The A to Z Guide to Using Live Stream Video to Grow Your Audience
Live streaming lets you broadcast a video in real-time to viewers. It can be useful if you want to capture important events as they happen and share them with your followers and fans. It also gives you a way to quickly and easily talk with your community.
Instead of having to write a lengthy blog post or send an email, you can click an app on your phone and show your viewers what you’re doing. Businesses can use the power of live video to build brand awareness, drive sales, and strengthen the bond with their customers.
Which Platforms Can You Use for Live Streaming?
Dozens of platforms will allow you to broadcast a live video to viewers. But five sites, in particular, are the most popular and the easiest to use. Here’s what you need to know…
Facebook Live may be the most well-known and popular live-streaming service. You can use it to broadcast from your profile so your friends see your video or you can use it to stream in a group so other group members can watch your video. But there’s also a third option—streaming from your business page.
One of the advantages of using Facebook Live is that the service will automatically notify your friends after you’ve been streaming for a few minutes. This means that Facebook is doing the hard work of gathering viewers for you. All you have to do is hit record.
But that doesn’t mean Facebook Live is the perfect solution. One of the biggest problems with this feature is that it can be difficult to get your video indexed in search engines and after a week or so, it’ll be much harder for viewers to find your video.
That’s where YouTube Live has a slight edge. While you broadcast live to your channel subscribers, your video is already being indexed by Google. This means if your goal for live streaming was to rank in the search engine results page for a certain keyword, then YouTube might be a better fit for you.
Although YouTube Live is great for ranking, it’s not always easy to get interaction on your live videos. You may also experience a large number of users attempting to “troll” your video by hosting hateful or unkind content in the comments. If you’ll be broadcasting, you may want a friend nearby who can moderate comments and remove inappropriate ones.
Another way to live stream to your audience is to use Instagram Stories. Instagram Stories allow you to broadcast to your audience but they’re a bit different than Facebook Live or YouTube Live. That’s because Instagram Stories are limited to just sixty seconds.
You can keep recording several stories back-to-back if you need more time. But try to limit additional videos to no more than four. Too many stories can overwhelm your fans, so don’t aim for a 50-part series.
Another interesting feature of Instagram Stories is that they’re designed to disappear after just 24 hours. This creates urgency for your followers and makes them more likely to watch your stream right away.
But if you need a bit more flexibility, Instagram does allow you to “pin” stories, a feature that the company refers to as “Stories Highlights”. However, pinned stories don’t appear in your newsfeed. They’re only seen on your profile so a user has to navigate to your Instagram page to see your story.
Some brands prefer to use websites that are dedicated to living to stream for their broadcasts. One of the most popular options is LiveStream. The service is designed for professionals and organizations. Their customer list includes businesses, schools, churches, sporting venues, agencies, bands, and governments.
The most exciting feature of LiveStream is that you can create broadcast through their service and have that broadcast appear on Facebook, YouTube, and other live streaming services at the same time. This lets you experience the benefits of each network without having to use clunky programs or complicated software to reach all of your followers.
Some businesses and brands prefer to use Ustream for their broadcasts. Ustream is similar to LiveStream in that it allows you to broadcast from anywhere. But Ustream also has a few features that LiveStream doesn’t.
With Ustream, you can password protect your streams. This can be useful if you’ll want to reach one audience exclusively. For example, if you’re a fitness trainer, then you may broadcast to Facebook with mini workouts.
But your paid subscribers get to access special full-length workouts. With Ustream, you can create the stream then give the password to your members only.
Another advantage of Ustream is that you have access to analytics and data. With analytics, you can learn more about your viewers like and dislike. This helps you create content that appeals to your audience and engages them.
When it comes to choosing a platform for live streaming, you may want to test out different social networks or websites. As you experiment, you’ll discover what works best for your community and what platforms they prefer.
Getting Ready to Stream
Now that you’re familiar with your live streaming options, you may be tempted to turn on your phone or webcam and start recording. But don’t make this mistake or you might regret.
It’s better to take some time and prepare your environment before you begin streaming. The right environment can make a difference between viewers that leave after a few minutes and ones that stay for the entire video.
The most important part of your environment is your lighting. If you’re in a brightly lit area with too much direct sunlight, you may appear washed out. If you’re in a room that’s too dark, it may be difficult for viewers to see you.
So, before you record, take a few selfies. Check the lighting in the selfie. Is it easy to see yourself or do you have to squint? When you take your selfies, you should also check for glare. For example, you may think you look great in your sunglasses but if they’re presenting a glare, you may need to remove them or adjust your position so they’re not distracting your audience.
After you’ve corrected any lighting problems, test your sound. If possible, create a voice memo on your phone and talk like you regularly would for a minute. Then listen to your recording. Is there a lot of background noise making it hard for you to be heard clearly? Is there a troubling echo that makes you sound like you’re in a tunnel?
If background noise is an issue, try moving to another location for your video. If there’s an echo, try adding rugs to the floor and put towels under your doors and near windows. The linens will absorb sound and soften it, creating less of an echo.
Now, you want to consider the background that your viewers will be seeing. If you’ll be in your home office, make sure the background is free of clutter like stacks of books, distracting decorations, or eye-catching artwork.
This doesn’t mean your background must be sterile. It’s fine to have a bookshelf with your favorite books on it, just make sure what’s seen is neat and organized so it doesn’t call attention away from your message.
Finally, don’t forget to consider what you’ll wear during a live video. Try to avoid clothing with loud graphics or text on them. Think of your video as a job interview. If you’d wear the outfit when seeking a potential employer, then it’s probably acceptable for your video.
Be careful about the jewelry and accessories you choose to wear, too. A sparkly necklace might be beautiful but if it catches in the light, it can distract your viewers. If you move your hands a lot, then wearing bangle bracelets will also make it hard for your visitors to focus. There’s nothing wrong with wearing jewelry or accessories in your videos. Just pick them strategically.
How to Find Topics for Live Streaming
One of the hardest parts of creating a live stream is knowing what to say. You don’t want to start a broadcast just for the sake of streaming. You’ll likely ramble and risk boring viewers or you may say things you don’t mean that end up damaging your brand in the long-term.
That’s why it’s smart to think about what you want to say before you go live. This doesn’t mean you have to write out every single word and rehearse it 30 times before you start streaming. It just means that you have an outline, a basic idea of where you want to go before you start the journey.
The best place to begin seeking ideas is in your niche groups. You can do this by creating a poll in your Facebook group. Ask your members what topics they want to know more about. Give them several possible choices and see which ones are the most popular.
You can also start a sentence and ask members to finish the sentence. For example, if you sell yarn to crafters, you might post: “The thing I really could use help on when it comes to my knitting is…”
Use the answers to come up with topics. If one of your members shares that she could use help learning how to make different stitches, then you could do a broadcast where you recommend a stitch dictionary or other resource. Topics like these might seem simple but they can be very effective because you’re tapping into a real need for your audience.
Another way to find content ideas is to look at your blog or website. Study your analytics or metrics and see which posts on your site get the most traffic. Do you have a post on the 5 Worst Mistakes that Writers Make on Twitter?
You can take this content and use it on your broadcast. Don’t read out what the post says word-for-word but do share the main points again. Weave in new stories, add extra details and let your audience know you’re there to serve them.
Some entrepreneurs have also re-purposed short reports and eBooks. Depending on the length, you may even have enough content for a whole series on one topic.
For example, if you have an 8-chapter eBook on web design for newbies, then create eight live streams. Each broadcast is devoted to studying a chapter. You can even invite your viewers to download your eBook so they can follow along.
Don’t get caught up in the trap of thinking that your broadcast content must be perfect or earth-shattering. Sometimes, the most popular content is stuff you consider pretty basic (like the stitch dictionary or Twitter mistakes).
Create Engaging Live Content
When it comes to creating broadcasts, try to identify the purpose of your stream before you go live. This can guide you as you create content and engage with your viewers. For example, some common reasons brands and businesses live stream include:
- Growing their mailing list
- Educating their community
- Getting the word out about a new product
- Connecting with their community
- Promoting a product as an affiliate
Keep in mind that there’s no right or wrong reason to broadcast. But you do need a clear goal because it helps you shape your ideas. For example, a stream where your purpose is to grow your mailing list is going to be different from a stream where you’re promoting an affiliate product.
One of the best ways to make your content engaging is to tell stories during your broadcast. People love hearing stories because they can relate to them. They add an element of humanity to your brand.
But the stories must be relevant to your topic. If your live stream is about how to become more productive and you start telling a story about your cat, you’re going to lose viewers and engagement rates will drop. So, stay on topic when you talk.
You can show off your personality in your streams. But keep in mind what your brand represents. If you have a brand that’s upbeat and funny, then you want to be upbeat and funny in your videos.
But if your brand is serious and informative, then don’t crack jokes the entire time you’re broadcasting. Your viewers will be disappointed by the difference between the content they normally get from you and how you behaved on video.
Get Viewers to Interact with Your Livestream
You can live stream a wonderful video filled with nuggets of information that your community will find valuable. But if no one knows the video exists, then it doesn’t matter how valuable the content was.
The key to getting seen on live streaming platforms is to have viewers interact with you. The more engagement you’re driving through comments, shares, and likes will cause you to rank higher on the website you’re broadcasting from. The higher your video ranks, the more likely it is that users who have never heard of your brand are going to discover you.
So, how do you get viewers to interact with your Livestream? There are many ways to get your community to participate in your broadcast. Start by trying one of these ideas…
Greet your viewers. Imagine going to a party where you’re ignored. No one greets you, not even the host.
If you’re like most people, you’d find this upsetting and you may even decide to leave the party. This is how viewers feel when they click on your stream without being acknowledged.
You don’t have to give them a long, formal greeting. You can do something simple like, “Hello, Simon, welcome to my live stream! Today, we’re talking about…”
Ask questions. If you’ve ever had a boss or friend that could only talk about their life, you know how annoying that can be. You were hoping for a conversation but the other person couldn’t be bothered to ask you about your day or listen to your response.
Don’t do this to your community! After you’ve been talking for a few minutes on your stream, ask a question then pause. Give your viewers time to respond in the comments section.
You may even want to read a few of the comments out loud and respond to them. Don’t worry if you can’t respond to every single comment. Even just conversing once or twice shows you care.
Host a contest for shares. Another way to boost the visibility of your live stream is to get your viewers to share it with their friends. Many brands offer a prize to users in exchange for sharing what they’re watching on their favorite social media network.
Your prize doesn’t have to be big. It could be something simple like a pair of sunglasses, a $5 Amazon gift card, or a copy of your favorite book.
Invite your viewers to post. You could also encourage participation by asking your viewers to post something personal in the comments section. For example, if you’re in the pet industry, tell your viewers to share a picture of their fur-baby in the comments.
Choose what you ask your audience to share strategically. If you’re in the parenting industry and ask your viewers to share their favorite picture of their child, they may not do so for safety reasons.
Thank your visitors. When the live stream is winding down, stay for an extra few minutes and thank your visitors. Plan to linger for around ten minutes so you can answer additional questions or express your gratitude for the support you’ve received.
Schedule Your Live Streams
One of the best things you can do to grow your live streams is to do them regularly. When you regularly broadcast videos at the same time each week, your followers are more likely to tune in and watch. If you’re not sure how to turn your live streams into a regular show, try using some of these tips…
Host a guest each week. Pick guests that your audience will find interesting or informative. Look for people who have something they can teach your audience. For example, if your brand is geared toward pet parents then interview an animal behavior specialist.
Ask your guest a few questions you’ve prepared then open up the floor. Let your viewers ask questions in the comments and have your guests respond with their answers.
Share weekly tips. Not all of your broadcasts have to be super long or complicated to set up. You can do a weekly show that teaches your viewers one tip to make their lives or businesses better.
For example, if your brand is all about raising children then have a weekly tip for parenting toddlers. Give viewers sound advice they can apply to their toddlers so they can see results.
Do a challenge each week. Challenges are fun and encourage healthy competition. What your weekly challenge is all about should be based on your niche.
For example, if your brand is all about fitness, then you can do a weekly fitness boot-camp challenge. Encourage your viewers to get up and do the exercises with you.
Create a weekly format. Some shows work best when they follow the same formula each week. There’s an HGTV show where homebuyers are presented with three different houses they could buy. The viewers see each home and watch as the buyers debate the pros and cons.
At the end of the episode, the house that was chosen is revealed. There’s usually a follow-up interview with the buyers as they share what it’s like to be settled into their new house.
You can create a similar formula for your broadcasts. You can interview three different guests, experiment with three products, or provide three insider tips that your viewers don’t know about. Once you find a formula that works, stick with it and watch as your engagement soars.
How to Promote Your Products without Selling
When you live stream, you’re not just doing it for your viewers. You want to sell your products, too. But if you’re spammy or unethical, you could end up coming across as one of those infomercial scams. This could in turn damage your brand, making it even harder for you to sell your product.
But there are ways to sell your product on your broadcast without giving up your ethics or resorting to high pressure, hard-sell tactics. Here’s what to do…
Focus on educating your viewers. Think of what someone new to your niche might need or want to know. For example, if you run a software company that specializes in social media scheduler, then you could do a live stream on how to create a social media strategy.
Toward the end of your video, mention how social media schedulers make it so much easier to plan your strategy. Then share that your software also comes with analytics and why business owners must have access to this type of data.
Your goal here isn’t to sell the customer immediately. You just want them aware of your service so they know it’s an option.
Offer a mini version of your product. Give your viewers a taste of your product by turning one of your broadcasts into a free sample. For example, if you sell a video course on training your puppy at home, then do a training session in your local park.
Broadcast this session to your favorite websites and social media platforms. Let your viewers see you in action. At the end of your video, invite your viewers to learn more by visiting your website.
Use tutorials to boost your product. Some products require a learning curve before customers know how to use them. This is where your live stream can come in handy. All you have to do is create a broadcast showing how the item is used.
If your business sells beauty products, then create a contouring tutorial. Show your viewers how to make their makeup look flawless while hiding blemishes and other skin problems. As you’re working, your viewers will be asking questions and might be curious to know what products you’re using. Be prepared with an answer and a link back to your site ready-to-go.
Create a Q & A session with your broadcast. If you’re selling a product or service that has many moving parts or is complex, you probably have more than a few people stuck in the pre-buying phase. They want your product. They think it’d be a good fit. But they’re just not sure. They typically have questions but might be too shy or too busy to reach out.
The good news is that you can reach these people by having a Q & A session on your broadcast. You can invite your subscribers to submit questions before the broadcast and during it. You don’t have to push your products during the live stream. But do have links ready in case a potential customer asks for one.
Use a Call-to-Action in Your Live Stream
At the end of every piece of content you create, you want to use a call-to-action. It’s no different from a live stream. You still want a call-to-action that encourages your viewers to do something after consuming your content. Here are a few CTAs you might want to consider adding to the end of your next broadcast…
Download (freebie) now. If the goal of your broadcast was to encourage visitors and viewers to become subscribers, then this is the CTA you want. Ideally, you’ll use this call when you have a relevant content upgrade that would be useful for your viewers.
For example, if your live stream was about organizing your home, then having an organization checklist or printable planner would be valuable to your audience.
Get a free (quote). If you offer services that depend on your clients’ needs, then give them a chance to get a quote from you. Remind your viewers that this is “risk-free” and their information will be kept confidential.
Follow (brand) today. If your goal for this live stream was to grow your platform, then ask your viewers to follow you on social media. But don’t try to get them to follow you on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest all at once. That’s too much information and might overwhelm your audience.
Instead, pick one social network and ask them to follow you there. Try to pick the social network that’s most popular in your niche and focus on driving your traffic there.
Book a discovery call instantly. Use 15-minute discovery calls to help clients determine if you’ll work well together. Invite them to book a call then provide a link to a booking service like Calendly.
Start your free trial. This call-to-action encourages viewers further into your sales funnel and gives them the chance to explore your offer. Be sure to remind your customers that “no credit card is required”.
If possible, you want to mention the limit of your free trial. You might say, “Start your free 7-day trial today.” The point of mentioning the seven days is that it adds urgency. Your viewers hear 7-days and think they need to act now to secure the deal.
Create an account. Another option is to invite users to create an account on your website. Let them know they can sign up for free and explore your website before they commit to a purchase.
When you’re brainstorming your CTA, remember to focus on the goal of your live stream and design it around that. Not every broadcast is about selling to your audience. Some days, you may focus on getting potential customers into your sales funnel or growing your social media presence.
Most importantly, don’t forget to use analytics. When you’re making live streams, it’s easy to get distracted and forget about your stats. But you should stop and examine them at least once a month. Look at which of your streams are most popular, which ones received the most comments, and how many of them converted into product sales.
When you study your analytics, you may discover new insights. For example, you might find that your most popular live streams are at eight in the evening. This can help you plan your next stream to maximize viewer potential.