Lights, Camera, Action! Getting Started with Live Video

Content From: HIV.govPublished: August 13, 20193 min read


Screen grab of a live video featuring Dr. Redfield speaking on Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America.
Credit: CDC NPIN

Live video on social media can be a valuable tool for audience engagement. On Facebook, live videos have almost 6 times more interactionExit Disclaimer than pre-recorded video. At, we use live video to share important news and updates from conferences and events, like CROI 2019Exit Disclaimer or AIDS 2018Exit Disclaimer.

Earlier this year we talked to Brittany Reid, MPH, Health Communication Specialist with CDC’s National Prevention Information Network (NPIN), DLH Corp, about her team’s experience with live videoExit Disclaimer and their best tips. Why did CDC NPIN decide to start using live video?

Brittany: Videos have been such a popular medium online, and it is a great way to connect with your audience, increase your social media engagement, and improve your reach. We knew a conference setting would be fitting to get started with live video because conferences can be so exclusive and individuals can’t always attend. With the fantastic lineup of speakers and inspiring storytelling sessions at the CDC’s National HIV Prevention Conference, we knew it was the perfect opportunity for NPIN to use live video to include those unable to attend. Not only did we make great connections in person at the conference, but with Facebook Live, we enabled the conference content to extend beyond the conference room walls. It also allowed us to connect with our online audience, learn what they’re interested in, and gain new followers! How does CDC NPIN use live video?

Brittany: CDC NPIN primarily uses live video at conferences to stream plenaries, storytelling sessions, and any general session we think our audience may find interesting. Can you describe how you set benchmarks and measure your live video work?

Brittany: We first identify why we want to go live, what information we want to share with the audience, and what a successful live stream looks like to us. For NHPC, sharing key sessions to as many people as possible who were not able to attend the conference in person was our number one goal, so engagement with the live-stream post and video views were important. In particular, 10-second video views, unique viewers, estimated reach, and shares were key performance indicators (KPIs) that were insightful to us. As we continue to use live video, comparing outcomes of different live stream events will be another source to measure success and track the performance of future events. How can someone get started with live video?

Brittany: To get started with live video, all you need is a cell phone and a good Wi-Fi connection! You can stream live on many social media platforms like Facebook, Periscope, YouTube, and Instagram. If you have the budget and staff for production (graphics overlays, backgrounds, set décor, etc.), it can create a better viewing experience for your audience, depending on the setting. However, if you’re just getting started with live video, keep it simple and don’t make things too complicated. Also, think of why you want to do live video, what you want your audience to get from it, and the outcomes you hope to achieve. Based on the answers to those questions, research best practices on how to achieve your goals. What advice do you have for organizations looking to use live video?

Brittany: We suggest starting small. Do you have an upcoming community event? Is one of your staff members speaking at a conference? Consider going live! Behind the scenes interviews, plenaries, and event exclusives are a fun way to engage with your audience and capture their attention.

Thank you, Brittany! To learn more, read our blog post about our tips for going live.