Engagement is one of live streaming’s biggest advantages. Features like live chat let viewers feel like they’re part of the show- but are you making the most of this powerful tool?
Try using our top 5 tips for maximizing engagement in your live chats.
Tip 1: Plan your questions in advance.
The beauty of live streaming is the genuine, unrehearsed connection between you and your viewers. That doesn’t mean you can’t do a little prep work to make sure you have thoughtful, engaging questions to sprinkle throughout your video.
Start by brainstorming more questions than you need. Really go wild here and make a big list. Having more lets you edit down to only the best and most relevant topics. If you have a fun one you don’t get to, save it for later.
Ask questions that compliment, not distract from, your content. Start with easy ones designed to draw out nervous viewers:
“Who are my new fans? Shout out if it’s your first time!”
“Where is everyone watching from tonight?”
Choose limited scope “closed questions” instead of freeform or “open questions”. You want viewers to quickly type in a response, or engage with what you’re saying, instead of getting hung on wording a perfect response.
Which of these looks better, the blue or the green?
What game should we review next?
Lay your questions out in the general order of your show. Where would they fit naturally? Don’t be strict about this. The idea is to have a question ready when you need one that’s relevant to where you are in the show.
Tip 2: Lay out the ground rules.
Make sure the audience knows what to expect from your live chat. Mismatched expectations can be an engagement killer. Fans who expect every question to be answered may be upset if you don’t see theirs in time to respond.
Spend a little time at the start of your stream explaining the live chat format. Don’t get bogged down in details, but do let everyone know what’s going on. For example:
Will you answer questions as they come up or would you rather take questions at specific points?
Are you going to run a poll and come back to the results later in the show?
Will there be trivia questions?
Is there a Q&A at the end? Will that be general or just about this stream?
You should be clear on brand-appropriate guidelines about language and behavior. What is okay for your channel? What will get viewers muted? Consider the level of profanity you’re comfortable with and which conversation topics are off-limits.
Again, don’t spend twenty minutes explaining the details of your content moderation policy. A quick statement is fine:
“I’m opening the live chat. Everyone play nice and no spamming the chat.”
“This is our after-hours show so you might see some colorful language in the comments, but let’s keep it positive.”
Have a link to your platform content moderation policy ready to send people who are acting up, but don’t post it up front. Reading the rules during the show distracts from your live content.
Tip 3: Bring backup.
It can be hard to talk and keep the chat in line at the same time. You could overlook highlighted or top fan comments that add to the community feeling. Worse, you might miss bad behavior and arguments until they’ve blown up into something that disrupts the show.
Consider having a friend or assistant around to act as moderator. Have them join the show and keep tabs on the comments in case there’s something you need to see. Keep a side chat open for easy, seamless communication during the live stream.
Don’t forget to introduce your helper! You want the audience to know who they are so everyone understands if they need to call someone out (which should be done with humor and tact).
Tip 4: Keep the show moving.
Because of varying signal strengths, there’s a slight delay between you & the audience. It isn’t long, but it does make for awkward pauses if you wait for answers after every question. Try to build that delay into your live streams for a more natural flow.
Awkward structure: Explain your line of thought. Ask a question. Wait for the answers.
“I’ve been seeing ads for this one plug in that would let me put a new feature on the site, but it could slow down the page loading time for people in low signal areas. Would that be worth it to you? (Awkward pause.) “It looks like people aren’t into that.”
Natural structure: Ask a question, then explain your line of thought or related thoughts while answers flow in. Pull out a few answers to talk about.
“How important is this feature to you guys? I’ve been seeing ads for a plugin that would let me add it, but I’m worried it might slow down page loads. Oh, birdwatcher43 thinks we already have something similar, thanks for pointing that out!”
It’s also a good idea to downplay disruptive viewers as much as possible. Don’t get caught up in comment drama unless you see something you really need to discuss. When you do have to step in, take care of business then lightly move the show past the disruption.
Tip 5: Engage with the audience!
Don’t get caught up in the show and forget to actually engage with your live chat audience. It’s frustrating for viewers to feel like they’re yelling into the void, and it defeats the entire purpose of a live chat.
Make viewers feel like you see and value them. Use screen names when replying to fans. Call out interesting comments. Greet repeat viewers and top fans you recognize by name. Welcome new viewers and explain in-jokes if asked. (Stick to your brand here- if your style is to say “Stick around until you get it”, that’s fine!)
It only takes a little extra work to put our live chat engagement strategies into place. Once you do, you’ll see a big improvement in both viewer participation and brand loyalty- both of which are keystones of a solid live streaming platform.
Are you looking for more ways to connect with your audience? Our engagement experts can walk you through the FanHero suite of technologies to find the tool that’s right for you.