There is something about live streaming or live video that a recording posted after the fact never can reproduce. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that unexpected events can occur that cannot be edited out. But I think that producing valuable live streamed content is about more than giving people watching the hope that they can see a train wreck happening once in a while however fascinating that might be. Indeed, in a business context, if used right, I strongly believe that live streaming represents a great opportunity for both marketing and sales.
While I have experimented some myself as a live streamer, I have also learned about what seems to resonate with people by being a lurker on other people's live streams. I also very much enjoyed attending the recent Summit.Live LA to network with (see pics of terrific people below!) and listen to prominent live streamers and get a sense of what is going on in that growing community. In this post, I will outline some success factors for producing live stream content that your followers will appreciate and be likely to share with their followers.
Whatever personality you have, you have to work a little bit harder to truly show up and make you and your personality noticeable via live video. No, not everyone can be as passionate like a Gary Vaynerchuk but still. If you really focus, you actually can be a little bit “more you” than your “regular you” to allow for your personality to shine. Gary Vaynerchuk shows up in a passionate manner for every episode of his popular #AskGaryVee Show and while his show is posted on Facebook and on YouTube after the fact, it is also being live streamed via Periscope as it happens. That is, there are no second takes or much editing involved except for the preroll intro that the eminent “Team Gary” adds to the recorded version. See the following clip for the #AskGaryVee Show Episode #222 in which I was honored to be featured during my “reverse internship” for Vayner Media.
Part of the appeal with live streaming is the sensation you can feel by being present with someone else in the same, albeit virtual, room at the point of time. For example, an influential person running and hosting a live webinar has to take that same time off everything else exciting they may have going on in their lives and instead spend it with you. You become equals of sorts. At least for a small amount of time here or there. Someone who always shows up with a full focus on the guests and the live stream is my friend Mitch Jackson and his cohost Jen Hoverstad of excellent weekly show TheShow.live. When I had the pleasure of being interviewed there, Jen was having a great substitute host as well, Nick Rishwain and you can see this episode below:
Try to have at least one key message in each broadcast that delivers something of value to your followers. Perhaps you can outline some key talking points about what you would like to share during a particular session? Having a purpose is also about caring about the connection you can make with viewers and perhaps your key purpose is simply to listen intently to their concerns and offer some emphatic response to show that you care. The key is that your purpose should be aligned with what your followers value and that you are generous with what you offer them whether it'll be in the form of say educational, inspirational, or entertaining content.
Eventually, if you are considering doing live streaming as part of your business and not merely as a hobby, you need to consider how your live streaming activities fit into your overall business model. If you cannot connect live streaming to some revenue-generating outcomes, you likely will not persist. In this regard, live streaming can help generate revenue in two major ways. First, your live stream could be a way for first-time visitors to your world to get to know you in an expedited manner as they actually get to “meet” you at least online. Obviously, you need to find a way to bring your live stream to their attention either by advertising it or having your followers share it with their connections. Second, you could also live stream to strengthen customer satisfaction and loyalty amongst your existing customers which could make them buy again and perhaps buy more as well. What most seem to do in terms of live streams and monetization is to encourage their viewers to sign up for their email list so that they can deliver valuable content to them until they are ready to buy something from you. Most would be hesitant to buy and marketers nervous to try to sell on the first encounter.
Still, in some cases, the live stream encounter becomes so powerful that it even can result in immediate profitable outcomes even from first-time visitors during the broadcast such as via a live webinar. A webinar is typically is designed to deliver 60 minutes of valuable content which then turns into a pitch for something that you have to offer to those who are likely interested in you and your offerings if they are still on the line. Increasingly, live stream platforms are also embedding payment mechanisms in various formats to accommodate those who would like to be able to sell something during their live streams. For example, a “hot” platform at Summit.live was one of the sponsors, Busker [update: no longer in business]. Busker allows fans to either send hearts or tips to creatives that they enjoy such as musicians. YouTube live also allows for so-called Super Chat by which fans can pay say $5 to have their comment prominently displayed at the top of sometimes noisy comment fields.
I noticed the need to be patient myself as I ran a Facebook Live stream (see below) during a walk in LA between two sponsored evening meetups. It took a while to get just a few viewers but you also need to keep in mind that you can choose to post the video after the fact as well and once I did so, that video got a thousand views in short order. That is, don't hang up just because you don't have any viewers or perhaps only have a couple of viewers in the beginning of your broadcast. Some make the mistake of quitting too soon or launch into a planned monologue which gets lost in a virtual black hole. It may take some time before people find your broadcast and Facebook Live now sends a message to the broadcaster to hold tight while they are spreading the word about your live stream to build an audience. So what you can do is to welcome the few early birds and chat with them casually about where they are from, how their day is going and do some small talk just as you would if you greet early arrivals to your talk at a conference.
To avoid the problem with empty virtual rooms, you would be well-advised to preschedule your broadcasts and make it an event that you promote via social media, email, etc. If you get people to add the meeting to their calendars, even better and you could also send them email reminders as the event gets closer. Some do a regular broadcast say weekly on the same day at the same time to also establish a routine so people may start getting used to looking out for you at that time even without a reminder or calendar appointment so that is maybe something that you would like to try.
Whereas patience above was about being patient within a specific broadcast, here I use the word persistence to capture the essence of not expecting immediate results from just a few episodes of live videos. With a long-term, consistent output of quality live streams, you will gradually begin to grow your audience one person at a time. It is true that many will never become widely known or ever achieve virality in any major way. Still, you may begin to build a close-knit community of people who truly resonate with you and like Kevin Kelly wrote, you “only” need 1,000 true fans to have a career so go get it! Ok, while that number sounds more attainable than a mainstream breakthrough, it should be pointed out that Kevin Kelly argues that earning 1,000 true fans still is a matter of hard work and persistence but by being generous and persistent, you too can earn those followers over time! P.S. If you would like me to live stream more, perhaps via the Professor.live domain that I bought, please sign up below 🙂