LIVE-STREAM VIDEOS THAT ROCK: AN HOW-TO GUIDE
Live-stream video combines some of the most tried-and-true methods of engaging with your audience with innovative opportunities to engage a step further.
But there’s more to building engagement than what happens during the broadcasting. There’s a lot you can do before, during, and after you go live to squeeze as much value as you can out of every live video.
From understanding your purpose to measuring your ROI — and everything in between — you have to address many factors for live video to make sense and work for your brand. Let’s take a look at 13 areas in four parts (before, during, after, and measurement).
STEP I: Before the broadcast
Know your purpose
It’s vital that you have a purpose for going live. Do you want to grow your audience? Increase your mailing list? Generate leads? Improve sales?
Going live without knowing WHY is a recipe for disaster. Your broadcast will likely be clunky and disjointed, which can do more harm than good to your brand. Even if you get lucky and have a successful broadcast, you’ll have no true understanding of why it went well — and you won’t be able to replicate the results.
Choose a format
You also need to determine what format your broadcast will take. Some of the most popular formats for live video are:
- Question-and-answer sessions
- How-to instructional videos
- Behind-the-scenes peeks
- Product or service reveals
Your purpose will dictate the type of live session you produce. For example, if your goal is to generate leads, a product reveal or how-to instructional video would be most effective, as you would introduce a new product or explain how your product will benefit the viewers.
By defining the type of broadcast for your audience, you give them a good idea of what to expect and make it much more likely that they’ll get maximum value out of your live session.
Choose the right platform
You have a number of platforms to choose from — each with its own strengths and weaknesses. Let’s look at two of the most popular: Facebook and Periscope (in partnership with Twitter).
Facebook Live allows you to quickly and easily reach out to your followers at the click of a button — without making them download a separate app or program. You receive a number of metrics after broadcasting to help fine-tune your future live sessions.
However, because Facebook isn’t solely a video-streaming app, you have to compete with distractions that pop up on your audience members’ feeds — your broadcast runs the risk of getting lost among a sea of cat videos and memes.
On the other hand, Periscope is devoted to live broadcasts, making it easy for your followers to find and attend your live session. However, for many businesses, their following on Facebook exceeds their presence on Periscope & Twitter. Even when this isn’t the case, because Facebook has a much larger user base the potential for growth is greater on Facebook than on Periscope.
Though you could use a variety of live-broadcast platforms to stream, doing so could lead you to spread yourself too thin. More importantly, some members of your audience on one platform would almost certainly miss topics discussed in broadcasts on another platform.
Craft clear calls to action
Any content marketer worth her salt knows how important a good call to action is for every piece of content. You should know what you’re going to ask your audience to do before you begin your broadcast.
The call to action at the end (or during) your live broadcast should ultimately connect with your purpose for going live.
- If your aim is to widen its reach, ask your viewers to share the video.
- If you want to increase your mailing list, include a link to your landing page in the broadcast’s caption.
- If you showcase a new product, provide numerous opportunities and options for viewers to purchase your goods.
Promote your scheduled broadcast
We all know that the old adage, “If you build it, they will come,” doesn’t work in content marketing. The stakes are even higher when it comes to broadcasting live.
Sure, viewers can watch the replay on your Facebook page or website — but it loses part of its allure because they can’t directly interact with you in real time. You want as many of your fans as possible to know when you’re going live, on what platform, and what they should expect to see.
STEP II: During the broadcast
Stick to the plan
You know why you’re going live. You know what type of live session you want to have. Now you have to put it all together and make it happen.
Having a plan of attack makes it easy to focus on engagement. At a minimum, you need to know:
- How long the session is expected to be so your audience knows up front how much time they’ll be spending with you
- What you’ll be talking about, so you can easily stay on track throughout your broadcast
- What you want your audience to do during and after the broadcast so you can foster engagement through these calls to action
However, because a live broadcast is … well, live … things can happen, both good and bad. You need to be prepared for unexpected events and be able to navigate them effectively to maximize the chances that your audience will stick with you until the end.
You should plan for technical difficulties and other potential problems that could cause you to have to end your broadcast early. If it happens, it happens, but make sure you have something to offer your loyal viewers in return for their patience. (Or at least acknowledge that you are working on the glitch to prevent viewers from wondering what’s happening.)
Live broadcasts also can lead to a good reason to go off-script. For example, if someone asks an insightful question or brings up an important point relevant to the topic at hand, by all means, dive in — especially if other audience members are on board with shifting gears. Having the ability to generate discussion in real time is one of the major benefits of going live. If you aren’t actively trying to take advantage of these opportunities, you might as well have gone with a recorded video in the first place.
Keep your audience on the hook
Once you gather an audience, you want to make sure they stick with you through the broadcast. One of the most effective ways is to make viewers aware of a pain point you gradually ease throughout the broadcast.
No matter the style or format of your live broadcast, you can lead your viewers down the path by:
- Asking questions strategically to reveal a knowledge gap
- Describing the pain they likely feel because they are on the wrong side of the gap
- Sprinkling vital information throughout your broadcast that adds up to a single, cohesive solution
STEP III: After the broadcast
Keep it viewable
Even though your live broadcast is over, there’s no need to let it fade into the past. Post the video to your blog, social media pages, and website. Though it obviously won’t have the same real-time feel as when you were live, fans who missed it will have the opportunity to check it out at their leisure.
In addition to posting the recording wherever possible, promote it through the usual channels, too. This way, customers who may not use the platform where the video lives will be less likely to miss out on your awesome content.
Analyze your performance
After each live session, you’ll want to review the video’s performance and viewer engagement points. When critiquing your performance, consider factors such as:
- Your preparedness
- Your timing
- Your ability to answer questions on the fly
- Quality of information provided
You can then improve these specific areas when preparing your next broadcast.
Furthermore, take a look at how your audience reacted to your video: At what point did it have the most viewers? How often did viewers leave your broadcast? Was there a specific moment in which viewers chimed in with insightful commentary?
STEP IV: Measure the ROI of your live broadcast
While going live might be a new and exciting way to create content, it’s not worth the effort if it doesn’t have a positive impact on your business.
Let’s dive a bit deeper into how measuring engagement can help you figure out the ROI of your live videos. First, analyze your video’s reach metrics such as:
- Total views
- Unique views
- Peak simultaneous audience
- Actions taken (“likes,” shares, and comments)
- Viewer demographics
- Average time spent viewing
- 10-second views
- Completion rate
These metrics won’t necessarily provide direct proof of how live video affects ROI, but when thinking of the big picture, you’ll be able to see overall audience engagement with your brand — and begin to draw conclusions from there.
Analyze lead generation
For more concrete evidence of how a live broadcast affects your ROI, you’ll want to track what your audience does after it leaves your stream.
By providing links to your company’s website wherever possible and appropriate in the live video — overlays, captions, or pinned messages in the comment section — you can look at your site traffic to see how many people came to your site directly through your broadcast. If you prompt viewers to sign up for your mailing list, you can track conversions.
If you are using live video to sell a product, here’s where you’ll be able to tell without a shadow of a doubt how going live affected your ROI. You can use the promoted links to track viewers who purchased your products directly after viewing your video.
You might also offer an exclusive discount code for viewers and track its use in your e-commerce checkout.