Live streaming in schools has become commonplace in the last couple of years, but many schools are still reluctant to get on board.
Schools might think, “What’s the value when no one is going to watch?” Actually, parents and relatives of the students would love to tune in, especially when it comes to events like band performances, sports games and school rallies. Not only is a live production great for the community, but also an excellent educational tool for the students. They just need a bit of pushing in the right direction to know these livestreams exist!
Graduation at South Pasadena High School. Credit: sphstigers.org
Here are 6 tips on how to publicize your school’s livestream:
1. School & Social Announcements
Ever go to a coffee shop and see uniquely designed artwork for advertising their Instagram? Businesses know social media is a new way to attract customers because posts can be commented, tagged and shared. Why not follow their model?
Cleveland High School’s digital media team produces a morning show through the school’s intra-TV system where they announce school-related news and upcoming events. They also use this opportunity to share some of the events they have recently covered whether it be a sports game or school event. But it doesn’t stop there, Cleveland High is also consistently engaging on their social channels including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. In addition, they regularly advertise events through all of their social media channels, letting people know that certain events will be live streamed.
And let’s face it, some of our students may be able to teach us a lesson on how to use the latest features of these social platforms.
2. Stream High-Quality Content With Reliable Hardware
To avoid issues with your livestream, we recommend looking into streaming encoders which are not only affordable but also robust. The Teradek VidiU encoder is a great example. Capable of streaming up to 1080p resolution, the VidiU can take a video feed from a camera or switcher and send it directly to an online destination like Facebook Live, YouTube Live, Periscope, NFHS thecube.com and more.
What makes VidiU so attractive to schools in the country is its low barrier-to-entry and ease of use. At $699, this professional encoder focuses on simplicity, just configure your settings once and all you need to do his hit that RED button to go live and end stream. Native integration with all of the major streaming platforms means anyone can go live with just the press of a button. The interface is also designed to be incredibly simple, whether you are making adjustments on the OLED screen, using its built-in web interface or configuring from the iOS app, the VidiU is designed to be user-friendly.
Keep in mind that encoders alone aren’t the only keys to high-quality streams; flawless streaming depends heavily on having a strong Internet connection. With your hardware encoder, we always recommend using a hardwired Ethernet connection when possible. However, encoders like VidiU and VidiU Pro have advanced features like adaptive bitrate and scene detection to work with troubled Internet connections. If you must use WiFi, try to use a wireless network with no other devices connected to it to get the most bandwidth.
3. Stream to Multiple Platforms
Why limit yourself to a single destination? One of the best ways to attract more viewers is to take your content to them. Stream your school’s event to multiple social media platforms at the same time so you can be available on their preferred viewing platform.
Jon Souders, technical director and teacher at Cleveland High School, uses a Teradek Cube encoder and sends their broadcast to Core, Teradek’s cloud-based stream management system. Core allows him and his class to select an unlimited number of platforms to stream to, including all the major ones like Facebook, YouTube, NFHSnetwork.com,thecube.com and even multiple custom RTMP.
For those who do have limited bandwidth or you are traveling for an away game, don’t worry, streaming to multiple destinations is still absolutely possible. Because Core is based in the cloud, the additional encoded streams being processed will not demand any bandwidth at your location, but will rely on robust Amazon EC2 servers and their high speed Internet connections.
Since Souders’ program began streaming to multiple destinations, viewership and engagement has more than quadrupled. Keep in mind, not only is viewership beneficial to community engagement, but it also will attract more local sponsors.
4. Stream Regularly
It’s no secret that sports are filled with energy and passion, but family members want to see other events too. Dance recitals, band performances, graduation ceremonies and other events in the community are all great things to take to the web. When a school streams live content consistently, it builds good rep with the community, making viewers more likely to follow and “tune-in next time” to your media outlets to stay updated. Think of it as your school’s media hub, the one place where all your news and updates are centralized.
5. Boost Facebook Pages
Did you know Facebook offers boosting services for Pages? While Facebook algorithms automatically prioritize live video posts on people’s news feeds, sometimes you want your school’s events to reach even more people (friends of friends or even people with related interests).
Boosting a post can really help attract more eyes to your school’s Page. Boosted posts discreetly appear higher on people’s newsfeeds than regular posts which give them more exposure. And even better, Facebook has integrated tools for specifically targeting an audience based on region and interests. This solution is usually reserved for major events like important speakers or popular sports games, as boosting can cost a bit of money. That’s why we recommend using this under special circumstances.
6. Encourage Engagement
One of the best things about Facebook Live is the immediacy and live interaction that it offers. There are over 214 million Facebook users in the United States, most of which are tapped and programmed to use this platform as a form of communication and news. The reason these videos are so successful is because it allows the live streamer to engage with his/her viewers either through the video or in comments, making live content more immersive and relatable.
Schools could follow this model as well. Rather than having just a linear broadcast, we encourage stream producers to communicate with their viewers at home, answering questions from the comments section or even adding commentary or unseen perspective to the broadcast. This could be done with no additional equipment, and could help viewers stay engaged with the event being streamed instead of watching a plain video. After all, you wouldn’t watch a sports game without a sportscaster, right?
As live multimedia grows in demand, there are more and more media outlets for live video in schools to be shared. And while each school may have their own unique methods of publicizing their social media, there’s no denying that students, schools and families are connected now more than ever before. Livestreams are simply a way of delivering easy-to-digest content that is relevant to these communities.