You’re doing live video? Great. Now DO IT BETTER.

Moving your live stream strategy from a cell phone camera to a legit broadcast setup doesn’t cost what it used to. Many businesses that don’t blink an eye at a $200,000 ad spend on FB then turn around and use an iphone for their live video on the same platform. But just because its a live stream on a social network doesn’t mean it has to suck. Add some production value. Clean it up. Use multiple cameras. Use a stabilizer. Content creators: time to step it up!

I just watched a #HootLive discussion (see link above), which is a live streamed series from Hootsuite. I watched it on Facebook. Now I could be wrong, but I’d bet their audience retention was pretty poor. It wasn’t because of the content, it was because of the video quality. Regardless of how good your content or message is, folks won’t stick around for long if the delivery looks and sounds terrible. Here’s what I noticed:

  • Not balanced. The guy on the left was barely audible at times, unless you cranked your speakers. The speaker sitting in the center was substantially louder, and then Cam, the guy on the right, was also too quiet. It looked like they were all wearing lavs, so balancing their levels should have been a super-easy, quick adjustment for whoever was monitoring the audio.
  • The picture was way too dark. I’m sure they used lighting, but they either need more of it or need to iris up on their cameras. Cam popped because of his freaky styley shirt, but the other two blended into the couch.
  • They used one camera. All good if you’re running and gunning, but if you’re in a sit-down-studio situation you should use multiple cameras. It will be more dynamic and visually interesting, and you’ll get much better audience retention and engagement.

When I was brought onboard to Fit Foods in 2013, establishing us as a market leader with our LIVE video content was a big part of my mandate. We started streaming live shows to Youtube that same year. Here’s an example of one of our recent MUTANT Live shows, which we stream to both YouTube and Facebook.

We use a Tricaster 460 encoder and control surface, a Talkshow to patch in guests on Skype, 2 Canon XF305 cameras and 2 GoPro Hero 4 cameras. Then of course wireless mics for everyone, and a separate audio mixer. Add that all together and its about a $50,000 package that will make your live streams look like broadcast quality.

Don’t have $50,000? No problem. Get a Tricaster mini and a few $1000 prosumer cameras and your live streams will look better than any of your competitors. Price tag? $5000.

Live video is so hot right now, (like Hansel), and it’s not going anywhere. Anybody can do it, and certainly that’s part of it’s power. But if you want to set yourself apart, (and maintain your status as the vanguard of social media, like Hootsuite), then try raising your production quality. Yes, the live stream from right in the middle of the action works fine from a cell phone, but if you’re planning your live streams as sit-down, announced events, it’s time to step up your standards. It doesn’t take much, and trust me, your audience will thank you!


If you have any questions on our equipment setup or our live strategy feel free to drop me a line!

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