What We Learned: Our First Live Stream

This week FiComm Partners hosted our first-ever social media live stream event with our favorite podcast hosts, Meg and Candice. They sat down to discuss the key learnings, growing pains, and milestones they’ve experienced while producing our podcast, The New Skool. I joined them in our West Coast office to produce the live stream and while they chatted about our fantastic podcast guests in front of cameras broadcasting our content to the social media universe, I thought about how we can improve our live stream experience next time around. The irony of already planning for the next while the first event is still live isn’t lost on me. Clients, team members, friends, and family alike will agree that this is typical behavior for me and for every FiComm team member, we’re always looking for ways to optimize and thinking about what’s next. 

Here’s a peek into what we learned and what changes we plan to make before the next time we tap the “go live” button. 

Planning.

With nearly every marketing tactic, planning and preparation is crucial in ensuring your efforts are a success. Live streaming is no different; there are several best practices to keep in mind as you plan your live streaming debut. We quickly discovered that the planning phase might just be the most important.

  • WiFi can be our best friend OR, sometimes our biggest enemy! To go live, you need to have a strong internet connection. Planning to check your WiFi connection and speed before the event is key and always have a backup plan. Hard-wire or ethernet internet access tends to work best, but if you’re relying on WiFi, you’ll want a 4G connection. If you have a weak signal, the Go Live button will be grayed out. To check your internet speed ahead of time, download the Speedtest app from the App Store or Google Play. Our backup plan was to jump to a cell phone hot spot if our WiFi cut out – which, of course, happened. Newton’s Law tends to show up at the worst times, doesn’t it? 
  • Plan your time. The longer your broadcast is, the more likely people are to discover you and invite their friends to watch the video. We kept our live stream to under 40 minutes, but we plan to test and learn with longer and shorter formats in the future. 
  • Optimize by location. We were thoughtful in selecting a time that works for most time zones. Digging into your social media insights will help you determine this in advance.
  • Shhh. Background noise can negatively impact live video. We kept this in mind as we selected our location. We utilized a microphone to ensure the live stream guests could hear our conversation and added additional padding to our recording room to limit echo. 
  • Look behind you. To ensure our background was clear of distractions and visually appealing, we moved some office furniture around and brought in smaller chairs so our hosts could comfortably fit in the shot. Always scan your background ahead of time to make sure there are no visible distractions or off-brand aesthetics.
  • Do a dry run. We practiced the live stream’s content but did not actually do a live test, which caused a few hiccups for us. We recommend testing your live stream connections before the main event. 
  • Keep it real. Rehearse, but it doesn’t have to be perfect. Viewers expect live streams to have an air of authenticity and not be too rehearsed. We created an outline for our content but didn’t script out the conversation so guests could feel like they were sitting in the same room as Meg and Candice, listening to them chat!
  • Check your access. We thought we had secured access to LinkedIn live streaming, but we got a rejection notice when we attempted to stream. Always double-check that each network is connected and approved for streaming.
  • Q&A. Decide ahead of time whether you’re going to take questions or reply to comments. If you plan to take comments or questions, you will only have a couple of seconds to come up with an answer. We recommend brainstorming possible questions beforehand to have answers in mind when you’re on the air.

Promotion.

Your followers will receive a notification when you start your broadcast, but a little prepromotion doesn’t hurt. Here are some tips to get your audience amped for your live stream.

  • Summarize. Write a compelling description before going live so that people understand what your broadcast is about. We described our event as a live taping of an episode, but we felt the content didn’t really live up to that description after the event. When you’re writing yours, think SEO and sound bites! Something people will pick up on in a crowded newsfeed.
  • Hype. Build anticipation by letting people know when you’ll be broadcasting live. We utilized social posts on all of our channels to do this, but we learned that leveraging paid social media promotion could have expanded our reach and increased engagement. 
  • Use alternate channels. Share your plans to live stream and details about the event or topic you’ll be covering before the broadcast across your social media landscape. You can also share the recording of your broadcast on each network afterward. 
  • Promote internally. Let co-workers and brand ambassadors know about the event and encourage them to tune in. The FiComm team was supportive and just as excited for the first live stream as the hosts were, and it made all the difference. More views of the live stream will give you an organic boost in each social network’s algorithm.

GO LIVE!

If you’ve followed the steps above for pre-broadcast preparation, then you should feel great going into the day of the live stream. But everyone can get nervous in the spotlight, so here are some things to keep in mind during the broadcast.

  • Where do I look? For our event, Candice and Meg did a great job of looking at the camera to engage the audience and then at each other as they discussed the live stream content. Format can vary but having moments of direct eye contact (looking into the camera lens) can increase engagement by making the audience feel connected. 
  • Be collegial. If you’re going to answer comments, greet the commenters by name if you can, establishing a personal connection and adding some personality to your brand representation. 
  • Backstage is critical. Anything can happen during a live stream, and maintaining a consistent show flow and a great experience for viewers requires a backstage hand – me! I ran the pre-show graphics and video, brought Meg and Candice on stage, and then monitored each platform for questions, comments, and viewership throughout the event. 

Post-Broadcast.

After the live stream, it is important to keep the momentum you’ve built rolling, this is the phase we’re in for our event. Always respond to comments and questions on social to continue the conversation and get the most of your new video with these tips.

  • Keep promoting. The video will be published to your page or profile so that fans and friends who missed it can watch it at a later time. 
  • Optimize your video after the fact. You can edit some of the metadata and change your video’s thumbnail to increase views and organic reach. You can also download the video to utilize on your website, create smaller clips for social media and upload to platforms that you did not include in the live event. For us, that is YouTube and LinkedIn. 
  • Record your metrics. Live streams are super measurable so make the most out of that data and use it to inform your marketing decisions and plan for future social promotions + measure your next event against the first. 

Going live on social media is an excellent opportunity to generate organic, two-way conversations with fans and give followers access to your brand in an authentic and fun format. FiComm’s first-ever social media live stream was a fantastic learning experience for the entire team and with these key learning and tips, we’re ready to tackle our next event.

Thank you to everyone who joined our first live stream. We’re looking forward to hosting more and always welcome new ideas. If you have a topic you’d like to see discussed or questions about marketing on social media, drop us a line!

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