Live streaming has become more popular over the years as top social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram launched built-in streaming features that allowed brands and users to share raw footage in real time. While live streaming has been around for years through YouTube’s live stream features, it wasn’t until Facebook made it possible to go live right in people’s newsfeeds that live streaming went mainstream.
The live streaming industry was expected to grow 15-fold by 2022, reaching 17% of all internet traffic. Then the global pandemic hit and completely changed the landscape of live streaming. With stay-at-home orders, remote work and school, businesses and individuals from industries beyond gaming and entertainment started to embrace live video streaming. Companies and organizations started hosting webinars instead of in-person conferences, musicians streamed live performances, and churches started streaming their faith services.
Live streaming is here to stay and this guide will cover everything you need to know about live streaming and how to get started.
In this guide, we’ll cover:
- What is live streaming
- The benefits of live streaming
- Streaming platforms you can choose from
- Ideas for live streams
- How to live stream with Melon
- Tips on how to live stream
What is live streaming?
Live streaming is when a video is sent over the internet in real time without first being recorded and stored. The term usually refers to broadcasts where one creator is streaming video content to multiple users at once. Today, TV broadcasts, video game streams and social media video can all be live streamed.
Benefits of live streaming
Live streaming is an effective way for both brands and users to accomplish their goals from promoting new products and services, announcing big company news or teaching an online class. If live streaming isn’t yet a part of your strategy, it’s time to add it especially if you already have an existing audience on social media platforms with live streaming capabilities.
There are significant benefits to live streaming such as:
Reaching a wider audience
Live streaming your event allows you to reach people who you normally wouldn’t be able to due to physical limitations. This has become even more evident as the coronavirus pandemic shut down physical venues.
Building a personal connection
Nothing is more intimate than live, one-on-one interactions with your audience. Live streaming gives your users a face to your brand and a personal connection. Audiences that feel connected with a brand are more likely to be more loyal.
Ease and convenience
A common myth about live streaming is that it’s too difficult for the average person. In fact, going live can be very simple and easy. All you need are relevant video and audio equipment, an internet connection and a trusty live streaming platform.
Time and cost savings
Live streaming can be more affordable than pre-recorded video content since there’s no post-production or editing involved. Most of the appeal of live streaming comes from its unproduced, real-life nature.
Live streaming platforms
The platform you use to start live streaming depends on who you want to view your stream. Different audiences use different channels, so pick the one that’s most likely to attract the users you want.
While there are plenty of live streaming platform options to choose from, here are the main categories:
1. Social Media Platforms
All the main social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn allow you to live stream and the difference between choosing either of them comes down to where you have an existing audience. Each platform provides native streaming capabilities that allow your followers to be notified and tune into your stream when you go live.
Home to 2 billion monthly active users worldwide, YouTube is one of the most popular video platforms out there. Due to how easy it is for content creators to share their content with a large audience, there are channels on practically any subject you can imagine and people following them.
YouTube live streaming (or YouTube Live) makes it easy for brands and creators to reach their audience in real time. The platform has tools that help you moderate audience engagement, interact with viewers in real time and monetize your live videos. You can go live on YouTube via webcam, mobile, and encoder streaming.
Please note that while YouTube doesn’t charge a fee to use their live streaming feature, monetizing live videos will be subject to the platform’s revenue share policy.
A popular live streaming and on-demand video platform that allows users to watch anything they like directly from their console, PC or mobile device. Popular with video game streamers, the platform’s demographics skew at 65% male to 35% female. Twitch also offers one of the most monetization options.
Ideas for live streams
We know that red recording light on your camera can be daunting, but there’s no need to be afraid of live streaming. Here are some live stream ideas for different ways you can engage a live audience.
- Live Q&A: One of the best ways to connect with your audience is to let them ask you questions in a live setting. Most live streaming platforms allow you to see real-time reactions and comments on your screen, which you can answer. You can also collect audience questions in advance of your live stream, for example, during the registration process.
- Live Interviews: A quick, informative live stream interview is a great way to engage your audiences. Whether you sit down with a team member, customer or public figure, viewers will appreciate the authenticity of a live interview.
- Prize Giveaways: Giveaways are a tried-and-true engagement tactic on social media and a livestream is the perfect venue for one. Encourage comments and participant attendance by picking a winner in real-time and rewarding them with a prize!
- Live Unboxing & Product Reviews: Reviews are one of the most popular types of content on the internet and live streaming is no exception. Live unboxings and product reviews are a great way to give viewers your real, unfiltered first impressions.
- Live Tutorials: Along with reviews, how-tos top the list of what people are looking for online. Walk viewers through a process live by sharing your computer screen.
- Breaking News: Have some exciting news to share? Let your live streaming audience be the first to know.
- Live Events: Show your audience what they’re missing out on by going live on site.
How to live stream with Melon
While it’s possible to go live natively through each live streaming platform, you’re often limited to whichever platform you select and any guests you invite need to download or create an account as well.
Melon is a web-based live streaming platform that makes it easy to broadcast directly from your browser from any device, whether it's your Mac, Windows PC, iPhone, or Android. You don't have to download anything, and neither do your guests! Melon lets you do some really cool stuff like interview guests, share your screen, and simulcast to most major social media networks.
In this section, we will walk you through how to live stream with ease using Melon in just a few minutes. You can also check out our guides on how to stream to specific social media platforms.
How to start streaming on Twitch with Melon
How to live stream on YouTube with Melon
How to go live on Facebook with Melon
1. Streaming Setup
Let’s talk about your streaming setup. Thankfully getting started with Melon is simple. You'll only need a few things and likely already have them on hand!
You need these key items to set yourself up for a successful live stream:
- A computer or mobile device
- Stable internet connection (WIFI is preferred)
- A web browser
- A microphone and camera
First, you need a computer or a mobile device. We've optimized Melon, so you don't need to have a powerful computer to have a great broadcast. You will have the best experience streaming from your laptop or desktop, but Melon is fully compatible to work on mobile as well.
Second, you'll need an internet connection. Wifi or ethernet connection is strongly preferred over cellular data. Ensure that you only have Melon open while you're streaming. Having other programs open like Facebook or YouTube will use more of your internet bandwidth, decreasing your stream's quality.
Third, you'll need a microphone and a camera. While your built-in equipment will work just fine, we recommend investing in an external mic and camera to give your stream a professional look and feel. Logitech has a great variety of webcams, and we absolutely love Blue Yeti microphones.
Fourth, make sure you're using one of our recommended web browsers for the best streaming experience. We recommend Chrome for Windows and Mac. For iOS devices like your iPhone or iPad, only Safari is supported. For Android users, Chrome is supported.
2. Creating an Account
Now that you have your streaming setup squared away, create an account with Melon by logging in with your existing Google/YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitch account. There is no concept of a Melon-specific account because we wanted to make it as easy as possible for you to log in.
If you already have an account with any of the major streaming platforms, sign in with that account. If not, please go to the streaming platform of your choice, make an account, and log in. You will need that account regardless because that is where we are going to be sending your video stream.
A quick heads up for folks making a YouTube account for the first time. YouTube requires you to wait for 24 hours to verify your account. If you plan to stream to YouTube, please plan to sign-up 24 hours before your stream. Facebook and Twitch do not have this requirement.
3. Enabling Mic + Camera Access
Once logged in, please make sure you enable access to the microphone and camera. If the camera is not showing up, please click on the little lock at the left of the address bar near https, click “Settings” and ensure that you have granted access to the camera and microphone. If the camera is not showing up, please try clearing the cache and refreshing the Melon landing page. There are some nuances with a few browsers, such as an older version of Microsoft Edge. If you are stuck, please email our support team or check out our other support guides.
4. Choosing Your Sources
Now you should see yourself on the left-hand side. Click on your image to add yourself to the stream. The canvas is what will be showing up on stream when you are live. So if the canvas is black, that's what you are streaming. If it's showing you and not the guest, that means that you are only streaming yourself. Think of the navbar on the left as the waiting room and the canvas or middle of the screen as the live show.
5. Inviting Guests
To invite guests, all you need to do is send them the invite link. You can get it by clicking on “Invite Guests” in the top left corner. The invite link will automatically copy to your clipboard!
Guests do not need to make any accounts. They can join your broadcast by clicking on the link you send them. Super easy right? We know that no one likes to make new accounts, so we made this the simplest sign-in process ever.
Feel free to share this guide on Streaming Setup for Guests with your guests to help make sure their first guest appearance is seamless!
6. Going Live
When you're finally ready to go live, click “Go Live” and pick a platform. Or you can pick multiple platforms if you are on the PRO plan and stream to Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitch and Twitter all at the same time. You can even stream your personal website via a custom RTMP stream.
Streaming to multiple platforms at once is a great way to grow your audience and expand your reach. Make sure to give it a try.
7. Using The Control Panel
In the control panel below the canvas, you will see a way to share the screen, view chat, and edit your screen.
Sharing the screen allows you to share whatever is on your computer. You can choose to share your full screen, a specific application, or a specific tab in your internet browser. Your guests can also share their screen, and their screen will appear in the waiting room, just like the guests.
To look at the chat between you and the other participants, you can click on the chat bubble. There's an option to see the private chat, which is just between you and the folks on the call. This would be the chat you could also use for a private call when you don't stream. You can also view the chat from all platforms in one place. Let's say you're streaming to Facebook and Twitch. Any chat messages from the community will appear in Melon's chat.
Lastly, to personalize your stream, click on “Edit Screen” below the canvas near the “Go Live” button. You can change the background, ticker, banner, add your own logo, and more. You can always edit the screen even while the broadcast is live. You can change your background, add guests, edit your news ticker, update your title. Anything you wish to change can be dynamically updated while you are live.
8. Ending Your Stream
To end your broadcast, click “End Stream” in the control panel below the canvas. That’s it! Easy right? Don’t worry about unexpected hiccups that happened during your broadcast. Things will get easier the more experience you have and that’s the real beauty behind a live stream.
Live streaming tips
Now that you’ve gotten your first live stream out of the way, let’s take a look at a few live streaming best practices that will help you create engaging and effective live streams.
- Promote before you go live. There’s nothing more discouraging than going live to an empty room. Let people know that you’re going live ahead of time by making an announcement on your social networks. Get your followers really excited about your live stream by including a description or teaser of what to expect.
- Check your internet strength. Make sure your internet connection is in top form before going live. Switching from WiFi to a wired ethernet connection can vastly improve connection speed and therefore the quality and reliability of your live stream. If you share bandwidth with others, let them know when you’re going live and tell them to stay off the network.
- Engage with your viewers. Many people watch live video streams because they want that feeling of connection with the person broadcasting. Say hello to the people who are commenting, answer questions, ask questions and treat your live stream as a conversation. Make your viewers want to know you.
- Record your live stream. There are millions of live streams going on in the world today and it’s impossible to watch everything in real time. Record your live stream and create Video on Demand (VoD) files that can be accessed by your viewers at any time. This is a great way to continue to build viewership as now anyone can watch a broadcast they missed or previous ones broadcast before they discovered you.
- Give viewers next steps. What do you want your viewers to do after they’ve watched your live stream? Always make sure to end each broadcast with a call to action whether it is to sign up for your newsletter, follow you on social media or share your video.
- Test out your broadcast. Practice makes perfect. Rehearse everything, ideally at the place where you are going to stream the real thing. Rehearse what you are going to say, how you are going to say it, how you will introduce guests, how you will respond to viewer comments or questions. Make sure to check your camera, microphone and any other equipment you’ll be using.