A guide to improving your live streams on Facebook and Instagram

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When it comes to interacting with an audience, many companies and content creators understandably choose Facebook and Instagram live videos as part of their social media marketing efforts. Thanks to those platforms’ broad audiences, brands have a lot of room to work with. Also, they make the most impact if they know what they are doing.

However, cultivating a social media presence and live broadcasting content on them are two very different animals.

Before going live, you need a firm video marketing plan built around your objectives, be active on the platform, and connect with your audience through new and fresh content that ensures people will be there when you go live. And that’s just for starters.

There are a lot of elements you’ll need to consider and prepare if you want to conduct live streams people will enjoy watching (and come back for more) — and that’s precisely what we’ll be talking about today!

Facebook Live or Instagram Live: Which one’s better?

Firstly, you’ll want to consider which social media channel you’ll use to approach your audience: Facebook or Instagram. Both offer your brand the possibility to live-stream to your target audience. This gives you the perfect marketing tool to interact with them in real-time.

However, there’s a slight difference between Instagram Live and Facebook Live that might make one or the other more appealing to you.

Instagram live videos work similarly to stories. Once the streaming is over, the video will disappear after 24 hours. If you want to keep it, you can save the video on your camera roll to edit it and then upload it to your feed. You could also share a live stream replay in your profile. It’s the only way to give your audience access to the video on demand.

On the other hand, Facebook treats live videos like regular uploads since they appear on your feed. Once the stream is over, you can delete it or post it on your profile so anyone can watch it later.

Beyond VOD availability, you’ll also want to consider which of the two platforms your audience prefers.

Facebook is widely used across most demographics. Thanks to Facebook algorithms, each user receives customized content based on their personal interests. This makes it easier to connect with the exact type of audience you are after. Since the launch of Instagram, a decade ago, the young generation has flocked to this social media platform. It kind of makes it the go-to platform if your content is targeted at a younger audience.

The two core ingredients of an engaging Live Stream

While they might seem rather casual and carefree from the outside, successful live streams require as much effort and preparation as any other part of your marketing strategy. You need to have a solid plan before clicking the “Go live” button to provide an enjoyable streaming experience for your viewers.

So, let’s start by taking a closer look at two vital ingredients you need to consider to improve the quality of your live streams.

Understand What Interests Your Audience

If you want to truly engage viewers in a live scenario, you’ll need to understand who they are and consider the topics they are interested in way before you start broadcasting. The good news is that both platforms provide you with detailed tools and in-depth information that can help you figure these things out, thanks to Facebook Audience and Instagram Insights.

These tools give you a wealth of information you can (and should) use to inform your live stream plans. Things like who is engaging with your content through demographics (gender, age group, location), the times of days they are active on the platform, the type of content they like, comment, share…

Understanding these things should go a long way in helping you figure out which topics would tend to perform well for your live stream. However, know that you can also use outreach tools like surveys that will always help you form a complete picture of who you are talking to!

Instagram, in particular, makes it fairly easy to create surveys and gather takes from your audience using Stories’ features. Whether through a poll (two-option query), quizzes, or simply selecting the “Ask Me a Question”, you can get a lot of relevant information about your audience and get a sense of what would motivate them to tune in to your stream.

Facebook also gives you some tools to gather information but works a bit differently. You create a post and click on Host Q&A. There, your audience will ask you about any topic of your expertise. Unlike Instagram, Facebook Q&A can be finished by the user at any time, but if you don’t do it will automatically end 24 hours later.

Innovate and Appeal Through Creative Ideas

If you want people to show up and stick around through most of your live stream, you need to give the people what they want. That means that you’ll sometimes have to stretch away from your comfort zone and try new things to keep your live streams interesting.

Now, the puzzle of “how to keep people engaged” has as many solutions as there are people out there, so it is vital to understand who is sitting on the other end of the camera. Don’t be afraid to try new stuff to figure out what works and doesn’t for you and your audience.

That said, there are some popular formulas and styles of broadcast that do an excellent job at appealing to a wide range of audiences (assuming the initial investment is there already, of course). So, if you are unsure where to get started, here are some popular types of live streams you’ll want to consider:

1. Announcements & Event Shares

Both of these types of content pair really well with the immediacy and spontaneity of live streaming. Announcements benefit from their timed nature, which lends more weight to the time nature of a stream. Live event shares make viewers distant participants in whatever relevant event you decide to cover and can be very attractive to whoever is interested in the event in the first place. Lastly, you can always combine the two! If your brand is prone to host events around product announcements or releases, you have a prime setup for a live stream.

2. Q&As and Behind-the-Scenes

Both Q&As and Behind-the-scenes live streams tend to do well with interested audiences since they leverage the medium’s interactive nature. Both types of streams allow you to be a bit more informal. They are approachable and give real-time access to your audience to content that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to experience.

3. Live Interviews, Debates, and Showcases

As long as you keep the topics in question closely knit to the things your audience cares about, all of these formats for live streams bring a lot to the table in terms of engagement. They may seem a bit less interactive by themselves. But, they still bring the appeal of immediacy as people interact live on your stream and can even synergize well with the other stream ideas we mentioned previously!

Let’s look at 4 ways to take your live broadcasts to the next level?

Understanding your audience and going for a style of the live stream that helps you keep things interesting and engaging for viewers will already go a long way to improve how people respond to your Facebook and Instagram live streams.

But if you are serious about consistently using live streams as part of your marketing or promotional strategies, here are four additional things that can dramatically improve your live stream content:

1. Use a checklist

Since there are no edits, re-shoots, or post-production in live streams, you’ll need to keep a lot of small-yet-vital things in mind to ensure a smooth streaming experience.

Most of these important details will become second nature in time through experience. But the best way to smooth out that learning curve is to develop and apply a checklist you run through every time you are about to stream!

Here’s one good enough to get you started, but remember that you can (and should!) add to it as you figure out your own process:

  • Test your internet connection and speed and ensure you have solid upload numbers (your audience won’t be happy if the video freezes constantly).
  • Test your microphone, camera, and audio setup to ensure they work properly before starting a stream.
  • Turn on your phone’s “silent mode” to prevent undue interruptions.
  • Close any unnecessary app or tab that uses the internet or might interrupt your streaming setup.
  • Check for camera placement, room lighting, and background clutter that might prove distracting.
  • If you are streaming indoors, check for potential sources of distraction — pets, other people around — and try to prevent undue interruptions.
  • Do another pass to your topics list or stream outline as a refresher before going live.

2. Interact with Your Audience

Live streams are meant to provide an interactive experience, where both you and your audience react to each other by sharing opinions and comments. Your viewers are looking to engage with you as much as you with them, so don’t limit yourself to talking at them or leaving them on their own.

Engage with your viewers as much as you can without compromising the core purpose of your stream. Answering their questions, addressing them by their name, or providing commentary on the points they bring up are always good ways to keep things interactive! It might seem daunting at first, but you’ll get used to it before long, and your stream will be much more appealing for it.

3. Find the Right Time to Broadcast

The specific time you choose to go live can dramatically impact how your stream ends up performing.

Depending on your audience, avoid scheduling your stream during office or college hours to make it easier for people to tune in. While weekends might sound like the ideal time to stream, consider the times as well since different types of audiences might be more or less active at different times of the day.

The best way to determine the optimal time for your stream is, once more, to take a look at your audience’s metrics and see at what times they are most active on the platform you decided to use for streaming. Barring that, between 6 and 9 pm are usually good starting points since most demographics use that time to consume content and entertainment (with lunchtime being a close second).

Lastly, as you figure these things out, don’t be afraid to run a few shorter live streams. They could be on similar topics and at different hours. WIth this, you can see if you notice a time where attendance and engagement seem particularly heavier.

4. Be Present in and Out of Streams

Last but not least, your presence on social media channels is vital when it comes to keeping your audience engaged in your content. Unless we are talking about a stream-only platform like Twitch, you’ll want to remain at least somewhat active on your chosen platform to keep people invested in your brand and motivated to show up when you do stream.

By the same token, consistency can be a powerful asset for growing your streams’ appeal. If you are making live streaming a part of your social media strategy, streaming regularly at consistent intervals and schedules will make people more likely to pay you a visit.

Wrapping Up

Facebook and Instagram live broadcasts are innovative tools. It can help you connect and build a close relationship with your audience. That said, you need to know how to leverage the medium to really make it worth the effort!

Luckily, after reading this, you are now much more prepared to start planning and improving your live streams right?  It will definitely open a whole lot of outreach opportunities that probably weren’t available to you before!

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