How to Live Stream – Complete Guide and Best Practices

Find the best live streaming services to broadcast your content to the right audience.

Man hosting a live stream

The online live streaming industry is growing fast. It doubled in size from 2019 to 2020, and is on track to double again.

Cisco believes that live streaming will make up 82% of internet traffic by 2022. There has never been a better time to start live streaming than right now.

But not all content creators are ready to start streaming just yet. Find out what it takes to get started with our complete guide to live streaming services and technologies.

01. What is Live Streaming?

Live streaming is the process of delivering video or audio data directly to an audience over the Internet as the data is created.

Unlike traditional video production, there is no time to edit live stream content. You broadcast it the moment you create it. This is an integral part of what makes live streaming so valuable to content creators.

Live streaming has become enormously popular through social media apps. Millions of TikTok, Twitch TV, Facebook, and Instagram users live stream every day. 63% of these users are between the ages of 18 and 34.

But live streaming is good for more than just public-facing social media content. Businesses and enterprises of all kinds use live streaming software to hold conferences, deliver reports, and market their products. They typically use secure live streaming platforms designed for business use.

Identifying your particular use case is the first step towards learning how to live stream. Once you know exactly what features you need, you can start comparing live streaming services.

02. Where to Live Stream: 5 Popular Live Streaming Solutions

There are two broad categories of streaming options available to content creators. 

  • Social media platforms typically offer free live streaming services for public-facing content. 
  • Professional streaming platforms offer valuable business features and typically charge a monthly fee.
    Make live video a successful part of your content strategy by choosing the right platform for your needs:

3 Popular Social Media Platforms for Live Streaming:

1. Facebook

Facebook Live has become popular among influencers, marketers, and celebrities over the years. It’s easy for users to immediately address a large audience with live streamed content. You can even add lenses, filters, and writing to your live stream.

Facebook Live

While many people use Facebook for public-facing content, marketers are less enthusiastic about it. Facebook Live content is not indexed with major search engines, which means it will never appear on search engine results.

Facebook’s live streaming technology is not well-suited for internal communications, either. It is not easy to secure live streamed content on Facebook, and it doesn’t provide any digital rights management (DRM) solutions for intellectual property owners.

2. YouTube

YouTube is a popular live streaming choice for marketers because YouTube indexes its videos with Google’s search engine. Google owns YouTube, so it’s unsurprising that its videos rank highly. YouTube also integrates well with other platforms thanks to its API resources. 

However, YouTube has its downsides as well. Content ownership is the most important drawback for many creators. YouTube has the right to use any user’s content in its own advertising. That means that you give up some control of your content and brand to YouTube.

Neither YouTube nor Facebook offer much in the way of viewer analytics. Both platforms collect viewer data and use it to reinforce their marketing initiatives, but neglect to share that data with content creators.

3. Twitch

Twitch is a live streaming platform that is highly popular in the gaming industry. The vast majority of its users are streaming video game content, and the service is designed for this purpose. But it also has channels dedicated to music, sports, travel, and food, among other subjects.

Twitch Streaming

Twitch contains social media features that allow users to browse and search for live stream feeds that interest them. Many of the features that make it so popular for gamers also make it great for immersive experiences of any kind – including wildlife watching.

Content creators who focus on public-facing lifestyle content may find what they’re looking for in Twitch. It’s a far better choice for casual content than serious or business content, though. Marketers don’t typically see Twitch as a powerful live streaming platform, but a handful of out-of-the-box thinkers have used it this way successfully.

2 Reputable Live Streaming Platforms for Business

1. Zoom

Zoom has exploded in popularity since the COVID pandemic led to a massive demand for work-at-home video conferencing solutions. Zoom is a business tool that allows for easy web conferencing and webinars. Business professionals, educators, and even fitness instructors use Zoom to deliver content to their viewers.

Zoom Studios

Zoom’s Basic meeting plan offers free live streaming services to users. You can host up to 100 participants for meetings of up to 40 minutes in length with this plan. You cannot record meetings, stream directly to social media, or add company branding to your Zoom meetings without paying for a license.

Where Zoom fails to deliver is its user analytics. The platform will let hosts see who watched their content, but it does not give detailed information about each user. You cannot see exactly how much of your presentation each user watched, or learn anything about their identity through Zoom.

2. Cincopa

Cincopa is a new live streaming service designed to support marketing and business content. It can handle meetings, webinars, and public broadcasts reliably and securely.

Cincopa Live Streaming

The main advantage Cincopa has over every other streaming platform is its analytics. Cincopa captures viewer data and makes it available to hosts. You can feed this data into any marketing automation tool and use it to grow your business.

For example, you may wish to send a reminder email to every webinar viewer who watched less than 15 minutes of your presentation. Cincopa makes it easy to create this user category and send their data to your email service provider.

Cincopa does not have social media features but integrates well with any social media platform. It supports native third-party integrations with OBS, Webcast, Zoom, and StreamYard. As of its release, trial members can only create a single feed at a time and have access to two free hours per month.

03. What You Need to Get Started

Stream Setup

Before you start, you need four things:

  • A Video/Audio Source. Your mobile phone can record video and audio. With the right lighting, a modern high-end phone can produce incredible results. Many live streamers still purchase professional cameras, microphones, and audiovisual equipment, though. If your budget allows, investing in better-quality equipment will pay off.
  •  A Video Encoder. This packages real-time video and audio data into a feed that can be broadcast over the Internet. OBS is a popular free software encoder. Many professionals use hardware encoders. These can offer better results but come at a price.
  • A Streaming Platform. This is the video hosting service that makes your live stream content available to viewers.
  • A Stable Internet Connection. Stable, high-speed Internet is absolutely crucial to live streaming success. 10 megabytes-per-second (mbps) is a decent upload bandwidth for live streaming in 1080p. If you want to live stream in 4K, you’ll need 25-50 Mbps or more.

You can get all of these things on a decent-quality mobile phone. Many first-time live streamers do exactly that. Professionals generally invest in better equipment over time. This improves the quality of live streamed content and makes it easier to create.

04. Features to Consider When Choosing a Live Streaming Platform

Every content creator has different expectations from live streaming. Before you choose a live streaming platform, it’s a good idea to identify what features you need to achieve your goals.

A social media influencer has entirely different goals than a financial executive who wants to live stream board meetings and synchronize content online while doing interviews on TV. Their objectives are different, their budgets are different, so it makes sense that their live streaming approach will be different.

Consider the following features, and identify how important they are for your live streaming plan:

  • Ad-free Streaming. Free live streaming services typically make money through ads. As a content creator, you should consider whether you want your audience to see ads when accessing your content.
  • Branding Control. Many streaming services put their branding on top of user-created content. For example, you can’t control what YouTube presents to viewers as Recommended Videos, and you can’t get rid of its logo on the video player.
  • Video Security Features. If your content contains sensitive data, you may need to secure it and monitor viewers’ permissions to access it.
  • API Support. If you want to integrate your video content with any other service, platform, or application, you will need to use an API to do it. Not all streaming platforms support APIs.
  • Viewer Analytics. The more you know about the people who view your video, the better you can optimize your content. Most streaming platforms do not share viewer analytics with content creators.

05. Start Live Streaming for Business 

There has never been a better time to start creating high-quality live stream content for your audience. Whether you are new to creating video content or expanding your video production processes to include live streamed content, the right platform will provide valuable features you can use to grow your streaming business.

Cincopa is a video hosting platform that offers state-of-the-art live streaming capabilities to content creators, marketers, and business users of all kinds. Find out how our analytics engine can help you achieve your live streaming goals.

Live Streaming Platform

Originally published on November 15th, 2022, updated on December 16th, 2023
The Blog

How to Live Stream – Complete Guide and Best Practices

by Austin Jesse Mitchell time to read: 6 min