Live Interactive Video Streaming, also called live streaming, life casting, or event streaming can provide the web strategist with a low-cost effective tool to enhance communications to customers. This document outlines the most successful ways to use these tools, and provides some best practices.
Live streaming has gotten the attention of the media, press, and bloggers, yet when peering back in history, it’s not a new technology. The big difference is that there are many providers that offer this service and it’s the frequently self-publishing of individuals on blogs makes it easy for anyone to get in on the action
Live video streaming in an inexpensive and ‘human’ medium that can involve a community in an interactive online event.
Life Interactive Video Streaming: A real time video that is often created from a webcam or embedded camera on a laptop (many Macs come standard with this) that let’s anyone publish in real-time to their audience. The interaction part comes from the live attendees being able to interact with each other and the show creator in a real time chat room. I find this attributed to be critical in describing this form of the medium.
Three Effective Use Cases:
1) Event Streaming
One of the best uses of live interactive video streaming is at events, whether at corporate ones, conferences, or product announcements. Supplement your many events with this inexpensive service by assigning an employee (or inviting an existing event streamer) to your event. Provide them with power, robust internet access (Lan line prefereed) and a good location to setup their camera. In come situations, if the event is already being streamed, it’s possible to import the existing audio and video feed into the site, making it easier.
Who’s doing this? Corporate events, presidential debates, conferences organizers
Risks: I’ve seen issues where corporate firewalls have caused havoc in setup, mismatch between audio video gear, and lastly, issues with existing video crews not wanting to participate due to threat of newer cheaper tools, or ‘union rules’.
Ever had a crises? Sure you have, nearly every brand is going to have an exploding product or downed website. In the new live and social web, the best thing to do is to put your best face forward, apologize, and demonstrate to your customers how you genuinely and authentically fix issues. Take zooomr for example, this two man photo sharing startup by Kris Tate and Thomas Hawk was going to release a new version of their website, but sadly, the upgrade went horribly wrong, and the site went down, and appeared by unrecoverable. Rather than scurrying away, they use live interactive streaming to broadcast and show exactly what they were doing to fix the issue. They streamed for over a week on end and showed how they were fixing the problem, even when they were too dead tired to carry on. In the end, they earned the trust of their community, received donations, and eventually got their website back up.
Risks: Exposing how weak you are during a vulnerable time is a risky strategy, but one that could win over the community if you are honestly giving the effort to correct what your audience and customers want. Authenticity requires genuine action.
3) You’re interesting
This pretty much applies to all other situations. For many digital egoists, they are applying life casting and streaming to the whole world their very minutia of their lives. Sadly, after the hype has left the medium nearly half a year ago, the world has stopped caring about watching the lives of an average Joe or Jane. Only people with very interesting lives will gain traction and audience from life streaming. Those would include the rich, famous, actors, musicians, talented, or the very attractive. Secondly, those who live in very unique areas or have a unique lifestyle (like NY’s “Naked Cowboy”) will get traction.
For companies, if you have a very unique behind the scenes process that you want to share about your products being manufactured, or have an exceptionally busy of amazing store (or a view from that store) consider using live video web streaming. Depending on the situation, you may want to turn off comments.
Risks: Failing to truly be interesting will result in wasted time and embarrassment from your peers. Learn to use these tools effectively.
How to get started?
Input Device: Locate an on-board webcam, or purchase a webcam (a hundred dollar Logitech is more than sufficient for most uses. For higher quality events and conferences, consider using higher grade cameras and mics for best production
Services: There’s quite a few Live Video Streaming services available, you can see my master list (which has been republished by the LA Times) to find the right one for you and your demographic.
Experiment internally: Start playing with these tools to get familiar with their strengths and weaknesses. Try obtaining an EDVO card to stream from remote locations. Also test if these tools work behind the firewall.
Integrate with other communications: I found that if you plan to live stream an event, you’ll need to tell attendees in advance so they can schedule on their calendars to attend. Also consider using Twitter to attract people to your stream.
Interact: The best case scenarios are when the audience gets to help guide and lead the experience. As a result, they will feel ownership, stay engaged, and want to be part of the experience. Read and participate in the forums in near real time, ask questions, let them guide and be part of the show. For example, I used live streaming at the web 20 expo and the viewers told me who they wanted me to interview, where, and what sessions to cover.
My Background with Live Video Streaming
I was one of the first to use event streaming at the Web 2.0 expo using Ustream.tv technology. Working with that team, we experiemented with the medium, which included giving a set to Robert Scoble. I use a tripod, and created an ‘online show’ and interviewed hundreds of attendees, and Robert became a temporary lifecaster. In our final panel, Chris Pirillo joined us, and has been publishing his Live Pirillo show ever since.
Lastly, I was on the Board of Advisors for Ustream.tv, until joining Forrester as an Analyst. I’m very familiar with this growing market.
For more information, read all my posts tagged Web Strategy (they’re like white papers, or reports) or all posts tagged live video streaming.
VoIP and Live Streaming, in my opinion, have revolutionized the communication industry. Anyone with computer and internet connection can connect with anyone else on the planet, for real time voice and video communications. The clincher? Such tools require a few dollars and commodity internet access –nearly everyone can get in on the conversation.
Skype connects a family
Recently, an Uncle and Auntie of mine recently moved to the Middle East for a off country teaching assignment, in a city known for violence, assassinations and unrest. Yesterday, during a local family get together we were able to arrange a time to call them, and we piped over a video stream to them. We could hear their audio only. I was able to briefly jump into this real world communications with them, as they were half way around the world, and wouldn’t be returning to us anytime soon.
My cousin showed him around the house with the video camera, although the wireless network connection would sometimes drop, they got to experience a virtual tour of what we were doing. Although not perfectly setup, we continue to lower the barriers to communication in real time, and the medium gets richer with each passing year.
Live streaming the human life cycle
I recently spoke with Chris Yeh, the CEO of Ustream (live interactive video), he tells me that in addition to people broadcasting live births on the web, that families are live-broadcasting funerals. Morbid? Not really, some family members who couldn’t be at the service get to participate in the grieving process, in this virtual way to be with their family.
It’s just a matter of time before our traditional home entertainment systems become IP enabled, allowing for PC to TV real-time video and audio to be transmitted. It would be interesting to see the adoption of these tools each holiday season, year after year.
Has VoIP or Live Streaming impacted your family?
There’s so many examples of how these tools impact business, but have you had an experience where these tools impacted your personal or family life? VoIP, live video streaming, what? Share with me in the comments.
There are over 2500 people watching this Ustream video of the Yearly Kos convention.
The CEO of Ustream Chris Yeh emailed me and suggests that “By the way, I checked, and right now C-SPAN is running the House of Reps,
C-SPAN 2 is running some author named Mike May at a Borders. That means that Ustream is, as far as I know, the ONLY live video coverage of this
Brad Hunstable the co-founder of Ustream is at the debate live streaming, he’s ‘jumping up and down’ trying to get his question asked.
Great lines from the debate with a tech focus:
Hillary Clinton: “The Architecture of the Internet needs to remain open”
Audience: Will the White House have a blogger?
John Edwards: “Yes, we will be hiring Elizabeth Edwards”
John Edwards’s Twitter message: “Just leaving the forum. Some great questions on media consolidation. On my way to the breakout session in RM s404 – hope to see you there.”
Barack Obama: “I’d love to answer everyone’s questions, but I won’t be able to, but that’s what the internet is for, hopefully we’ll have some back and forth there
Many of those from the audience who asked questions identified themselves as bloggers, and even said the name of their website.
It was interesting to watch folks in the chat, you can hear the voices of the people, their thoughts, what they thought was not authentic, their opinions. The voices of the people are talking back, influencing. Live streaming energizes the events of the world, this is why I advise this company, so exciting!
I’ve updated the list of Web Strategies of the 2008 Presidential Candidates, see how the battle is being waged online.
That’s the quotient that online video people are trying to figure out. Well Ustream has launched a new tool in their latest version that lets users ‘shout out’ about a show that’s interesting, their blog lists out the details.
What’s Engagement? I’ve discussed it several times, and have been able to boil it down to “Apparent Interest“. My formula suggests it’s the factor of Attention, Interaction, and a few other attributes.
Colleague Robert Scoble has a video interview with the CEO of Ustream, and Techcrunch has the feature breakdown.
What’s interesting about Ustream, a company that I’ve decided to advise? Well John Edwards was using it live on Monday after the debates, Chris Pirillo has a live show, and even Andy Beal has a weekly show. If you know about what I did at Web 2.0 expo, we really made an impression, and even used it on our panel. I’m waiting for buddy Allen Stern to start one!
In addition to asynchronous content, the web is moving to real time.
I just got word from Chris Yeh, the CEO of Ustream (who I advise) that John Edwards will be on Ustream after his debate on CNN to answer questions from the Ustream community.
What is Ustream? It’s a live video stream on the web + chat room interaction (and other features). What does this mean? This means that everyone who tunes in will have an opportunity to ask questions, be part of the community and talk to John Edwards.
I’ve started a list of key web battles by the presidential candidates, be sure to check out this list. The web is empowering everyone to communicate and for figures in power to reach others, and be more human.
So what will you ask him? leave a comment.
Update: Here’s the site where John Edwards will be streaming from.
I’m watching Andy Beal’s live show that he recorded live a few hours ago with Ustream, I was particularly glad when I saw he was going to do this, as I’ve been advising Ustream, they know how to reach the top bloggers. If you don’t know who Andy is, he’s pretty influential in the search space, Google and Yahoo employees read his blog.
If you’re short on time, and you want to find out what’s happening in the Internet Marketing space, you can turn on Andy’s show, Marketing Pilgrim Live turn up the volume and multi-task. I asked Andy about his show, and he said it’s:
“Marketing Pilgrim Live: Internet marketing consultant Andy Beal shares his thoughts on the week’s recent internet marketing news. In this week’s show, Andy discusses Facebook, Google’s law suits, web metrics and much more. “
What’s really interesting is that he said he’s giving up podcasting, because now he doesn’t have to edit. He wishes that Ustream would have a timer, to show how long they’ve been broadcasting. He also thinks it’s amazing that there’s 80 people watching Chris Pirillo’s live show, even when he’s doing nothing. He asks “Chris, what do you do when you want to pick your nose?”
Good stuff Andy, I’m really caught up now.
(Update: Other interesting video shows? Check out this wrapup show from Techno Marketer of all things social media and web)