Livestreaming at Duke: How, When, Why
Unless you’ve been living under the proverbial rock, you’ve probably started to pick up on the fact that livestreaming is a pretty big deal on social media these days. We do a bit of it at Duke. In this post, I’ll share with you how we do it, and the strategy that drives our livestreams.
How do I livestream? I want to, but I don’t know where to start.
You have a couple of different tech options, depending on how fancy you want to get (and how much money you want to spend).
Get it done with just your phone and a few additional pieces of gear.
- Your phone
And maybe a few other things:
This is the cheapest, quickest way to get your livestreaming off the ground, and you can do it with as much informality as you like. The nice thing about livestreaming is that people expect it to be a little bit rough and behind-the-scenes looking.
You can also use YouTube’s built-in livestreaming if you want to do a hangouts-style broadcast with several hosts interacting remotely. All you need is some time to set up, and for each of your hosts to have a laptop with a webcam. We do this style for admitted student chats, and we’ve written a really long and comprehensive blog post on that!
On the Cheap
At Duke, we tend to use a version of livestreaming that’s a bit of an upgrade from the quick & dirty version, but still not a full production. Try using your web browser and webcam for a Facebook livestream, or upgrade to using software like OBS (free!) or Wirecast (not free) with a webcam and mic. Add branded elements like lower thirds for more impact.
At Duke, we use a set-up that includes:
- A laptop (with a wired Ethernet connection if you can get one– it always works better than WiFi)
- A webcam
- An XLR mic
- An XLR-to-USB adapter
We used a set-up like this for this year’s class photo livestream:
It’s portable and fun, but still delivers fairly high quality.
If we’re looking for something that looks more like a live TV show, we hire the experts. At Duke, that means Media Services. They can do a beautiful set-up with multiple cameras, great sound and additional graphics. You could get something close to this if you had a studio set-up of your own with a soundboard and a broadcast-quality camera or three.
We livestream Duke’s commencement ceremony this way.
But what things should I livestream and what should be my livestreaming goals?
Great livestreams all have a few things in common:
- They’re interactive!
- Things like faculty chats are great for this sort of video. Ask a question to get things started.
- Make sure to also take time to stop and respond to comments and questions.
- They’re at a time of day that works for people. After all, the point is to get people to tune in LIVE.
- You might have to experiment with a few different times of day before you land on the right one.
- They’re consistent.
- Think of your livestream like a TV program. If people know when to tune in regularly, they will!
- Think about a weekly show or a monthly event that you could livestream.
- They drive toward your strategic goals.
- Of course everything in your content plan should drive toward your strategic goals, and livestreams are no different. If your goal is to generate leads, then you need a way to capture that information. If your goal is to launch or promote a product, then make your livestreams support that.
Go out there and have fun! Livestreaming can be stressful and a lot of work, but live interaction and getting your audiences to experience things real-time with you makes it all worth it.
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