Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
We chatted with Ksenia Savchenko, Community Manager at VistaCreate, for her expertise on social media livestreams. Read on for Ksenia’s tips and learn how to get the most out of your next stream on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and more.
Video is one of the best ways to capture your audience’s attention on any social platform -and livestreaming is a great way to improve social media engagement and build a connection with your followers. If you’re not familiar with ‘going live’, don’t worry. It requires almost no technical expertise -just a little planning (perfect for budget-conscious small business owners!). You don’t have to do any pre-filming or video editing…all you need is an internet connection and a computer or mobile device.
According to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, the ability to broadcast live content anywhere you go is akin to “having a TV camera in your pocket.” For small businesses, livestreaming on social media is also an opportunity to connect with customers, guests and clients on a more intimate level. Whether you use it to capture an exciting event, host a Q+A or to take your followers behind the scenes at your business, a livestream can inform, entertain and build excitement, making it a valuable addition to your social media marketing plan. “Human-to-human interactions are a new luxury in the digital world,” Ksenia adds. “Live broadcasting creates an extension of human touch, showing who’s truly behind the brand’s business.”
Here are a few strategies to create a live feed that will excite current followers and attract new ones:
- Consider what your customers want to see.
- Decide which platform is best for your business.
- Give your followers a heads-up.
- Engage with your viewers.
- Include a call to action.
- Don’t forget to follow up.
1. Consider what your customers want to see.
Before you create your first live broadcast, you’ve got to decide what kind of content to share. Start by thinking about what your followers are most interested in. Do you get a lot of inquiries about how to use your products? Consider using one of your social platforms to host a live tutorial or demonstration. Have customers been patient while you’ve remodeled your storefront? Give them a sneak peek of the final reveal. Do you have multiple Facebook reviews praising a certain employee? Host a live Q+A with them to help build trust in your brand.
Ksenia says to keep in mind that when it comes to livestreaming on social media, there’s no particular winning format. “As a small business, you have the luxury to test hypotheses and different approaches. One day it could be sharing valuable industry insights; another maybe sharing behind-the-scenes of your business; the next, a product demo. Find not only what’s relevant but also appealing to your audience, and have some fun doing it as well.” If you’re just starting to experiment with livestreaming for your business, Ksenia recommends inviting a guest speaker to join you. “It doesn’t necessarily have to be an influencer with a million followers, it can be a local opinion leader. It will help make your live event more interesting and get the word out.”
Still not sure what to post? Poll your followers on what they’d like to see. The better you are at satisfying their interests and needs, the more likely they’ll be to watch -and share -your live feed.
2. Decide which platform is best for your business.
There are a number of social platforms that currently offer livestreaming -Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube and TikTok are some popular options. Ksenia advises choosing a platform based on where your audience spends the most time. “You have to have a good sense of where they’d be most comfortable watching and participating in a livestream. If you know your clients are loyal to particular social platforms and these platforms could work as your core community gathering hub, then go for it. Launch test lives, watch results and decide where to take it based on that performance.”
3. Give your followers a heads-up.
Once you have a plan in place for your live video, it’s time to prepare. “The live event itself is important, but even more vital is the preparation,” Ksenia says. She adds that this is the most time-consuming part of going live, but promises it’ll be rewarding when people start joining your stream. “Collecting leads and creating buzz beforehand is a separate job to be done -it’s best to add a marketing approach here. Seeding in relevant communities will help attract new people; sending a newsletter will keep them in the loop; and posting on social media will remind them to add the live event to their calendars.”
“You shouldn’t expect that everything will happen by magic,” Ksenia adds. So, prioritize promoting your next livestream anywhere you can, and make your followers aware of upcoming videos with plenty of reminders. Ask customers to send in questions ahead of time, then create a Facebook event, collect RSVPs and entice followers with an incentive for joining your livestream.
Create social posts to remind your followers of your upcoming livestream with VistaCreate. Browse thousands of templates, then easily customize with your branding and event information.
4. Engage with your viewers.
Once you’re ready to go live, remember to interact with your audience throughout your broadcast. Ask your audience to ask or answer a question, or leave a comment, and reference this feedback while you’re streaming. Ksenia recommends choosing to address topics that are relevant to the most people, and suggests that you pause and check in with your viewers every 5-7 minutes to make sure you’re tackling subjects that are new and interesting to them. If you can, ask a friend or employee to read audience questions and respond to comments so you can focus on hosting.
These tactics can keep your audience interested and engaged; they also make your broadcast feel more personal. While you’re live, you’ll be able to see the likes and emojis that your viewers select to reflect how they’re feeling about your video. Use this information to gauge the effectiveness of your approach, and adjust accordingly on the spot –according to Time, a little spontaneity can go a long way in making videos go viral.
Video length also plays a role in engagement. “The minimum length of a live event should be around 10 minutes,” Ksenia says. “For a company or product Q&A I’d start with 30 minutes, just to check your audience engagement.” And if you decide to invite an expert, push your event a little longer -maybe an hour -so everyone can get as much information as possible without getting tired.” You can also offer a special discount at the end of your livestream to encourage viewers to stick around.
Not sure when to go live? Ksenia suggests checking out data on your social pages to find the day and time with the highest page views -aim to go live then. You could also run a poll to see what day and time your audience is most likely to watch.
5. Include a call to action.
Creating a live feed is about more than just streaming great content, and one surefire way to expand your reach online is by incorporating a clear call to action. Let your viewers know they can subscribe to your live feed to get notifications about future live events; encourage them to share your broadcast with friends to build viewership; invite them to join your email list for exclusive discounts; or link to your website or storefront to convert them to customers.
6. Don’t forget to follow up.
Your marketing plan shouldn’t end when your livestream does. Send thank-you emails to the audience who attended your livestream, and follow up with people who weren’t able to join. Reach out to anyone who missed out on your livestream with a recording of the session -you can save the video to any of your social channels, and start building a video library of tutorials, Q+A sessions and more. These gestures are a great way to add a personal touch to a virtual event, and can also be helpful in collecting feedback.