When is Live Video a Good Idea?

The CenterTable team in a live broadcast from the Greeley Stampede | CenterTable Digital Agency | Denver, CO

The CenterTable team in a live broadcast from the Greeley Stampede.

In my time as a news reporter there were two types of producers (generally): Those who only used the live truck for breaking/extremely visual stories and those who used live trucks in virtually every newscast.

Fast forward more years than I’m willing to admit, and we’ve got a similar situation now that Facebook, Instagram and Twitter all have “live” video options. Many brands and individuals are using live video options extremely sparingly (if at all) while others seem to be using it all of the time.

What’s the smart approach?

There is a certain inherent viewer attraction to live video, even if the subject matter isn’t enhanced by the “live” factor. The problem with going live all of the time is eventually viewers will lose interest – or worse, individuals will mute or unfollow a brand/individual because “live video all the time” quickly becomes extremely uninteresting and/or annoying.

There’s no doubt that “Stories,” Periscopes, and other live video options draw eyeballs and drive extremely high engagement. But before you click that record button, ask yourself two simple questions:

  • Is there an event/visual/occurrence that justifies going live and will add something of interest for the viewer?
  • If not, do you have a plan for what you’re going to visually show, what you’re going to say/discuss, and approximately how long your live video might be?

If you have neither, put the phone down, reconsider and spare us the time.

There are few things less interesting than watching a person or two fumble through a poorly lit discussion, with no compelling visuals and seemingly no end in sight. The more you can plan various aspects out ahead of time (questions, answers, visuals, scripts, even shot sheets) the easier it’s going to be for your audience(s) to follow along. And it honestly doesn’t take a lot of effort to avoid having a Garth from Wayne’s World live video experience.

Live video has a lot of power, but as we all know, with great power comes great responsibility. If you don’t have something extremely visual and/or immediate, at least have a plan to tell a compelling story with a start, middle and end. Your viewers will appreciate it.

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