What You Need to Know about Live Streaming
I have been doing video and live video since 2005 when Apple released their first video iPod, which was even before the iPhone. I started doing a video podcast back then and gained an audience really quickly since there was no one else to watch, because I was one of the only people that was even available to have content. Now 11 years later, I can count over 1 billion video views of both videos and live streams, 3,500 videos that I’ve done, and right now I teach others to use the same tools to grow their businesses.
Live Streaming Is a Marketing Strategy
The thing you need to understand about live video is that it is a marketing strategy, just like anything else that you’re putting into your plans to grow your business. So when you think of live streaming as a strategy, there are a couple of things that you need to do. There’s a three-part marketing strategy that I would encourage you to put into place.
First and foremost: consistency. The way to grow anything is consistency. When I say “consistency,” I encourage you to have a weekly show, something that is value oriented, maybe educational based. Something that you can sit down on the same day and at the same time every week and say, “Here viewers, here customers, here potential customers, I am giving to you and I’m showing you that I am trustworthy, and I’m going to be here every single Monday at 10:00 a.m. and you can come join me and we can hang out together and we can learn together.”
The second part of the strategy is random streams, what I call “live streams,” where you go live from your mobile phone and you just engage the audience from a human perspective. So your value is on a consistent, live show, and that gives your brand randomness and spontaneity. For example: “Let’s just what’s hang out. I got a new puppy. Let me show you my new puppy,” or “I’m going to go live while traveling and take you on the journey with me.” That’s the human element to your live streams. When those two things are working together, it’s a really effective strategy.
On top of that, your third part is that you have the afterlife of the video that you repurpose that content you posted to your website and re-promote it. You run ads to it if you’re using Facebook live. So those three parts to your strategy are going to make sure that you can use live video effectively.
Finding the Right Audience
In terms of finding the right audience, you first and foremost have to understand who your target market is. That’s rule number one in business. Once you have that in place, it depends on which platform you’re going to use and there are benefits to both, but in terms of an actual business live stream and engaging the right target market, Facebook is a really good way to do that, and it has way more features than the other platforms at this point. So I would encourage you to go on Facebook and have a business page. So automatically anybody who has liked or followed that page is going to be your target market. If they haven’t liked it already, it’s most likely because of some random reason.
So there’s your starting point. If you have an email list or if you have any social presence whatsoever, pushing out the content that gives you insight into what your target market likes, cares about, and needs. Once you understand that, you’re going to start attracting the right kind of people for additional content. As long as you are providing value that is going to match what they need and that ultimately has a connection to your product or service, then that snowball will start to roll.
Planning is massively important, especially if you’ve never gone live before and that makes you a little nervous to think about. If you’re used to delivering content in this format, but just to video, then it’s really no different. But your adrenaline starts to pop up and that causes you sometimes to lose your train of thought. It is okay to look down at your bullet points and make sure that you’re staying on track.
The other thing is engagement. Once you start going live, and once you start doing these streams, you need to make sure that you’re not overly engaging. One of the things that that you’ll do in the prepping part of it is thinking about your format for your live stream. So you open it up, you tease the audience a little bit, tell them what they’re going to get, then you do a little bit of engagement, you bring in some value pretty quickly, and then you can break for more engagement.
If you bullet point it out, then you can find breaks in your list of things that you want to talk about where it actually makes sense to have a kind of breath, a pause, a moment where you can actually start to take some questions or talk to people. Then you’ll be able to get right back on track as soon as you’ve done a little bit of that. It’s a bouncing back and forth kind of model, but that will help you deliver content when you’re starting your live streams.
Pitching Your Business
You don’t want it to appear that the only reason you’re doing this is to sell your product. However, calls to action are massively important, so provide that value. Be there for your customers; build that relationship. Calls to action can actually be just a part of the conversation. They don’t have to be a full-on pitch. They can be more of a natural segway such as, “Hey, I’ve just spent 30 minutes with you delivering great value. If you want to take further steps with us, this is how you can do that.” And that works really well because it’s not a pitch, which people don’t like. They don’t want to feel sold to.
The other thing to keep in mind when offering products and services is that you can do content that’s based around your product. Let’s say your product is a microphone. You can create content around that microphone. So you can talk about audio quality, you can talk about things that relate that make it an easy sell anyway. That’s how you get a target market involved in your streams. So you want to focus on content that directly relates and and that makes that whole selling process a whole lot easier.
I will also offer another tip. Go behind the scenes, go to the factory, show people how it’s made. Be human, be relatable. And you obviously are showing your product or service in that process, so that’s a really easy sell at the end of the day.
Interacting with Your Audience
In order to interact with your audience, it’s truly about just having a conversation with them just like you would if somebody were standing in front of you. It’s asking them questions. Every time I do a show I have a “Question of the Day,” where I ask them a question and then I answer it in order to give them time to actually type the answer to that. And then they start answering it and I can repeat those answers and have these conversations with people. That’s one way to easily get engagement.
Where to Promote
Whatever social platforms you have, whether that’s Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, or whatever platforms you have, use it in the promotion. If you have a weekly show, you’re going to tell everybody everywhere that you have this weekly show and to join you on this day and time. You can create images that you put out on those social platforms that have the date and time and where to join you. You can do a random live video to talk about the fact that you’re going to be doing this live show. You can send an e-mail out. You can go on other people’s shows to talk about it. There are so many options for promotion, but you have to be willing to use all of those different platforms.
You want to be consistent about the messaging that you actually have available to you. Then you also want to encourage them to subscribe for notifications so that way people actually get notified each and every time you go live.
Longer Is Better
Live video is very different from recorded video or YouTube videos in the sense that longer is actually better. You hit your peak moment about 20 minutes in to your live stream. That means it takes people a while to come into the mix, to get those notifications, to stop doing what they’re doing in order to join your live show. If you do a live stream for two or three minutes, like you would a recorded video on YouTube, you’re going to get no engagement. People will think, “Oh, well, they’re just going live because that’s the thing to do.” They’re not going to engage with you, so the next time they see that notification, they’re not going to actually stick around or they’re not going to give up their time to be there while you’re live.
Production Values: Four Levels of Live Streaming
There are four levels of live streaming, and I think this is an important thing to understand. So first and foremost is the that I call “the selfie stream.” It’s going live from your phone, handheld, and nothing else. Level 2 is adding some gear to your phone, so a microphone, video stabilizer, lighting, but you still have that mobile capability.
Level 3 is going live from a desktop computer using a software like OBS or Wirecast. That allows you to do interviews, add in graphics, play videos that are prerecorded, and any of that kind of stuff. So every level 3 is a little tricky of a beast. You have to have a really powerful machine in order to do it well and because it’s using a computer that you use for a whole lot of other things, there’s high potential for things to fail. So if you’re not into technology and don’t do well with computers, I would not suggest level 3.
And then level 4 is what we do on our daily show, which is going live from a dedicated machine that’s built to do one thing and do it well, which is live streaming. So this is the same equipment that CNN and ABC use. However, it doesn’t come with the production dollar that traditional broadcasts do. It is a more expensive route, but that price has come down tremendously over the years.
Those are the four levels of live streaming. When you get to level 3 or 4, you can definitely have a really professional front that you’re putting out there. You can create graphics, you can brand your business, which is what I love about that. On level 2 you can still have professionalism, although you won’t have any kind of branding capability.
I think it’s really important on your weekly show that you present this professional front, because now that everybody is going to jump into live video in 2017, it’s important for you to set yourself apart from your competition. Most live streams look like crap if I’m being honest, so you want to you want to set yourself apart and be that professional person. And it really doesn’t take a whole lot of money to actually get a professional-looking set. So right here, you can see this is not a real brick background. This is a vinyl backdrop that I got off of Amazon for like 50 bucks. It doesn’t take a whole lot to set up a nice-looking set, and you don’t really need a whole lot of room for it either.
So, very simply, you can create something that looks professional. The lighting and audio are going to be the most important parts of that in order to step it up and set yourself apart.
Reach for the Stars
I think the biggest thing that I have done well as an entrepreneur is to reach for the stars. We are often so fearful of not being ready or not having a big enough name in our industry that we hold ourselves back. Over the 11 years that I’ve been doing all of this, every single time that I reach out to the person that I know is going to make a difference to my business or reach for a goal that I think I’m probably too early for, that I should probably wait, and I do it anyway—that has been what takes a business to the next level, that makes a difference. And so I would encourage you to not wait until you think you’re ready, because we’re never ready. That fear is just holding you back. And so reach for the stars. If you think that there’s somebody in your industry that if you were to connect with that it would make a difference, then find a way to get to them.