Biz Tips: Going live opens whole new universe

Biz Tips: Going live opens whole new universe

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Going live opens whole new universe

Livestream is Ross Brand’s universe. The former radio on-air personality and reporter caught the livestreaming bug after exposure to Blab, a social network that gave users a platform on which to connect via live video conversations.

Blab’s streak lasted a bit longer than a shooting star before it unceremoniously vaporized. Brand, on the other hand, is still streaming better than ever.

Based in northern New Jersey, he helps clients use livestreaming on behalf of their business or personal brand. Brand also creates audio and voice content for podcasts and Alexa flash briefings.

The creator of LivestreamUniverse.com, he talked with Winnie Sun, one of the financial industry’s most sought-after professionals, about how each of them capitalizes on live video.

Sun is a mom of three. From her headquarters in southern California, she is a financial advisor to businesses, nonprofits and families all across the country.

Live video has become an important element in promoting events. Opinions vary on when to start marketing.

“It’s best to start promoting an upcoming live event two weeks prior, but we often find ourselves promoting just a day or two before,” Sun said. “Often, our videos are triggered from trending news.”

Brand definitely won’t wait until the last minute.

“It’s never too early to promote an upcoming live video broadcast,” he said. “Since people are bombarded with info online, it’s good to have a way to remind them before you go live. Let them opt-in to your email list, messenger bot and so on.”

Brand believes in marketing without time limits.

“Continue to promote your livestreaming content after the show ends,” he said. “You will often get as many or more viewers — sometimes a lot more — watching the replay.

“Promotion of your livestreams shouldn’t end when you go live,” Brand said. “You want to have some tweets scheduled to go out while you are live. Share Facebook Live videos from your business page to your personal timeline.”

Streaming a live video has advantages over producing an edited video.

“Streaming live is a lot faster, and the audience is more forgiving on quality,” Sun said. “However, for our evergreen content we still take the time to get it edited.”

Live results in better, direct communication.

“The advantages of live versus produced videos is that livestreaming fosters a two-way conversation with your customers and community,” Brand said. “It is the closest thing to meeting them in person. You have an active chat where people feel a part of the show instead of being passive viewers.

“Live builds stronger relationships between host and viewer, increasing trust and credibility,” he said. “Viewers know you are communicating in real time. People get a sense of what it would be like to work with you, how knowledgeable you are and how you communicate.”

Storytelling brings across the true you, which makes it imperative to have your facts straight. You’ll improve with practice in front of friendly audiences who can offer helpful suggestions.

“This is something we are still working on,” Sun said. “Many of my clients are super busy. We need to get to the point quickly, but when audiences watch video, they want to be entertained, which is all about storytelling.”

Good presentations will help remove artificial barriers.

“Storytelling in live video is important because it makes the host relatable,” Brand said. “You hit on common themes and experiences. It gives the customer a chance to identify with your journey or another customer’s journey and how your product or service was the solution.

“One form of storytelling people often don’t consider is interviews,” he said. “Talking with customers about their experience with your product or service is powerful. Their answers are credible because they aren’t scripted and edited. Vet the guest beforehand, of course.”

Before you can promote videos, you have to know who you’re aiming for.

“The best way to find your target audience is to survey your favorite people, clients and community,” Sun said. “I’m a big believer in like attracts like. I want to spend time and to do business and communicate with people I like.”

The first place to look is for those who respond to your products.

“Your target audience for livestreaming content starts with people who have opted in to receiving your other content,” Brand said. “They include people on your mailing list and those following you on social. Promote upcoming and past livestreams to them. But it goes beyond that.

“Being active in Facebook groups related to your industry where your target customers hang out is a good idea,” he said. “Also, watch and participate in the chat during livestreams on similar topics. Connect with new people via hashtag searches on Twitter and Instagram.”

It’s also important not to get excited and overdo publicity.

“You don’t want to spam groups or comments on other people’s posts with ‘Come watch my show,’” Brand said. “You want to create interest through your engagement that will lead them to follow you and perhaps opt-in to your email list. Then they will see your show promotions.

“There is no one simple answer,” he said. “Remember to use hashtags popular — but not too popular — in your promo posts. Look in groups for those ‘share your show’ threads. You can also start or leverage your own Facebook group to build your audience for livestreaming shows.”

Going live depends on proper use of specific tools.

“I really like going live on the native apps but am considering going back to BeLive.tv,” Sun said. “We also use Wirecast when we want to go live on multiple platforms, but it’s a trickier software.”

Brand takes a similar route.

“For Facebook Live talk shows, I use BeLive.tv as the platform for hosting and producing my shows,” he said. “It is easy to bring guests in with a link. It enables you to share comments on the screen, which is great for engagement. You can add lower thirds, logos, text and frames.

“I love Wirecast by Telestream for live video streams to YouTube and other platforms,” Brand said. “You have total control to set up shots as you want, use you own branding and add professional elements to your videos. For mobile live videos via iOS, Switcher Studio is great.”

Those more experienced might try to manage several channels.

“For people wanting to livestream to multiple platforms, Switchboard Live is awesome,” Brand said. “LiveLeap automatically syndicates your livestreams across multiple Facebook pages and profiles as soon as you go live. Look at Facebook cross posting for collaboration and expanded reach.

“Back to Facebook Live shows, BeLive.tv makes it so easy to add professional elements and engage with the chat,” he said.

Each platform is special. Going live on Facebook differs from going live on Instagram, YouTube and Twitter.

“We have been successful in using Wirecast to stream on multiple platforms, but every audience is slightly different, so this isn’t 100 percent of the time,” Sun said.

“I like using the native apps to go live for each respective social platform,” she said. “It allows us to see commentary. You really know who you’re talking to on which platform. Make sure your lighting is good.”

Brand based himself on one platform and branched out.

“Facebook is the best place to start when new, unless you have a big following on another platform,” he said. “Facebook and YouTube are better for interviews, talk shows and ‘teaching’ videos. Instagram Live is great for casual mobile live videos, though you can do those on Facebook and YouTube as well.

“Think of Facebook like a radio show where people listen in short stretches,” Brand said. “Recap and update new viewers on the topic and your guest. Facebook audiences have lots of distractions. Changing shots, using text on screen and so on helps capture attention in news feeds.”

Phone orientation also is platform-specific.

“On Instagram, keep your phone vertical,” Brand said. “One way to stand out on Instagram is to have good audio. If you use earbuds, make sure the mic isn’t constantly clicking against something. If you can use a mic, that’s even better.

“Save video to phone when you are done for repurposing,” he said.

Fear of missing out — the dreaded FOMO — also comes in to play. Streamers can use that to their advantage when going live.

“You shouldn’t worry about FOMO,” Sun said. “Go live when you can. Business comes first, at least for us.”

Brand looks for windows of opportunity.

“There’s only a brief time to be part of the live chat and interact with the host,” he said. “People don’t want to miss that opportunity. Mix in spontaneous — pop-up — livestreams that you don’t promote to create FOMO.”

Livestreaming won’t attract viewers by itself. It takes a little prodding.

“We have had success with calls to action during the livestream or inviting people to livestream with us,” Sun said. “That talk-show format has worked well for us.”

Brand gave several ways to encourage interaction when livestreaming:

  • Ask a question that requires a response in the chat.
  • Ask people what questions they have for your guest.
  • Contest, giveaway or prize.
  • Ask people to share or tag a friend.
  • Ask viewers to vote on something.
  • Put comments from viewers on the screen or read them during show — where they fit.
  • Invite a viewer to join live on-camera.
  • Put a link out for any viewer to join live on-camera.
  • Welcome viewers by name.

Using scripts on livestreaming can come across as a bit wooden, but “winging it” could be a disaster.

“I like have a basic outline of a script that doesn’t have everything mapped out,” Sun said. “The bullets are there to help you hit all your important points.

“Video and livestreaming is quick,” she said. “You need to make sure you provide value without looking like a canned message.”

Preparation will show on the air.

“I don’t use a script when I’m live and rarely have an outline or any notes,” Brand said. “That doesn’t mean I’m winging it. I’m either already knowledgeable about the subject or guest or did my preparation before the show.”

He gave his script pros and cons:

  • Cons — You may rely too heavily on the script and end up reading. Generally, that isn’t what a live audience wants. They want to see the real you and interact with you. You also might ask a question your guest already answered.
  • Pros — There are times when reading is better than having gaps or getting something wrong, such as when addressing a controversial subject on behalf of a business. A script ensures you say exactly what you need to with no misunderstandings.

“My advice for new livestreaming hosts is to script your first few lines and last line for a smooth intro and easy landing,” Brand said. “For interviews, have a list of questions that you can fall back on if needed. Focus more on listening to the guest.”

Going live and general video have different time requirements, but nothing definitive.

“Our live videos are better when they are longer,” Sun said. “That gives the audience time to get into the program.

“If you think about it, most television shows are about 20 minutes with commercials,” she said. “That formula works here, too.”

Brand gave what he called a cliché answer.

“It depends,” he said. “Viewing for Facebook Live videos tends to peak 10 to 20 minutes in. Planning to have a 30-minute show is a good minimum. Don’t drag something out just to stay on.”

Sun had simple advice for a live video newbie.

“Practice, practice, practice,” she said. “You can do this without the video going live. You want to get your delivery strong. Then work on details such as proper lighting and camera.”

The veteran Brand gave these points to keep in mind:

  • Audio quality is more important than video quality.
  • A consistent day and time helps viewers find you and lets them know you are committed to it.
  • If only a few live viewers, always give them your best and don’t forget the replay.

Live video is more popular than edited video clips. Livestreaming seems to resonate more with audiences.

“Live video is popular because it’s raw,” Sun said. “Your audience gets to communicate with you in real time. It gives people access to you through the screen. It’s true social media TV.”

Participation helps draw attention.

“Live video is interactive,” Brand said. “The viewer can participate, have access to the host, ask questions, chat with other viewers. It’s a much more engaging experience. Plus, there’s fear of missing out.”

Miscues on live video are preventable.

“The biggest mistake I see on live video is not being prepared,” Sun said. “If the delivery isn’t there or if I don’t feel like you’re talking to me, I lose interest.”

Brand gave these easy-to-avoid mistakes:

  • Changing the game-plan based on number of live viewers.
  • Host hogging the mic and not giving the guest a chance to talk.
  • Not promoting after the show.
  • Disrespecting replay viewers by not starting once you go live.
  • Not showing up.

Sun and Brand have their favorite go-live people to catch.

“Ross Brand is great along with Ai Addyson-Zhang, Gary Vaynerchuk and many others,” Sun Said.

Brand said he loves to watch Jennifer Quinn, Black Belt Bots, Coach Jennie, Jim Collison, David Jackson, Jessika Phillips, Kim Doyal, Joie Gharrity, Go2Kitchens, Phil Gerbyshak, Mitch Jackson, Mari Smith and Doing It With Jason.

About The Author

Jim Katzaman is a manager at Largo Financial Services and worked in public affairs for the Air Force and federal government. You can connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

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