Have you ever watched live sports online? A scientific lecture? A live discussion panel? Why, of course you have! That, my friend, is live streaming at its best. Since most people are pretty familiar with the idea, I will not waste too much time explaining it. Webcasting is simply broadcasting over the Internet. Now, if you liked what you saw, and you happen to be some type of business owner, you might be interested in learning the ropes of live streaming services for your own purposes. Hold steady, we are going to have a quick look at what is required in terms of hardware and how can certain online broadcasting services help you get your message across.
How do I start my live webcast?
There is a number of things required in order to get the most out of live streaming services. First, you will need a camcorder or a webcam and a microphone, hooked up to a computer with a broadband Internet connection. Make sure your video recording device has onboard hardware encoder. Just ask the salesperson at the store if you are not sure, or Google the model you already have to get the specifications. Most modern cams will come preequipped with the stuff you need.
The next, and in our case the final step, is finding live streaming services online that will host your broadcasts. Of course, more advanced users may develop and use their own solutions, but that is not the point of this post. The goal here is to show you some sites where you can stream your webcasts with no hard skills required. Lets us have a look.
Top live streaming services on the web
An award winning live video platform. Probably the leader in the business of live streaming services, USTREAM is simple enough for beginners, yet has enough to offer for experts. It does not require you to download any software and is integrated with social networks.
This broadcasting service provides you with an efficient CMS and a number of tools for marketing purposes and analytics. It is basically a one-stop shop with amazing standard of support, however, in terms of pricing, there is only a 30-day trial. After that, you will have to go with a paid plan but it will be most likely worth it. Definitely a choice for more advanced users and enterprises.
This service brands itself as a place to broadcast and watch live events, using a number of their products dedicated to particular types of broadcasters, including a mobile app and going live from your camera. The platform allows you to go on a 30-day free trial as well, but after that you will have to settle for a paid plan. This streaming service might be a good solution for webcasters focused on live events being presented to a wider audience.
Bambuser is a user-friendly live streaming service based in Stockholm, Sweden and Turku, Finland, allowing for instant sharing to the world’s leading social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr, among others. What makes it stand out among other live streaming services is that broadcasting is made available for free to charities and people using it for their personal purposes. There is also a number of premium plans to choose from, starting with quite affordable rates.
The YouNow broadcasting platform is all about engaging and discovering the work of others. It is simple to use and allows you to go live in no time to reach wide audiences. This live streaming platform puts a lot of emphasis on the social aspect of sharing your videos with options to sign in using Facebook, Twitter or Google+, categorizing streams and upvoting the ones you like. It not only provides you with a platform for expressing yourself, but also promotes building communities. Oh, and the developers are backed by pretty big fish too, so they are most likely not going anywhere soon.
Another live streaming service offering a variety of options. Unfortunately, they do not seem to have a free trial plan, however, what makes them stand out is that they offer a per-event pricing plans, depending on the amount of data you want to transmit, and also have an entire program that helps you earn money for views. Their website looks pretty legit and they provide some helpful guidelines and tutorials for those who are not yet very familiar with live streaming services. Definitely a platform worth checking.
There is a number of other live streaming services available, like VaughnLive or VOKLE, but what you see above should get you started and give you a pretty good idea of what you can expect and achieve by going live.
Using live chat while broadcasting online
One other thing worth mentioning in connection with the use of live streaming services is the addition of live chat to enhance the experience. Now, some of the mentioned services may, or may not have in-built means of communication with viewers after you embed the video on your website. Whatever the case may be, you still might want to consider installing a third-party solution, like Chatwee, that provides users with more options, for instance private chatting, and you can name admins to keep the conversations clean.
Going back to live streaming services and webcasting for a moment, let me provide you with a number of application to get you going and come up with more ideas. You can use it for:
- live concerts
- new product presentations (people can see them live, and how they actually work, instead of just looking at photos)
- draw and enagage your audience by running a live contest
- do it periodically to make people await and expect it, like a TV series
- cut your audience’s costs – they don’t have to commute or pay for tickets, and you broaden the scope of your potential clients
- connect with far-removed family members for important personal events (weddings, birthdays, etc.)
After you install live social chat, you can answer questions on-air, sent via chat, shout out your viewers/listeners as you answer their questions (you can use their Twitter handles so people can go follow them and they will feel appreciated) and let people of similar interests connect with each other in real-time.
All in all, one can definitely say that independent media, including private broadcasters, fluorish thanks to webcasting. These new opportunities to connect with people make the world an even smaller place and create new kind of experiences at a rather small cost. If you are looking for ways to expand your business or personal brand, you should definitely look into options that live streaming services give you.