Live video presents an awesome opportunity for brands to connect with their audience in an authentic and valuable way. When it comes to social media, there’s no better way to share a real moment with people than to go live with platforms like Facebook, YouTube or Snapchat (among the most popular platforms for livestreaming).
However, while it may be technically as easy as just pointing your phone at something random and tapping “go,” there are some strategic steps you should take to ensure both that your audience will benefit from the effort and that you’ll be presenting your brand in the best possible light.
At dooley media, we’ve executed numerous live video strategies for our clients. We’ve seen awesome results, but we’ve also learned many lessons along the way. The tips below come from these experiences and are segmented into the three main categories:
Planning (the bulk of the effort!)
Reflecting (and boosting!)
Part 1: Planning
Communicate all the important details to your audience ahead of time.
Your attendees need to know key details, like time, day, topic, and (most importantly) the value they will get from attending. Answer these questions:
- What will I learn?
- Why should I trust you to give me this information?
- Why should I care?
Remember to setup a Facebook Event so people can easily add the date and time to their calendars. (You can consider using your GoToMeeting or other webinar software to setup downloadable calendar links, too.) You definitely also want to consider your other promotional options, such as email blasts. Running a few ads/boosted posts in a no-brainer and will make sure a good chunk of your target audience receives and remembers this information.
Bonus tip: Try telling people an end time, too. This detail can help potential attendees know exactly what time commitment to expect.
Plan enough content for the time you need to fill.
You can use previous speaking engagements as a baseline. If none exist, try feeding a script (or even a similar blog post) into a free online ‘speaking time’ engine that will estimate how long it takes to speak the words aloud.
The most important thing to remember when writing out your timeline or script is to make sure it’s tightly focused on the value you’ll be providing attendees, whether it’s the expert advice you’re sharing or an insider look at your business. Everything should tie back to the “big idea” of the event.
This will also help you focus your event promotion strategy. For instance, who wouldn’t be enticed by this Instagram Story screenshot from @thepointsguy?
Have good content.
Note: This means going beyond your prepared presentation materials or sales slide decks.
While it may be the most convenient option, presentation material isn’t usually the best content for a live stream. It can come off as rehearsed and “performed.” The trick to going beyond something that might turn out boring is to get the speaker out of their comfort zone. With a little training and guidance—see the host training tip below—your video stars will be more casual and spontaneous.
Need some ideas for a topic to focus on? Here are a few basic ideas to get you started:
A “top 5” list – This lets your audience know exactly what they’ll walk away with
Do a Q&A or an AMA (“ask me anything”) focused on a new product or something related to your industry
Give followers an inside look at your new office/factory/etc.
Interview a third-party influencer
Host a relevant trivia game—and give away prizes
Focus on something instructional, such as cooking, painting, etc.
If you have the technical chops to pull it off (or a great social media partner to help you out ;)), slides and text overlays (aka “supers”) are a great way to add visual variety to the live stream. In a Q&A, for example, you can place things like the interviewee’s name/title or the current question being asked on the bottom of the screen.
Take time to create these graphics during the lead-up to your event, and you might even be able to reuse them (or template them out) for future video productions, too.
Experiment with different start times.
If an amazing live stream happens but no one is there to see it, did it really happen?
You can look at your Facebook Page’s Insights tab for some ideas about when your followers are most likely to be online, but the only way to know for sure which times are best for a Live session is to try different options. (Note: This could entail scheduling something outside of your normal business hours.)
For Facebook, you can schedule your Live session to begin automatically. This triggers a Newsfeed post where people can opt in and be reminded when you’re live, e.g. “[your page] plans to go live.” There will also be a “lobby” for viewers that automatically opens 3 minutes prior to the live session beginning, allowing users to interact with each other in the lad up to the event.
It’s a nice feature that can help you make sure the event starts exactly on time—just make sure you’re completely ready to gos! It also requires you to use a third-party video recording software. If you want to try scheduling a live session, there are some nice instructions provided by Agora Pulse.
Train your host.
Your company (or client) may employ great thought leaders and experts, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they will be completely comfortable in front of a camera. Even if they are, it’s still best to help the prepare for the Live medium. Remember, live social media videos are only a few years old, so there really aren’t that many experts out there.
Here are a few of the tips we give our clients before the camera’s roll:
Welcome new viewers as they arrive
Encourage engagement: Encourage viewers to ask questions, follow the page, or tag a friend
Relax. It’s OK if things don’t flow perfectly.
If there’s a big reveal or key piece of content coming up at the end, remember to tease it throughout the show. This will help keep viewers engaged longer.
Consider bringing in third-party influencers, too.
You may have vendor partners or even influencer relationships that you can leverage during a live stream. Facebook actually makes this easy: Using the “Live With” tool, you can invite another person to join your livestream. (Note: you must be using a mobile device.) Your guest will be automatically tagged in your Live post, and their followers will also receive a notification that they were live with you.
Part 2: Executing
Remind people about the event just before it starts.
You can use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn to blast out day-of reminders to your audience so they remember to tune in. Don't forget you can cross-promote on all your platforms, not just the one you're streaming from. This can also include your secondary accounts—or even your savvy social media agency's account, too.
Choreograph an interactive experience.
First step: Pause and welcome your guests. It might feel a little strange, but it’s best practice and it really helps people feel like they’re part of the moment. This is a simple step that will increase your viewer retention.
Remember to also set aside time to answer questions and comments from viewers, as well as time for organic conversations between participants.
A key tip here is to set up a screen for your host(s) so they can actually see people joining and the comments coming in, allowing him/her/them to react in real time. This screen should ideally be plugged into Facebook directly, showing the presenter what the viewers are seeing rather than the video software your team may be using. (For tips on using Live with API, check out the developer tips here.)
Experiment with the length, too.
You’ll get more bang for your buck the longer you go, since more people will show up as time goes on. And Facebook recommends that businesses go at least 10 minutes (fun fact: you’re currently allowed to stay live up to 4 hours! But, good luck with that).
However, here’s a pro tip: err on the side of being too short. You want to compact your great content into the most digestible size possible, which takes time and skill. Short does not mean easy! The basic idea is to only go as long as you your content will let you. Do this right, and you’ll pack a bunch that will leave people wanting more! (There were some great tips on this concept of “ephermeral content” shared at our recent Show and Tell event. Check out our Big Ideas PDF for more tips!)
Thank your attendees.
At the end of the video, be sure to thank everyone still turned in for spending their time with you. This is also another great chance to plug your call-to-action.
Part 3: Reflecting (and getting even more bang for your buck!)
Re-upload (and boost) an edited version.
Many people don’t know this, but you can actually download your live video after the “live” portion is over. Then, by hiding the original video, you get a chance to edit out any awkward pauses and even add in custom branding you didn’t have during the live take. This also provides another opportunity to boost your reach by re-uploading the video to Facebook. You can even put it on YouTube, your website or other platforms, too.
Check out the Social Media Examiner walkthrough here for a nice, step-by-step walk-through.
Recap the effort internally, too.
We like to take time after a live video session to get together with the full team and talk about what happened. Ask everyone to share what they felt went well and what could be done better this time, and be sure to take notes! (In fact, some of our team’s notes made their way into this article ;) ).
You should also be sure to capture all your metrics in some sort of report. This will give your stakeholders a better idea of the value behind these efforts.
Over to You...
We hope these tips help you create an awesome Live Video experience for your audience! Let us know how it goes or share your own tips in the comments below.
Learn more about our social media consulting services at dooleymedia.com/services and subscribe to be the first to see our future guides and tips.