audience with OTT. “Vimeo OTT was the piece that was missing,” he said. “We wanted a ready-to-go, fully developed solution. It’s been a real easy way in [to the OTT industry],” he said, referring to the simple content management tools and branded apps available in the platform.

Generating and growing ad revenue with Vimeo

For many broadcasters, advertising is a critical source of revenue. Admittedly, “local sports is not always that easy to sell,” Maish said (ISC Sports competes with 10 Division I NCAA colleges in the Hoosier state). Using Vimeo OTT’s analytics, Maish was able to pinpoint the number of viewers his productions brought in, where those views came from, their watch time, and more.

“[The analytics] give us great feedback on stuff we would normally guess on,” he said, and unlike other television measurement models, the data is precise. “It’s not a guess, it’s not an estimation — it’s really what’s happening.” Providing quantitative data to advertisers, and subsequently guaranteeing that their product or service will be seen, makes for a straightforward transaction.

Tips to live stream sports

ISC Sports is a prime example of starting scrappy and scaling quickly. How did they achieve their success with building a local sports network in just four years?

1. Know your vision. “You’ve really got to have a vision when you get started,” he said, while acknowledging that it can (and likely will) change. “Ours has evolved over time.

2. Top-notch, reliable distribution. Your business won’t gain traction unless you’re broadcasting quality content to bring in and maintain viewership. “That’s where having a partner like Vimeo plays into our business strategy,” he said. “With Vimeo, we know that when we’re out streaming, it will work. It’s always just worked, and that’s been a key ingredient in our success.”

In the end, Maish remains invested in and reliant on Vimeo to support ISC because of the team behind the platforms. “One thing we’ve learned as both a community-facing service provider and from dealing with vendors, is that loyalty is everything to us,” he said. “If we feel secure in that relationship, we will preach it from the rooftops.”

“When a vendor does what they say they will do and they do it well, we will be vocal to say, ‘These are the guys you want.’ Looking at what we have with Vimeo, we will share the good news with anyone who needs to hear.”

Engaged audiences spark business growth

Through their highly-engaged audience and growing advertising base, ISC Sports now broadcasts all over Indiana. “Our production team continues to grow,” Maish said. “Even for a local game, we may have 10 guys there doing things. We’ve had to evolve into multiple crews, trying to cover as much as we can.”

Fortunately, as demand grows, so does ISC Sports’ bottom line. “What we’re spending is very manageable,” he said, referring to Vimeo’s Livestream and OTT price points. “[It’s] something we can not only pay for, but it makes it a profitable endeavor for us.”

Learn more about how to grow your business — and audience — with on-demand video in our guidebook, The 2018 OTT Revolution. By analyzing 1.3B consumer data points, we took the guesswork out of how viewers consume and subscribe to video content, empowering you to focus on expanding your reach and maintaining subscribers.