Episode 54 – Live video tips for better engagement and more confidence
Jennifer is the Social Media Manager for Agorapulse, a podcaster and speaker. She has a diverse background from working on camera to executing digital strategies. Jennifer is a dynamic talent with a passion for every aspect of digital media from building brand strategies, creating content plans, to getting executive buy-in. She motivates audiences from the stage and drives engagement, including launching numerous Facebook Live campaigns for the biggest weather brand, garnering millions of views. She has been featured in Chief Content Marketer Magazine, and on stage at Social Fresh, Social Media Marketing World, Social Shake-Up to name a few.
Jennifer’s One Hot Thing…
- How to gain the confidence to rock your live video
Connect with Jennifer
My one hot thing is just how to rock your video life. I think people get intimidated by live video. They’re just not sure how to approach it or what they should do and that paralyzes them so they just don’t do it. What they don’t know, is that the people that do live video have the same fears as them. They just go for it.
Live video doesn’t need to be perfect
I am a meteorologist by trade. I got a master’s degree in geosciences with an emphasis in meteorology. I was on camera for five years. After that I started working at the Weather Channel as one of their social media specialists. When I was there, we partnered with Facebook for a year, we also did a lot of Periscopes and Meerkat. We did so much live video out in the field. And then we also did live video in the studio. I’d say we did approximately 1500-2000 or more live videos.
And so, I totally get when you’re live, you’re live. Anything can happen, and it has happened.
If you wait for perfection with live video, it’s never going to happen. Technology will always throw a spanner in the works. And I have some good tips from my experience of working in the TV industry, as well as the social media industry. I’ve done live video on TV and also on social media. Once you start doing live video you will learn a lot. It won’t always be perfect every time, but that’s okay. It’s kind of fun. I love live video just for the way it allows you to connect to people around the world and have a two-way conversation. It’s not just doing a video, recording a video, and putting it on a social channel. It’s actually, you’re able to talk and reach people all around the globe, which is so amazing and incredible.
Where should you start with live video?
For me, I think you really need to understand your fan base. Brian Fanzo always says go live or concentrate on the social channel where you feel most comfortable. Though, some other people say focus on where your audience is. I would say go for where your audience is, but also hopefully that’s where you feel comfortable as well. Try that one out first. I have a lot of experience in Facebook Live. I feel like there’s more value in Facebook Live than sometimes Periscope. It’s the one that I love the most.
I think what you need to do is come up with a plan. People love consistency, they love patterns. And so, I think creating weekly content, or having a weekly show, will help people be like, “Okay, I know on Wednesdays at two o’clock, Natalie’s going to be live every single day, or every week.” And they look forward to it. You kind of train them to actually go watch the live.
If you are a company that sells a service or a product, then you can go live and talk about that too. I would try to create a strategy of why you would want to go live, and the topics to go live. My tip is always, if you can’t go live for more than five minutes then you probably shouldn’t go live and you should make it a video. Because the whole point of live video is making it long enough so people can join in and join the conversation.
How long should a live video be?
Is there such a thing as a live video being too long? The short answer is no. As long as the content is exciting content. When you’re doing live video, you can actually see how many people are currently watching. You can see the number go up, or maybe down and you can make it more exciting if you need to. As long as you can have the content you can go live.
Don’t say how long you are going to be in case you finish early and have to stretch the content out. But somewhere between 10 and 20 minutes should be good. When you go live a lot of people can’t join right away, or maybe aren’t on their mobile device or computer and don’t see it right away, but allows people to join you, start the conversation flow, and it can be a lot of fun. I would say go about 10 to 20 minutes, but go as long as you have good content. Don’t try and stretch it out just for the sake of it.
How important is it to engage with the comments you get on live videos?
I would say it’s very important. I work for Agorapulse right now, and we have a weekly live show. What I try to do at the beginning of the show is to ask people who they are, where they are from, what they do and how their week has been. I try to keep them engaged, but I try to always recognize the audience at the beginning. And so, give shout outs because everyone loves to have their name heard.
I have an interview, a weekly live show. After each question that my guest answers, I always look at the comments and read them out, so that I’m constantly engaged. Basically, every couple minutes, I’m monitoring the comments and giving shout outs because that makes it more conversational. There are some times where the content doesn’t allow you to be as conversational, but the whole point of live video is to be able to have that two-way conversation. That’s what makes it so magical compared to just posting an image, or making a video and putting it online, because that two-way conversation is priceless. It builds that trust that people are looking for. Also, it can help build community, as well.
People relate to real videos
People like the fact that anything can happen on live video. It’s part of the appeal, for the audience at least.
In the past, I’ve done very polished videos. And then, I’ve done others in a field where the wind is blowing and it’s crazy and raw and people love the real and raw over the polished. They don’t want to just see you on TV on a social channel. They love the rawness of it. They want the behind the scenes, the real people. That’s what people are craving nowadays. Those videos that I’ve done in the past, always raw and real, outperform something overly polished.
You’ll see a lot of people that’ll do a live video without wearing makeup. I’m not that brave yet, but you’re just like, “Holy…” They’re just being free and awesome and I love that. People really relate to raw and real. The more real you are, the more relatable you are.
What preparation do you need to do for live video?
Sometimes the preparation alone can be enough to put you off doing videos in the first place. The fact that you don’t really need to worry about all of that for live video is what makes it so fantastic.
Back in the day, the point of Periscope live was to be able to bring other people to a new place, or to a place where they couldn’t be. I think that’s what makes live videos so unique.The lighting might not be perfect, but it’s better to go live than just to not go live.
But I have learned through my live video how important lighting and audio is. Especially audio. If your audio is crackly, or just you’re struggling so hard to understand it, people will just tune out. And it is really quick and easy to check your lighting. What I usually do before a live broadcast, especially if I’m walking around, is test the internet signal and lighting in all the places I’m going to be and then double check the audio. With audio an iphone is often better than a lot of the mics you get. You don’t need a fancy equipment.
To get started you really need a grip to hold your phone instead of just having it in your arms.
I love iOgrapher. They have cases, and then you hold the grip and it’s more steady so you are not shaking. And maybe a small tripod to put on your desk. Those are the two basic things you need to go live. But you don’t even really need that. Plus, if you’ve got dim lighting you can get a mini ring light too.
How do you actually record a live video?
It’s usually fairly straightforward. You can go live from Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn. If you want a professional looking live broadcast stream then there’s E-CAM, there’s B-Live, there’s StreamYard.
We recently switched to StreamYard for ours. I love StreamYard. It is amazing. It lets you have lower thirds where you can have people’s name and title. It’s very clean. You can pop people’s comments. You see the live comments coming in from all the social channels from wherever you’re streaming, and you can instantly pop them on camera so people can see it. You can do a more polished live broadcast, and across multiple channels at the same time, which is also beneficial as well. That’s what we do at Agorapulse. But then, you can also, if you’re walking around or out and about and you see something really cool and you want to talk about it, you can go live instantly from your phone too.
Any confidence tips for people getting started?
The best thing you can do is just to practice. Just actually click the record button and record yourself, pretending you’re live and watching it and critiquing yourself. One tip that Brian Fanzo actually recommends, which I love, is to start doing Instagram stories, or Facebook stories. Because you’re not live, but you’re going to build that confidence and you’re going to see what people like and don’t like based on how they engage in your stories. You can always rerecord it, but start doing stories. Sean Cannell, who’s a big YouTube expert, had one of his coworkers do stories to build confidence. She did that for a year, and then when it was time to go live, she was confident and wasn’t really stressed at all.
Just practice. Everyone had nerves. But just be calm and be yourself. Everyone wants you just to be yourself. And have fun. Let your true self shine, not try to be anyone else.
Do you think Facebook Live gets good engagement?
I’m glad that you mentioned that. People have seen the engagement go down a little bit in live video. If you do it right, live video is still a thing. It’s still hot and something that you should be doing. At least testing out and seeing if your audience is really going to engage.
One thing that one of my really good friends, Jenn Herman (Jenn’s Trends) recommends is doing something for four to six weeks before actually knowing if it’s working or not. Because it takes that amount of time for people to learn that you are going live. Take a while to train people to know that you are going to be there.
I do think live video is such a powerful tool in learning your audience, and building that rapport, the community, and creating super fans. It’s just such an amazing way to build that strong connection with your fans.
Are there any particular topics that work for live video?
There are so many things that can work incredibly well on live video.
I really like how-to videos, which you have mentioned before. Also, ask me anything, product releases, product demos all work really well. People don’t have a lot of time, and when they buy something new they don’t understand the full capacity of it. Demos can help overcome this and make them more likely to buy more products from you.
Highlighting communities is also a great thing to do videos on. There’s a company in Wichita, Kansas, in the United States. They do a live show every Friday that’s not about them at all, but highlighting a company or a person in their city, in their community, that’s doing something good. You can do something a bit like that that helps build community.
You can do behind the scenes, making of your product or other things. One good company that does things really unique is We Are Cisco. You can search that on the social channels. They allow their employees to go live on their social channels and talk. One week it might be an engineer that goes live, talks about being an engineer at Cisco security. It’s really neat.
You could do influencer takeovers, like micro influencers, a weekly show.
You might think that live video is a big undertaking, but there are so many cool ways you can up-cycle your content. You can actually download your live video, edit that into snackable chunks of fun videos that you can post on all your social channels. You can create audio grams. Quote cards. You can actually turn your live video into a podcast. If you’re not streaming everywhere at the same time, you could upload that live video to YouTube, as well. There is just so much mileage you can get from live videos.