When done well, live streams have the ability to break down communication barriers between viewers and your brand. People live stream all sorts of things, whether they’re sharing groundbreaking news or even something simply silly. Remember when Red Bull live-streamed their skydiving attempt from the edge of space? Perhaps one of your friends recently started a live stream to document their first time eating a corn dog! Whatever the case may be, live streams create a shared experience between you and your viewers — and businesses can get in on the action.
This powerful tool allows businsses and brands to connect with their audiences from anywhere, instantly fostering a more personal conversation. In this space, people have a unique chance to ask questions and show their appreciation for your organization. And as it becomes increasingly important for businesses to show they’re authentic and human, we think that live streaming will help keep you ahead of the game. But hold on a second, this doesn’t mean you should go liv estreaming all willy-nilly. Make it a mission to learn how to set yourself up for live streaming success and engage your audience during your stream.
From encouraging interaction to embracing conversation, here are some tips that will help you engage your audience with live video! Let’s dig in.
During live streams, viewers often share their thoughts or questions in a comment section happening in real-time. Whether it’s sharing their love with hundreds of heart emojis or asking hard-hitting questions, those who interact with your live stream want to be noticed by you. Try encouraging conversation and interaction between your audience and your brand by addressing your viewers directly.
While streaming, keep an eye out for interesting questions and people’s comments you can easily piggyback off of. By calling out someone’s name and engaging with their comments or questions, you can create a special moment for that particular viewer. Even though you’re not Beyoncé or another A-list celebrity, giving someone a sense of recognition in a sea of other audience members can make things feel more personal. On the other hand, sometimes your audience may be quiet, more passive viewers. Probe the quiet ones to become active participants by asking simple questions throughout your stream.
“By calling out someone’s name and engaging with their comments or questions, you can create a special moment for that particular viewer.”
And, if you’re planning a live Q&A, you can field questions from your audience across social media platforms before you go live. Fielding questions in advance gives you the opportuntiy to address viewers by name, and for longer live streams, having questions in your back pocket to pull out can keep things flowing more naturally if there’s ever a lull in the comments section.
HERE’S THE LOW-DOWN:
- Keep an eye out for interesting questions that you can piggyback off of
- Call out people’s names specifically when answering questions
- Solicit questions ahead of time to fill the queue just in case
Transparency is the nature of a live stream. Being your authentic self and riding with any slip-ups shows you’re human. While it’s important to be authentic, you don’t have to feel like you’re diving into the deep end as soon as you hit the record button. You can have a loose plan going into the live stream so you know what you’ll be talking about. In fact, we recommend it!
Straying from your outline is no big deal — if your viewers start to get excited about something a little off-topic in the comments section, just roll with it! Chances are your audience will appreciate that you’re engaged with their interests and that you’re taking the time to answer their most burning questions. Go with the flow and think of it as a refresher before you navigate the conversation back on track to the topics you want to cover. Plus, your ability to embrace conversation will reflect positively on your brand.
Right when you think video marketing could not get any more human, live video takes it to another level. It’s almost like FaceTiming with your grandma to ask her about that one super-secret family recipe. Chances are, you’ll wind up talking about a lot more than the recipe, ("How’s school? Are you bundling up with that sweater I knitted you? I hope you’re eating enough broccoli.") But that’s OK! Allow time for connecting with your audience on other topics just like you’d talk about things unrelated to the secret family recipe with your grandma. You’ll establish trust and let them know you’re receptive to what they have to say.
HERE’S THE LOW-DOWN:
- Be your authentic self and ride with any slip-ups to show you’re human
- Have a loose plan in mind, but don’t be afraid to stray from your outline
- Allow time for connecting with your audience on other topics they’re excited about
Although livestreaming our office pup, Lenny, catching as many tossed carrots as he can sounds like high quality material, it’s a good idea to take a strategic approach to live video like you would with any other video you create. Businesses today use live video for Q&As, special announcements, product introductions, interviews, events, behind-the-scenes glimpses, and more. And afterall … who’s to say there isn’t a place for Lenny’s carrot trick in a successful video marketing strategy? Sometimes pure entertainment opens your viewer’s eyes to a never-before-seen aspect of your organization they will surely love.
“It’s a good idea to take a strategic approach to live video like you would with any other video you create.”
With your audience’s interests in mind, sit down and roadmap your content calendar to see what kind of live video could fit best. Ask yourself, “What would people find valuable and engaging?” and “What could I show people to make them feel more connected to our brand?”
After you’ve set a date and established a plan of action, make sure you have at least a few days before your livestream to hype it up and promote it across social media. Don’t let people miss out on everything you have in store! It would be a bummer if you put all the effort into going live but no one joined because they didn’t know about it. Alternatively, people might join, but they may not stick around for long because they have a meeting or some other conflict they didn’t account for. So, let people know about your livestream event in advance so they can get psyched to tune in and cook up their own questions to join the conversation when it’s all happening in real time!
HERE’S THE LOW-DOWN:
- Take a strategic approach to live video and consider your audience’s interests
- Roadmap your content to figure out which type of live video works best
- Promote your livestream across social at least a few days in advance
Picture this: You’re in the middle of your livestream, and suddenly, your coworker walks into the room munching on a bag of cheese puffs. What do you do?
Well, you could brush off the interruption as if nothing ever happened. Or, you could take a moment to improvise and introduce this cheese-puff-lover to your audience. Why not take advantage of unpredictable scenarios? Clue your viewers in to what’s happening in your environment — wherever you are — and roll with it. Moments like these have a tendency to surprise people and keep them engaged.
At Wistia, we recently held a live Q&A with Chris Lavigne and Dan Mills, two of our Creative team members who were responsible for producing our four-part original series One, Ten, One Hundred. In this livestream (check it out below!), we set up several cameras: one on Lenny the labradoodle, one on our social media coordinator fielding questions, and one on an office dinosaur decoration. Our Lenny cam, Maria cam, and Dino cam gave us options to switch points of view for some extra entertainment. No one with a bag of cheese puffs came strolling in, but Maria did sneeze in the background. Did Maria ruin our livestream? Not at all! We switched to our Maria cam to check in with her, and our viewers commented with some laughs and “bless you’s.”
When you’re agile and open to pushing your original plan aside, the spontaneity of livestreams can create opportunities for your authenticity to shine and your audience to interact with you in a light-hearted way.
HERE’S THE LOW-DOWN:
- Don’t be afraid to improvise and take advantage of unpredictable scenarios
- Clue your viewers in on what’s happening in your environment
- Be agile and open to pushing your original plan aside
Whether it’s your first or your fiftieth livestream, you can learn something new to sharpen your skills every time. We don’t think Guy Fieri was born knowing how to perfectly present a dish and take us to Flavortown on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. These things take practice! Perhaps streaming on Facebook Live wasn’t as successful as you thought it would be. Before your next stream, do additional research to figure out which channel your audience is most active on in order to garner more viewers. Or, maybe your sound was a tad bit wonky. For the future, invest in an external microphone to smooth out your audio.
If you recorded your livestream for people to watch at their own leisure, make it a point to play it back for yourself and log things that did and didn’t work. Be your own worst critic so you can keep improving. Before you know it, Guy Fieri will have nothing on you!
What you learn from your live Q&A can also help you unearth some hidden content gems. If people ask a plethora of great questions, take note and jot ‘em all down. Later on, you can sift through what’s burning in the back of people’s minds and look for opportunities to write new blog posts or produce new videos that have all the answers to their questions.
HERE’S THE LOW-DOWN:
- Reflect on your live stream hits and misses to adjust accordingly
- Be your own worst critic so you can keep improving
- Find opportunities to create new content by sifting through people’s questions from live Q&As
Yes, going live can be as simple as pressing a button on your phone. But, as a brand, just winging it for the most part probably won’t do. Unlike going live on your personal Instagram account to your 100 followers, as a business, you have to consider your brand and the image you want to uphold.
“Unlike going live on your personal Instagram account to your 100 followers, as a business, you have to consider your brand and the image you want to uphold.”
If you don’t have a way to engage your audience, there’s no reason for them to stick around. Give people a reason to want to interact with your brand during a stream by creating interest and opening up the conversation. If you make a good impression, people may seek out your other content long after your livestream is over.
We want you to be the confident, friendly host we know you are during your livestream. So, remember these tips for engaging your audience before you jump in. From addressing your viewers to establishing trust, you’ll add a more personal feel to your stream and easily navigate the unexpected!