I've never been one for live streams, myself. Though I'm more than comfortable speaking, as I have on stages across the globe, I have never felt sure that I have the tools, technology, and technical know-how to make it work. But that's no longer an excuse. Live streaming isn't going anywhere, and it's a powerful tool for connecting with your audience.

I'm lucky to get to grace the stage at Social Media Marketing World 18 alongside some of the marketing industry's best and brightest social media experts, so I asked for their tips, tricks, hacks and best practices for using live streaming video -- whether on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram or elsewhere--to engage your audience and grow your business. 

Preparing: What To Do Before You To Go Live

"Too many people are afraid of going live, because they are not sure they look, sound, act, talk, etc well enough. But, the only way to get better is to practice. Stop coming up with excuses and start creating more!" -- Azriel Ratz, CEO, Ratz Pack Media

"For FB live: pick one big thing you want your audience to walk away with.  One video, one big point. Be really clear on who your audience is, what the need and who you are. Treat it like a show - not a collection of videos." --Kathy Klotz-Guest, Author of "Stop Boring Me!"

"A lot of creators wait a few minutes to allow the live audience to tune in so which is a mistake as the replay audience will likely click away and not sit through "dead space" which is why as soon as you go live you want to be energetic, vibrant, and be ready to be 'on'." -- Carlos Gil, CEO/Founder, Gil Media Co.

"When you starting live streaming involve relevant influencers in your live stream that already have an audience you want to attract. It's very difficult building up your audience so it's better to leverage off someone that has an audience already. So you're looking for relevant influencers that are attracting a large livestream audience." --Ian Cleary, Founder of RazorSocial, Co-Founder of OutreachPlus

"Have your URL and any other short text information you want to periodically display during your show in a nearby text file or Google doc so you can easily copy and paste it into display slots as your show moves forward. That way you don't have to sit there and try to retype URLs or short phrases." -- David H. Lawrence XVII, Actor and creator of Camera Ready U

"Ah, the age old question; if no-one knew about your live-stream and no-one watched it then did it really happen? Well, yes, you can get people to watch your videos back, but part of the magic of live-video is the live aspect! You can interact with your audience, answer questions and change topic as you go. So, you have to give your audience a heads up before you stream. Spread the word on your social media accounts and start building up a buzz around the event. Get people to sign-up, so you have an idea about how many people will watch and send reminder messages and follow-up emails." -- Bryan Kramer, CEO of H2H Companies & PureMatter

"Set a time and day of the week and be consistent." -- Monica Pruett, Instructor at The6FigureBlog.com


Content: What To Live Stream (And What Not To)

"The most important aspect of live streaming is relevance. Relevance to audience (why would they watch your live stream), to timing (is this time a good time to get the numbers you're after), & to your brand story (hitting the right tone is so important). Knowing your audience & understanding what drives them will help you situate your visual aspects of your live stream as well as decide the topics that will be addressed." -- Cassie Roma, Content Marketing & Social Media Expert

"When you are somewhere witnessing something that you want share, or immediately inspired to share something, and you whip out your phone and just go for it, that's On the Fly live streaming. It should be quick and impactful. When you are in a space that you have more control over, like your home or office, and you decide you have something important to share and want to go live to share it, that is In the Moment. If you happen to have a studio, this might be more produced, but it doesn't need to be. It should have clean audio and some consideration for the way your set looks. When you spend time on your live stream by scripting an opening and a closing, by carefully planning the content you share, and by promoting the fact that it's coming, that's Prepped and Ready. More and more live streams are taking this format with platforms like BeLive making the scheduling and promotion easier. Prepped and Ready may or may not mean you are live streaming at a regular time, and it always means you are live streaming with a full content and promotion plan." -- Chloe DiVita, Founder of Perceptive Presence


Engagement: Activating The Audience During The Stream

"It seems so simple, but by telling your Facebook Live audience to turn the sound on using the text field makes a huge difference in your metrics." -- Carmen Shirley Collins, Social Media Lead, Talent Brand, Cisco

"Ask an easy-to-answer question like 'where are you viewing from' or ask them to click on Like if they can hear you loud and clear. This will bring you great engagement and boost your reach as Facebook will show your live video to more people."  -- Alex Khan, Germany's most followed Social Media Coach

"On Instagram Live, you can't label your video. As soon as you go live, type a comment with your video title or topic and share it. Then, select your comment and Pin it. This keeps your comment (with the topic or title) visible to all viewers coming on throughout the live broadcast." -- Jenn Herman, Founder of Jenn's Trends,

"As you are Live have your viewers share the live video on their personal profiles simultaneously which will provide you greater reach" -- Nicholas Kusmich, Founder & Director of the H2H Media Group

"You must remember that most of your live stream views will come from the replay and NOT the live stream. This is true for even the most popular live streamers. It is imperative therefore that you build your live stream format around the replay viewers. One great way to do this is in your first 5 seconds. Most live streamers spend the first few minutes waiting for their audience to show up which makes for a horrible replay experience. Instead, start your live stream FOR the replay viewer by asking a question or hitting them with a value statement up front. That way, when a viewer watches on replay, the very first thing they will hear is a question or comment designed specifically for them!" -- Owen Video, The VideoSpot


Tools: Technology and Software Suggestions

"Here's a relatively new tool that I have been testing (and loving!!) lately. It's Ecamm Live. It's only $39 (one time - NOT subscription!), is lightweight and super easy to use, with some neat built-in features like countdown clock, pop out windows, multiple camera inputs, PIP, desktop sharing, etc. Authentic engagement is key to live video, so having a window that not only displays viewer comments, but allows for one-click, lower-thirds comment overlays makes this my current live video production platform of choice. You can also bring in video or audio guests using the Ecamm Call Recorder for Skype. The Ecamm software also has a built-in option to post to YouTube when you're done (sweeeeeet!)"  -- Lou Mongello, Host/Producer of WDWRadio.com

"When going live on Facebook, use a service like Live Leap to syndicate that live broadcast automatically to multiple Facebook groups, pages, notify your audience on your other social networks, your blog/website, email and even SMS. This is a quick/easy way to expand your reach without any additional effort on your part (besides the set up)." -- Leslie Samuel, Owner of Becoming A Blogger

"With the ability to stream live to Facebook, Belive makes it so easy to conduct an interview and share screens. You also have a great view of all the comments on the Facebook Live and the ability to reply from the Belive manager. It also lets you show the commenter's photo and comment on the screen - which people love! One of my favorite features is the agenda. I drop in my outline, links I want to share, etc. So I can either display them on the screen or copy and paste to a comment on the broadcast." -- Alisa Meredith, Content Marketing Manager, Tailwind.

Other Tips, Tricks & Hacks

"Go live for at least 15 minutes. FB wants people to watch lives while they are live. In order to get the most reach, make sure to stay live for long enough for FB give you the most reach as possible." -- Azriel Ratz, CEO, Ratz Pack Media

"Don't assume that live streaming is just for millennial audiences. I worked for a healthcare company that had a lot of success live streaming healthy cooking classes, fitness classes for seniors, and Medicare Q&A sessions. Facebook makes it so easy for users to participate!" --  Dan Gingiss, Author of "Winning at Social Customer Care"

"Brands and businesses should start using 360-live video as it is the next iteration in live video/live streaming. You will see a shift in content from 2D/flat to content that's 3D, 360-degrees and sometime holographic." -- Cathy Hackl, Marketing Futurist, Author of Marketing New Realities, VR and AR Evangelist

"When you create your Live Stream, think about how you are going to re-purpose it.  I am using Live Streaming at least a few times a week and then I download the video, add it to YouTube, share it on the other social platforms and embed it on a blog post.  Now that one piece of content is going much further!" -- Andrea Vahl, Co-author of Facebook Marketing All-in-One for Dummies