Effective Live Streams: Building Your Small Business’ Community Over Distance

Effective live streams have been massively successful for small businesses since Periscope hit the public eye in 2015.

Though not the first streaming platform, it was the first to catch the attention of savvy business owners seeking a way to build direct connections with their online audiences.

Used to host online Q&A sessions, gatherings, and other events often previously held in public spaces, the value of live streams quickly became evident.

Logically, many platforms began to follow suit, offering their own version of live streams to their users.

Seeing the option as both valuable and competitive, it became a staple for content platforms to offer a live streaming tool to their audience.

Awareness of the value in live streaming quickly spread, and more brands began to use it to grow their audience, their influence, and their connection with their target markets.

At this point, there’s no question that effective live streaming is incredibly important to building your small business online.

And now, in a world that’s been made distant by necessity, the ability of effective live streams to shrink distances and connect people is even more important.

But what should you do to make sure you’re building the right connections with your target audience?

Today we’re going to explore the best ways to hold effective live streams and build your online community in a world where the community is sorely needed.

Get ready, because applying this knowledge could change the future of your business.

Effective Live Streams Begin And End With Connection

For small businesses to hold effective live streams, they need to understand what the purpose is.

Obviously, in the long run, the goal is to guide those who begin as an interested audience through the process of becoming a customer.

However, over the short term, a live stream will only work if you are focused on creating connections with those tuning in.

Failing to do that will assure that your live stream is unsuccessful and ineffective.

One of the core ideas behind effective live streams has never been to focus on selling.

That’s never been an angle successfully used at any point in the past.

If you fail to focus on the connection you’ll lose the value of live streams. Click To Tweet

People tune into live streams for interesting information, unedited content, and a real look at the people behind the company.

They’re looking for a valid connection in a way that potentially develops solid relationships.

A lack of obvious and direct connection between effective live streams and sales makes it difficult for many small business owners to see the value.

Yet the value is still present for nearly every small business that decides to undertake the platform in addition to their other content.

Communities built through these streams become strong, and the members that don’t become clients tend to be loyal advocates for the brand.

But it has to begin with a focus on connection if it’s going to end in a connection to a larger audience.

Effective Live Streams Need An Effective Plan

No marketing strategy has ever been successful without a plan.

Not in a way that is duplicable.

Live streams are no different.

If you intend to hold effective live streams, you need to know what to do to make them effective.

But it isn’t about what content you stream so much as it is about how you stream that content.

People will tune into your streams if they’re interested in being a part of the community.

To interest them, your stream should be something that’s easy and enjoyable to be a part of.

Based on a few simple, proven principles, you can develop a live stream community that will regularly be a part of your broadcast.

Developing the community will take time but adopting the methods that assure a community can be built only takes a day.

Moreover, the technology involved in effective live streams is likely in your hand right now.

It’s already built into most mobile devices.

In fact, some platforms won’t allow you to live stream any other way.

That makes the barrier to entry for live streams almost nonexistent.

Almost because you need to lay the foundations for a great live stream community.

Here’s what you need to know to make your live streams effective.

Select The Most Logical Platform

The foundation of any loyal live stream community is the platform it’s on.

Many social networks offer ways to use live video on their platforms, but not every option will make sense for your business.

As an example, the most successful content on Twitch is video game streams.

Of course, that’s not the only thing people stream on the platform, but that’s the content the platform is most associated with.

Alternatively, Instagram has a shorter live stream time limit than Periscope.

If you need more time, you’ll want to consider that.

Depending on your needs, one platform may work better for your brand than another.

Or your audience may demand, based on its highest concentration, that you stick to a specific network.

While the network itself won’t determine how effective your live streams are, the features that are most logical for your brand will.

That’s why applying your own research is critical in creating effective live streams for your audience.

Decide where your audience is most concentrated and willing to spend their time, which platform’s time limits and ability to save the content make sense for you, and how much pre-promotion the platform will require.

Whichever platform makes the most sense is where you should begin.

However, if the platform stops making sense, it’s easy to switch to another one without losing most of whatever audience you built.

Stick with the one that makes the most sense for your brand.

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Create A Frequent And Regular Schedule

What content strategy would work effectively without a schedule in place?

Normally content requires a sense of frequency that allows your audience to predict when they can enjoy your content next.

However, if you want to produce effective live streams, this takes on a new level of importance.

Because, unlike most content your brand will create, live streams need a live audience to produce their greatest impact.

That means your audience needs to be ready when you go live.

It’s time to add those live stream sessions to your calendar in advance.

Give your audience notice to when you’ll be online next.

Your audience has to know when you’ll be live if you want them to tune in. Click To Tweet

Promote those live streams in a fashion and frequency that makes sense for your brand.

And assure your audience that you’ll be back for another one in the future.

As you continue to live stream over time, your audience will grow.

Your audience, due to your predictability, will be able to share your stream information with their colleagues, helping you expand your reach.

But that won’t work if people don’t know when they can find you.

While it might be intimidating to add yet another task to your schedule, the connection that effective live streams add is well worth it.

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Open The Stream For Audience Questions

Interaction is at the core of community building and, therefore, at the core of effective live streams.

Without it, your audience might as well be watching your pre-recorded content.

Audience questions and comments are the best way to monitor interaction and assure that people can participate.

Live streams all have a chat platform built-in.

Using that interface, your audience can post their questions or comments for you to read and respond to.

The value in listening to your audience outweighs the value in them listening to you. Click To Tweet

It’s only through your response that the community sees you as a real person who is genuinely interested in what they have to say.

That interest lays a foundation for trust and connection, which is the goal of effective live streams.

In addition, your audience’s questions and comments help to clue you in on the information they want that you can provide in your other content.

Provided you’re paying attention, that’s going to lead to a better overall audience base across all your content channels.

The valuable nature of audience feedback is nurtured in environments that promote questions and conversation, and your live stream is the right place to do that.

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Invite Your Audience And/Or Industry Colleagues

On Facebook and Instagram, the option to include a partner in your live stream is a new feature.

Using it correctly could change how effective your live streams are.

Collaboration between brands and content creators is known to be a powerful way to expand an audience and interlink communities.

Having the ability to make that occur on a live stream can make the outcome more powerful in an exponential way.

While the platform is still too new for any concrete stats, the idea has been around for several years.

It’s not uncommon to see guests on someone’s live stream, usually sitting in a chair beside them in a traditional interview situation.

These interviews are normally conducted by the host, who asks a combination of their own questions and questions from the audience.

Now that we can have the interviewee live stream with us from anywhere in the world without extra software and equipment, more businesses can take advantage of collaborations for effective live streams.

Make sure you mix up the people you have on the stream with you.

Include both industry colleagues and members of the audience.

Your colleagues in the industry have the knowledge and an audience that they bring to the table, allowing both of you to benefit from the stream.

Audience members get the chance to discuss their questions and specific situations, allowing you to give detailed answers to questions you might not have known were there.

That allows you to learn more about your audience’s needs while simultaneously making that deep connection live streams are famous for.

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Keep The Live Stream Conversational

One of the great things about effective live streams is that they’re unpolished products.

Your audience collects a sense of what your company and the people who make it work are really like.

While interesting content is what keeps people coming to a live stream, it’s the raw element that keeps them fascinated.

There’s something intimate and unfiltered about it that attracts us.

It’s almost a conversation between the brand and the audience.

This is why you need to keep the way you communicate over live streams as conversational as you can.

Raw content is the most attractive element of live streaming. Click To Tweet

Essential to effective live streams, conversational content is an informal way of speaking.

Using it helps your audience feel comfortable like they would around friends.

Evoking that feeling in them allows you to start connecting with them better, building a relationship that keeps them thinking of your brand as a friend.

Those positive feelings are what benefit your brand in the long term, allowing you to bridge the distance between you and earn the chance to continue communicating with them through other platforms.

Platforms central to nurturing your leads.

Creating the right environment allows you to build the elements of your long-term strategy, earning new clients from your live audience.

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Don’t Forget Automatic Moderation

Unfortunately, not every member of your live audience will tune in to learn about your brand.

The internet is full of trolls, as you’re aware, and some of them will attempt to derail your live streams.

Allowing a troll to go unchecked will assure you have no effective live streams.

While there is no sure-fire way to deal with them in every live stream, you can help control most of it.

Comment moderation is an option on every live stream platform, and it’s a simple thing to turn on.

Most comments that contain inappropriate language or spam will be automatically filtered out, removing most of the distractions from the feed.

Do what you can to keep the trolls at bay. Click To Tweet

That means you won’t need to spend so much time removing people who don’t abide by the rules.

From there, it’s a simple process of making sure that anyone who is creating a negative experience for your live stream audience gets blocked.

Keeping your stream positive and full of the right content helps you retain your audience and build that connection.

Effective live streams are dependent upon the environment you create, and automatic moderation simplifies your ability to keep your streams rife for growth.

Post The Live Recording For Later Viewing

One of the many benefits of effective live streams is the amount of content you can pull from them later.

However, you’ll need to make sure you save the video from them every time.

Some platforms, like YouTube and Facebook, allow you to automatically save the video to their platform where it can live perpetually.

But Instagram only adds it to your story for 24 hours, letting it disappear forever if you don’t manually save it.

By saving the recording yourself, not only can you post it to other platforms to live, but you can also use it to create future content.

Choosing some of the best moments from the live stream, be they humorous or extra help, you can create video clips to share on all your social networks.

Micro content is a great way to break larger content into something continually useful. Click To Tweet

On top of that benefit, allowing your audience who couldn’t attend to see what they missed out on is a great way to take advantage of FOMO.

Leaving behind evidence of the value in your live streams creates a desire for people to be a part of the next one.

When your audience sees that you’re answering their questions, responding to their comments, and generally having a good time with those who attended, they’ll start thinking about the ways they might be a part of your stream.

This helps build your audience base quickly, making effective live streams reach further and connect with more.

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Effective Live Streams Help Build Connections That Last

If you intend to build connections with your audience, especially over distances, effective live streams are your strongest option.

The ability to connect that they provide is unrivaled in any other content format.

Knowing how to make them effective is key to building through them.

And, with the steps you learned today, your odds are better than ever.

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Effective Live Streams: Building Your Small Business’ Community Over Distance

by Michael McNew Read in 10 min