So You Want To Be Live?

For the last year, online video has not-so-quietly undergone something of a revolution. Much like last season’s leg warmers, the appeal of slickly edited YouTube videos, available when you want them, is waning. These days, live video is claiming a prominent position in the fast-moving digital tide.

In my work, I’ve been calling this new medium “the New Wave.” It’s characterized by four key attributes: Live, Mobile, Interactive, and User-Generated.

As 11-time world surfing champion Kelly Slater would tell you, waves are complicated things. “A wave isn’t like a skate ramp or mountain; everything’s moving around and you have to time how to move along with it. That’s easier with a slow wave.” So much more difficult with a fast one.

This shift in video is no different. Everyone knows it’s happening, yet we’re all a little uncertain about how fast it’s moving. When do we move? How do we avoid crashing into the ocean floor or careening into a nearby reef? It appears that, once again, timing is everything.

Here are 4 guiding principles to help you navigate the waters.

Live online video is not just “the same thing you did before, but live.” What makes live different is its unpredictability. Unedited, raw, and full of unexpected potential, “going live” may require a bit of letting-go and it is certainly not for the faint of heart . That said, it’s a lot more fun than the umpteenth take of something you’ve rehearsed a thousand times.

Be creative. There are myriad tools that will allow you to be inventive and creative in your broadcasts. Many are still in the experimental stage. Try them anyway… It is part of the culture.

Stay engaged. The beauty of live is that you are in a constant two-way conversation with your audience. This means more than just answering comments, it means listening to your audience and shaping the broadcast as it happens to suit their needs.

Get outside. The mobile nature of live means you can broadcast from almost anywhere. Your fans are viewing the world through your eyes so take them on a tour of somewhere they wouldn’t normally see. All the better if it helps them learn something personal about you.

The New Wave does not mean that video-on-demand is a thing of the past. As Saturday Night Live has taught us, even something not quite live has great appeal when recorded live and viewed later. Viewers demand convenience and Live-On-Demand means you don’t have to watch endless live streams to catch the best ones whenever you want.

Surf’s up!


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