Trish, how can I have a fun and safe livestream on Insta or YouTube?
Hi there, and welcome back to another week of Ask Trish! Wherever you are in the world, I hope January has been treating you and yours well.
To the person who submitted this week’s question, thank you so much for the great question. I want to begin by validating your question and the anxiety you might feel around social media live streaming – it’s an extremely authentic, vulnerable way with which to share yourself and who you are, in real-time. If you think posting vacay pics is a little stressful, live streaming can be a real doozy. But it’s increasingly popular, particularly on video-based platforms like YouTube and Twitch and even platforms like Instagram. So wondering about how you can have a fun, safe live streaming experience is not only absolutely justified, it’s extremely relevant and timely. All that’s to say – this question is spot-on, and I have no doubts that many members of our Ask Trish community have the same worry/concern on their minds.
In this post, I hope to assuage some of those fears with some (hopefully!) helpful knowledge and tips! I’ll briefly start by discussing what live streaming is and the different ways it manifests in our digital universe; I’ll then leave you all with a brief list of tips to make your live-streaming experience what you want it to be. I hope these tips are empowering, and leave you feeling less worried/more in control of your live streaming experience. With that said, let’s get into it:
Let’s start with the basics: what is live streaming? Put simply, live streaming, or live streaming technologies allows you to create or watch video-based content as it happens in real-time. (Note that, for the purposes of this post, we’re focused specifically on social media-based live streaming – that is, live streaming that happens on platforms like YouTube and Instagram – as opposed to live streaming TV.) Live streaming on social media can feel a lot like TV, though; with a click of a button, you’re “broadcast” to all of your followers (and, if you’ve got a public account, anyone else who wants to join in!). These viewers can often react to the livestream and/or share their comments and perspectives. Oftentimes, you can invite friends to join you in a live stream, whether for a conversation or a game. You can imagine, then, how live streaming content can be extremely engaging and fun for viewers. Note that the content itself is extremely diverse – on platforms like Instagram and YouTube, it can involve everything from conversations between celebrities to everyday vloggers taking you – in real-time – through their morning routine; meanwhile, on platforms like Twitch, it’s extremely popular for highly-skilled gamers to livestream their gaming in real-time, while viewers watch on in awe and anticipation.
Okay, so that’s live streaming. How, then, can you make the most of it in a way that is safe and fun? I’ve got a number of tips and suggestions, several of which are rooted in tackling common live streaming challenges that can arise:
Unfortunately, it’s sometimes the case that not everyone that joins your live stream is kind. And that’s a shame, because mean reactions can really #ruinthevibe, and, embarrassingly, are on display for other viewers to see, too. Depending on the platform, this cyberhate can manifest itself in different ways, but it often involves comments that are disparaging or other types of reactions (e.g., on Instagram, you can react to live streams with emojis) that are rude or hurtful. It’s important to remember that while this behavior can at times be typical, that doesn’t make it okay – your live streaming experience should never be characterized by hatred. To that end, I strongly encourage you to take control. On Instagram, for instance, you can control if you’d like to hide your “Live” (what Instagram calls a live stream) from specific people, and even appoint someone to be a moderator of a live stream, should you be having a conversation. Are these solutions perfect? No. But they’re a good way to put yourself in the driver’s seat and make sure your live streaming experience is comfortable and empowering.
It’s also often true, as alluded to above, that live streaming can feel a little vulnerable and make you feel self-conscious. After all, unlike a perfectly timed Insta post or an edited YouTube video, you can’t curate or control every aspect of what you’re sharing. It’s worth, then, reflecting on why you want to live stream and if you do feel comfortable doing so. If you don’t, again, critically consider why. If it’s for fear of “not being good enough,” I promise you, that couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, some of the most popular live streamers on platforms are folks who are unconventional or seemingly “different” in a number of ways, e.g., given their tastes or hobbies but are also 100% authentically themselves. Remember, it’s always good to be yourself.
^To build off of that point, because live streaming happens in the moment and isn’t particularly curated/edited, it can be easier to inadvertently reveal sensitive information or compromise your privacy. For instance, you may be livestreaming and forget that there’s some sensitive information (like a password on a post-it note!) behind you. Keep this in mind and be as intentional as you can in trying to protect your privacy. In many cases, platforms still allow you to control the live streaming experience, e.g., letting you set a specific background. Take advantage of these tools to protect yourself.
And finally, in that^ spirit, I strongly recommend as a general tip that you be as intentional and smart as possible when you live stream. Y’all are smart – I know that! – so make sure you keep that common sense at the forefront of your mind. Before you livestream something, think twice: is what you’re sharing appropriate? Have you considered how it might make others feel? Put yourself in the shoes of others. And always make sure to consider the tips above! A little bit of intentionality and attention to detail can go a long way.
I hope you found this post helpful, and that these tips help you realize a fun, safe live streaming experience. Remember, in spite of what the #haters might say, you and your digital content is awesome – and you deserve a safe, empowering live streaming experience. As we discussed, you shouldn’t hesitate to take control to make that experience your reality. Please let me know if my suggestions help you – or if you face other challenges – in the comments section of this week’s TikTok video.
Before I sign off, it’s time for my weekly reminder (you know what’s coming!): if you’ve got thoughts, questions, or concerns about the Internet, please share them here. Your question just might be featured in an upcoming TikTok/blog post. It’s a win-win-win – you (hopefully) get some valuable advice, I get to produce some fun TikTok content (and write about it – which I love to do!), and our Ask Trish community benefits from our dialogue. So don’t hesitate – fill out the form! I can’t wait to hear from you, and thank you in advance for your fantastic questions.
Wishing you all a great week ahead,