The Ultimate Guide to Livestreaming (Updated 12/09/2017)
Livestreaming has become, and is becoming, more and more popular across social media platforms.
Alongside Twitter's live streaming application Periscope, platforms like Facebook and lnstagram introduced live streaming late 2015 and 2016. Live streaming provides a unique and powerful way to connect with your audience on social media, taking the conversation beyond the Comment box and into a live engagement.
Those same platforms that are adopting livestreaming are pushing it heavily within their platforms because they understand that the value of what it brings to the tabIe.
Incorporating livestreaming into your digital strategy means more reach on your social media channels, higher returns on time invested, better audience insights, better notifications (ever notice whenever someone starts a livestream and you get a notification?) and happy engagement algorithms that prioritize your content over other pages in your audience's stream.
Livestreaming can be a great tool, but in many cases, we have found that it can also be a church/ministry/non-profit's worst enemy.
Livestreaming done poorly can hurt you more than it can help. Bad streams with no relevant content, no dialogue, and no structure can actually drop your engagement on social media platforms.
We have seen this to be the case first-hand many times. Keep in mind that you might not be able to apply every point in this manual - that's ok!
This is meant to be a comprehensive approach to guiding your livestreams and help you build up your digital strategy.
Pick and choose as needed to make your livestreams better -implement what you can do well and avoid the things you can't (for now).
If you're going through this and find questions or a gap in understanding that you want to learn more about, feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I love hearing from leaders from all different churches, ministries, and non-profits.
Don't have time to read everything right now?
No problem! I cover this and more in the download of my Ultimate (Unofficial) Guide to Livestreaming.
Click the button below to get it instantly!
Step 1: Establish a dialogue on your livestream right away
One of the biggest issues I see with churches, ministries and even non-profits doing livestream video is that they don't have a dialogue with the audience.
Many times a livestream will startup, I'II get notified, I'll hop on to see what is going on and sit through about 3 minutes of the livestream host fumble around with the settings, seeing the comments and establishing the conversation.
To clarify, having a dialogue doesn't mean that you get on a livestream and ask "How is everyone doing?" or field questions in an unstructured way from your audience: a dialogue is a structure and standard that you hold your engagement too.
Here are the key takeaways that you should have for establishing a dialogue and starting a conversation with your livestream audience:
- Have a schedule and stick to it: If you get on the Iivestream and there are only a handful of people on the stream, keep it moving. You can take small 10 -15 second breaks as needed, but make sure you're delivering the content, as scheduled, to the current audience. You are doing a disservice to the people who are actually interested, by making them wait for the engagement you promised.
- Structure questions and comments: During any formal presentation, there is a Q&A period where audience members are able to ask questions and the presenters can field them. Every livestream isn't going to be a formal presentation, but there is value in making sure that you have set times to answer questions and dialogue with the audience without breaking away from the objective of your livestream to do it. Again, this can be done informally, but don't get caught in the weeds of answering questions or reading every single comment that comes in.
- Keep your schedule flexible: If you get some great questions and it Ieads to a discussion that you can use to provide value for your audience, do it! There is nothing wrong with keeping a hot topic in conversation as long as it contributes to the livestream and doesn't detract from the primary focus of why you started this Iivestream to begin with. A good conversation can be a great way to keep your audience engaged and drive increased interaction.
Keeping a dialogue is very important; the conversations that you start during your livestream can lead into future content, topics and help shape your livestream strategy down the line. Leslie Samuel is an entrepreneur who runs BecomeABlogger.com and does an absolute fantastic job with this. The engagement and interaction he is able to maintain with his audience while starting off his streams is done really well. Below is an example of one of his livestreams - watch and take notes on how he establishes the dialogue at the beginning of the video and guides the experience with a purpose in mind! Check out the quality of his stream as well - really great stuff!
Step 2: Create compelling, engaging livestreams
On Facebook I am friends with a lot of church leaders and I follow a lot of ministries, and without fail, every Sunday when I get on Facebook I see a half dozen of church service streams.
And these aren't incredibly well shot or produced livestreams for the most part. In many cases they are shot on a smartphone in poor video quality, with poor audio quality, from the back of the church and go on for the whole 2-hour service.
Candidly speaking, I'm not interested in the content at all.
I will be the first person to advocate for putting church sermons on the web and I think that platforms like Facebook can be incredible opportunities to reach your church community (and nonchurch-goers too), but without adhering to some guidelines, you are wasting your efforts.
Time is valuable and if your content isn't compelling, I can spend it elsewhere.
Everyone's content is different, but here are some quick questions to consider when developing your next livestream content effort;
- Does the video look good? Smartphones can be great for livestreaming, so don't dismiss it. In this article, I discuss how to create a great looking video on a limited budget.
- How will the presenter engage with the audience?
- Can the livestream be repurposed as Evergreen content? In this article I discuss the value of creating Evergreen content and the 'how-to' of it all.
- Can they hear the presenter clearly?
- Is my community/audience familiar with the topic?
- How long will the livestream be?
Step 3: Livestream the right length at the right amount of time
I mentioned in the last post that on Sundays I am at home on Facebook for typically a couple of hours during the day. The reason being is that I don't work and I go to church on Shabbat (Saturday).
Using the same example from the previous point, it always crosses my mind as I'm seeing these livestreams populate my Facebook feed- "Do they know that their core audience is likely at their own local church right now?"
This isn't a problem that is exclusive to churches.
Ministries and non-profits have to consider when their target audience is avai I able during the day and what their sod al media habits, and entertainment habits, are like. 10:00 a.m. on a Tuesday morning might not make sense for so me and might make perfect sense for others.
Even if you plan on re-purposing the livestream as uploading it as its own video, the engagement and boost you will get from having a successful livestream will reflect positively in Facebook's (and lnstagram's) algorithm.
When you're scheduling your livestream, consider the following that could impact or siphon off your potential viewers;
- Major holidays and events
- Television debuts, season finales (TV shows, Spots, etc.)
- Community schedules (Bible studies, church attendance, etc.)
- Timezone considerations - this one could be huge
- Social media metrics (What do the analytics say?)
Another helpful tip is to establish a consistent time that your audience can expect content from you. A friend of mine, Colton Wayan, publishes a new video content piece every Monday on youtube which his audience expects.He has seen better view counts and audience responses since implementing his schedule.
You can check out his Good Men Brotherhood channel here.
Step 4: Evergreen content and the power of replay value
Livestreaming content is not only great for the now but also the after.
If you are creating great looking, compelling and engaging content on your livestreams, you can re-purpose those live moments into content that is great even after it's already been shown.
New audience members can find it valuable and even share it (even content that is weeks or months old!).
I go into the 4 ways to create great Evergreen livestreams in this article - check it out!
Step 5: Promote your livestream like an event
Your livestream is like a concert where everyone gets a front-row seat- treat it as such!
There is a novelty in doing a spontaneous livestream, or not planning it out like we've outlined above, but in most cases, you need to treat your livestream like a VIP event.
When your livestream has great content, a solid dialogue and is happening right when your audience is available, your goal is to get them in the 'door' so to speak.
Your livestream is valuable and they need to know that!
Here are 8 solid steps to get your mindset in the right place for treating your livestream like the most valuable conference on the web (or at least to your audience);
- Get a (relevant) guest speaker: If your audience isn't that interested in watching you, give them another reason to watch with a guest speaker. Guest speakers can bring a new dimension to your livestream as well as offering a ton of value for users watching. Keep in mind that your guest speaker will need to be relevant for your audience; your buddy who has no connection or expertise on the topic you're discussing won't make for a good guest speaker. A good question to ask is "What can my guest offer that I can't and how can I build on that?" Guest speakers can be brought in via webcam or be with you in person for the livestream session. I recommend research different technologies to help you facilitate your guest speaker livestreams. This can be a powerful way to get your audience's attention and bring them into your dialogue.
- Highlight your livestream's topics: If you have a guest speaker.great, but even if you don't, the topics discussed will be one of the powerful drivers for users to participate in your livestream. As an account administrator (and leader), you understand what your audience likes the most, dislikes the most, engages with and have a passion for. All things considered, you want to speak on topics that are going to draw them in - since you know what those topics are, showcase and promote them, listing the takeaways they will get from the livestream if they attend.
- Use Facebook's Audience Insights to get a better reach: This is a pretty intense topic and I cover it in more detail in my article - 12 steps to become a Facebook Power User. Check it out to learn about creating audiences that are a part of your social media community and how to target the right groups of people.
- Advertise and retarget your audience: Facebook allows you to do a lot of awesome things; one of the most powerful features of the Facebook and I Instagram platform is to retarget people who have already interacted with your page content or advertisements. If someone has seen or interacted with your content, you can show them your advertisement again to keep your event top of mind. Retargeting is a pretty comprehensive topic and I cover more in my article mentioned above - 12 steps to become a Facebook Power User.
- Start on time and end on time: I know I've already said th is before, but it's worth stressing further. All great events have set in stone start times and end times. Respect that and you will respect your audience!
One brand that I often follow is The Futur. They are a design and branding agency who has developed an excellent livestream strategy for engaging their audiences with great content. For a segment they did, they brought in special guest speaker Hugh Barton to speak on psychotherapy for creatives. The topic itself is relevant to their audience, but also ventures into new terroritory that they do not traditionally cover. Bringing in Hugh Barton as a guest speaker was great for their audience and also their content strategy.
Check out The Futur's livestream (now Evergreen) interview with Hugh Barton
Step 6: Create an irresistible offer for attendees
If someone is planning on joining your livestream it could be for a number of reasons.
The same is true if they don't plan on joining.
If you're having a hard time finding out why your livestreams aren't performing well or why your audience isn't as receptive as you'd like, create an offer that (in my godfather voice) they can't refuse!
The offer doesn't have to be a drawing or some sort of giveaway that they have to enter. An offer can come in a lot of different forms, for example you could offer attendees;
- Exclusive insider information related to the topic being discussed - "My experience working 10 years in church media ministry"
- A resource guide that they can access on the web or download - "Check out this guide on becoming a Facebook Power User"
- Curated lists for products, services, websites, etc (whatever makes sense) that your audience would find valuable - "Here are the top 10 sermons I listen to in preparation for a big event"
- A sneak peek that only livestream members will be able to see - "Check out this promo clip for our upcoming ministry media resource"
These are some suggestions, but really an offer can come in all shapes and sizes depending on your community and their needs and wants.
A record label that I love, Humble Beast, did something similar by offering livestream attendees an exclusive first listen to their artist Beautiful Eulogy's brand new album a day before it dropped. Fans of the group and the label had an irresistible offer and the label had an opportunity to drive more sales, streams and momentum around the release of the new album.
Check out the livestream (now Evergreen content) of Beautiful Eulogy's new album
Want to know how they got this quality? They used a Million Dollar Budget!
Step 7: Incentivize 'Reactions' and 'Shares'
When I'm talking about Reactions and Shares, what I really mean is engagement.
Reactions and Shares aren't the only way that you can see or measure engagement, but they are a good place to start.
Reactions and Shares help to get your livestream noticed to your audience's network. Every comment, smiling emoji and Share takes your livestream to your audience's timeline on Facebook where their friends and family can see what they are engaging in.
The 'Reactions' or hearts on your livestream also show your audience, and their network, the nature of the content without them even hearing the dialogue.
A stream of 'Angry' reactions might prompt someone to tune in to see what alI of the fuss is about (hopefully you are getting' Laughing' reactions though!).
Here are some easy to do, non-pushy ways that you can incentivize 'Reactions' and 'Shares':
- Perform a poll using 'Reactions' as a voting system: Th is is a great way to get an influx of engagement without having to ask for it specifically.
- Perform a poll using 'Comments' as a voting system: This is similar to the option above, but with the comment section. Depending on your audience, one or the other might work better.
- Ask questions and respond to comments off-cuff: Formal Q&As are important, but asking questions during a livestream and responding to 1 or 2 comments can serve as a way to get more people to comment and contribute to the conversation, even if it doesn't involve the moderator directly.
- Tell your audience "Tag someone who might love this": This is a straightforward request, but there is nothing wrong with it if you are offering valuable information that your community loves. They trust you and you can ask them to share it with 1 person who would find it interesting.
- Tell your audience" If you are enjoying the content, be sure to Share it!": Again, a straightforward request that no one will have a problem with (as long as they love your content).A rule of thumb though - don't make this request more than 2 times during a livestream that is 10 minutes or less.
Step 8: Step up your livestream quality
Your smartphone camera and microphone won't cut it in most cases. Sometimes it might, but I recommend checking out some simple equipment you can buy to really elevate your livestream experience. I cover this in more detail in my blog titled" Million Dollar Livestream on a Budget"
Check it out to see how we do our Livestream sessions and put our content in the hands of the right people.
Step 9: Start a livestream event series
Setting up a livestream event series (or web series rather) is a great way to engage your audience in relevant topics and buiId on past Iivestreams.
Like I mentioned above in the evergreen content piece, not all content can last forever; web series allows you to revisit or build on topics that were already popular and provide a fresh take on new information.
Great examples of this are often seen on, what I call, talking head livestreams that happen once a week.
Each week there will be a set time and set length for their livestream and they will duplicate the format from week to week while changing out key discussion areas.
The focus, format and the goals of the livestream don't change, only the content.
This approach requires a significant time investment and understanding of your audience.
I'm including it because I want to give you an idea of what this could look like, but if you don't have the bandwidth to do it correctly and consistently, I would defer to some of the other points in this manual to optimize your livestreaming.
Step 10: Have a content strategy in place
There is a ton of great information in this manual, but there is something that I need to make abundantly clear - livestreaming should be apart of your digital strategy, not your complete digital strategy.
Even if you follow every rule in this manual, you will fall short if you don't have a solid foundation to build your livestreaming, and other social media efforts, on top of.
So many times in churches, ministries and non-profits, the basics of digital strategy are entirely missing.
Without those basics, you will fall short of your goals and not even know why.
Digital Pew was our solution to this problem that we see so often.
Here are some of the basics that you shouId have to make sure that you are maximizing all of your efforts, livestreaming or not;
- Audience: Do you know exactly who you are trying to reach and target with your efforts? Do you know their favorite places to eat, hobbies, TV shows, preachers, etc.? There is a level of detail that you need to have in order to understand your audience and build that relationship. If you don't know anything about who you're talking to, how will you know what to talk to them about?
- Analytics: Do you know what pieces of content on your social media channels perform the best? Or even what social media channels perform the best overall? Which ones have the highest engagement or least engagement? Having accurate, informed analytics allows you to make confident choices in your marketing efforts. Your decisions should be based on actual evidence and not just 'gut feelings'.
- Goals: What are you looking to accomplish with everything that you are doing? Consider your monthly, quarterly and annual goals for your efforts. What is the baseline for your efforts? How do we quantify success? What are the KPls (key performance indicators) driving your decision making? Knowing where you need to go is important in starting the journey.
- Strategic Partners: In many cases, you likely can't do this alone. I try to avoid the hard sell, but a genuine question you should ask yourself while investing time, money and resources into your efforts is; Who are you looking to as a strategic partner for your digital strategy efforts or overall strategy? Digital Pew might be a good fit for you, or we might not, but in either case you should partner with experts who can help guide your mission according to your goals
What are you doing for your digital strategy?
That is the true question. Like anything from SEO to social media marketing, livestreaming is a means to an end - you want your content in front of your audience.
As you begin leveraging all of the tools at your disposal, start laying the foundation for what an overall strategy could look like.
If you ever get stuck, that is where we come in. We have been helping churches and non-profits with their digital marketing strategies for years. We understand the nuances of reaching out to members, influencers and decision makers - those conversations and relationships are not transnational and should be meaningful.
If you need that outside perspective, or a team to come in and help you lay out a path to success, schedule a call with me and we can discuss what makes sense for you.
Our customers have all seen incredible success and delivering that is what we thrive on!
What is the most valuable step in here (for you)?
Let me know on Twitter at @thedigitalpew