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Is live video streaming the “next big thing”?

Social Media, maybe?

Video streaming exploded onto the Internet this year with Meerkat and then Periscope. Fad or future?

Meerkat came first and forced Twitter to early-launch their Periscope service – but what are they about and why might they be ground-breaking.

Video content platforms have been around since before Youtube (now 10 years old!) so what makes these new services different from conventional video on the web, and why should they be taken seriously?

These new services don’t have any post-editing, filters, captions, intros, background music, stop-action or any form of editing at all. They are, arguably, more authentic in an “un-cut” style. They are also a good deal more accessible, it turns your iPhone (or Android) into a live web-cam, broadcasting everything live in an american-style / PBS manner. But far more accessible.

It’s live, and it’s Mobile-only.

Mobile video now accounts for half of all the internet data on smartphone and is expected to grow by 20% by next year. It’s growing markedly faster than video consumption on laptop devices.

It’s still a bit early to tell if it’s going to catch, or when, but it certainly brings the opportunity of a new media stream – one that is immediate and, in the case of Meerkat, unrepeatable. You watch it live, or you miss it.

That brings an interesting edge to the media channel, much like Twitter, you either catch it when it happens or it’s gone (not strictly true, but post-live interaction on Twitter are minuscule so can be largely ignored) and that suggests followers and watchers will have a greater engagement.

Both services are easy to use. It takes 1 minute to sign-up and 30 seconds later you can be broadcasting. It takes a little longer to build up your audience but a 18 year old can be up and running in no time at all.

It’s personal

Whilst corporates and businesses have started to engage with it, much like the early days of Youtube it’s firmly rooted in the “user generated content” world and that makes it hyper-personal.

Mostly we don’t really like interacting with faceless businesses, we much prefer seeing real people in real situations. Using live streaming for businesses can add a community dimension to their finely-honed, PR-inspired, images.

Live interaction

Ask any band, or comedian and they will say the feedback from the audience enhances the experience for all and improves the output. With both platforms you can send love, make comments and ask questions.

All in real time. It’s as if you’re directly communicating with the broadcaster, and vice versa.

Getting started

Practice makes perfect so have a few goes to get over the collywobbles and nerves that you are broadcasting to the whole world (you often only have 50 or less watchers!).

Prep yourself for questions, often they are as simple as “what’s the weather like”, or “where are you”. Often questions relate to your environment as they’re watching what you film. The whole experience is a little surreal to begin with.

Try to make it interesting to your audience, and listen to what they say. Learn from your first few goes and modify what you do next time. Humour always goes down well, but stay within the bounds of decency and reasonable taste.

Have a think about the title of the video – a few minutes thought is the difference between broadcasting to 3 people and having 100 or so watchers.

Try to schedule the event in advance, tell your potential audience what and when and you’re more likely to start with a good audience who are interested. Remember to use timezones properly when scheduling, geo-tag your broadcast. Aim for a time when people can watch and interact.

Finally, don’t worry about the amateur nature of the whole show – that’s part of the charm and authenticity and, mostly, that’s what your audience want to see. It’s the inside track, so to speak.

And if you want to do a better job then practice – and here’s a hint, don’t bother with courses or training – just act naturally.