You are better off recording and sharing videos on-demand than streaming live without interacting with your audience.
One thing that makes live streaming cool is the ability to interact with the audience in real-time. Without interactions, it’s no better than passive consumption of content, which actually is a norm in video-on-demand (VOD) streaming. Today, live streaming is all about engagement with the target audience. The more you interact, the better you can engage your audience and leave a noteworthy impact.
Whether you are a professional streamer or a brand that uses real-time streaming for marketing, you need an interactive live stream. You can start with allowing your audience to participate in your streams using actions such as Likes, Shares, and Live Chats.
Besides, you can’t conduct an interactive live stream unless you impart a feeling of being reflected as someone important in the audience. So, how do you do that? For starters, read live chats and respond to the questions asked. It’s all about establishing a two-way communication channel.
What makes interactive live streams so important?
The days of passive content consumption are over. Today, viewers like active participation in your content, and this idea, in fact, is a golden opportunity for the brands to arrive a step closer to the target audience. By the means of real-time feedback collection, brands can set a powerful image amongst their consumers.
The interactions make streams engaging, while they also increase the overall penetration of the brand and boost the target audience size. It’s nothing but a traditional way, which now has a modern medium to instill leadership and brand loyalty. People can see the faces behind a brand, and when those faces make human-to-human connections, wonders happen.
Another important aspect of an interactive live stream is that it lets the audience control the content through active participation. People join live streams for entertainment or to learn something. The deployment of interactive features like live polls, quizzes, live chat, etc. enables them to receive live content the way they want. These activities make them more likely to remember the messages you have been trying to communicate via your live streams.
Once they are hooked-up, viewers are more likely to come back in future sessions, too. Since it’s real-time in nature, the fear of missing out is yet another factor that encourages viewers to join your streams.
How to engage your viewers in interactive live streams?
Let’s address the elephant in the room now- how to make a good live stream with all these aspects taken into account?
There could be several ways to make your streams interactive and engaging, most of which also depend on the features provided by different live streaming video platforms. However, there are many strategies that you can apply in all kinds of live streams, irrespective of the platform you are using.
1. Announce in Advance
Live streams serve content in real-time. You don’t want your viewers to miss a moment of it. That’s why it’s important to pre-promote the time and platform of your stream to gain maximum viewership. There are a few ways to pre-promote a live stream:
- You can announce the schedule of your next stream before ending your current stream.
- If you have an email list, you can shoot mass emails with a link and schedule of the stream.
- You can announce on different social media platforms.
It’s always a best practice to give out a brief of your agenda for your upcoming streams beforehand. Let the viewers know what to expect from a live stream.
2. Get your viewers on the same page as you
So much real-time information in a live stream can overwhelm your audience and they might lose the interest. To prevent any such fatigue, you should make it a practice to give out a precap of key points of the content at the beginning of the stream.
Many live stream platforms or streaming tools (like OBS) allow streamers to add small introduction clips before the live stream begins. You could use the feature to give a quick precap of the agenda in the introduction itself.
- You can show presentation-like slides
- Or you can add a small explainer clip
In short, offering your viewers a quick precap will get them on the same page as you before the stream begins, and it will prevent information fatigue, too. Just yet another way to let the viewers come all prepared with their questions and prerequisites.
Make sure you don’t overdo it. Keep it as small as possible.
3. Fun is a kind of interactive, too
Fun is a universal tool to attract traction and engagement. Nobody likes boring live streams, even if it’s informative. You don’t have to be a comic performer, but you can still keep things on the lighter node and take simple steps to make streaming rather fun.
For example, you can tease a giveaway quiz that you would be conducting at the end of your stream. Tell them to stick around as the questions will be from the points discussed in the stream itself. In this way, you can get your viewers to stick around till the end while also being excited for the giveaway contest. You can use many such methods to motivate your viewers.
4. Encourage them to share
Word of mouth is the best way to gain massive viewership in a short period. However, word of mouth works a little differently for live streams. Apart from talking about your stream, you need your viewers to also share it within their circles; giveaways and contests play a critical role in the same.
You can launch giveaway contests and layout certain rules for participation that boost sharing:
- Share your live streaming link (e.g. subscribe and share your YouTube channel or Facebook page)
- Share and follow your social media handles.
Let’s say, if 1000 of your viewers perform the above actions as an entry in the contest, you get thousands of more followers overnight. You can also tell the participants that if you gain 30k viewers on your stream within 20 minutes, you would conduct a special giveaway of a $50 Amazon gift card to 10 lucky viewers who have shared the stream.
5. Offer visual engagement
You cannot re-take or edit in a live stream. Hence it could easily go dull and monotonous. To prevent such dullness and keep your audience focussed for an hour or half, you have to make the best use of all the resources and tools accessible to you.
You can add transitions and different camera angles. Use attractive but clean overlays for showing up different information and notifications of events. For example, live poll status, live contest results, viewers count, donation notifications, etc.
In short, you have to compensate for the lack of editing with real-time visuals that trigger excitement and curiosity. If your live video streaming platform allows, you can use many other visual tools to trigger engagement. For example:
- Picture-in-picture perspective so users can also do other tasks while following the stream.
- Multiple video sources to share the screen with other streamers and collaborators.
A large portion of engagement can be acquired through small visual cues. If you plan these things in advance, you can achieve an effortless visual enhancement in your live streams, too.
6. Make the best out of live chats
Live chat acts as the primary point of communication between you and your audience during an active session. No matter which platform you are using, you can always find live chats that run in real-time on your screen. I suggest you build a multi-screen set up where you can manage your stream on one while dedicating an entire screen for reading live chats.
7. Call out their names to give a personal touch
As a host, you should encourage your audience to use the live chatting feature. Ease them into asking questions or simply commenting on stuff. Call out the names of users with questions they ask. This would make them feel connected and noticed.
You can dedicate a few minutes before or during the actual session in the stream for reading out live chats, calling out usernames, greeting the users, and answering general queries.
8. Ask questions that lead to quick replies
One great way to indulge your audience in communication is by asking questions that lead to quick replies –mostly in the form of yes or no. For example, you can ask ‘did you enjoy the last stream?’, ‘is the audio clear?’ ‘people joining me from Atlanta say yes’ etc.
These questions might be too simple and rhetorical, but they also help you to analyze the mood of the audience. Their tone of replies or the number of responses you get can give you a quick understanding of the level of engagement without forcing anything on them.
9. Answer their questions via Q&A sessions
You can also dedicate an entire stream or a portion of the stream for QNA, where you can encourage users to ask their questions. These sessions should focus on the topic in discussion, while it won’t hurt to answer general questions, if asked.
10. Conduct live polls to assess your audience
Live polls can prove to be an ultimate tool to boost engagement with active interactions. Polls are easy to participate in and they help you to understand your audience’s views of something. Besides, they make the audience feel important when you give them a feeling that their opinions matter.
Not just engagement, but you can use the polls to conduct voting on important stuff such as trending topics, or a crucial decision you are going to take for your brand. For example, you can also vote on a decision to choose between two new brand logos you have been considering.
In short, if they feel that their opinions matter, they connect even better with not just your streams but also to your brand as a whole.
Finally, be regular
If your goal is to conduct regular live streams, avoid being random with your streaming schedule. Pick a time of the day or week, and stick to it. Use your social media handles or forums (if present) to announce a change of plans in advance. Regularity is the key to success in live streaming. Whether you are a professional streamer or running promotions for your brand, sticking to a schedule helps you to maintain a consistent viewership in the long run. Keep the interaction going. All the best.
A marketing consultant at StreamHash, a company that provides the one-stop solution for live streaming business. I am expertise in strategies to engage customers and improve business opportunities. Interested in marketing communications and like to keep abreast of new trends and development.