USE LIVE CHAT TO ENGAGE YOUR LIVE STREAM AUDIENCE Live chat tips

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: 

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.

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:

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:

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. 

WHY YOU SHOULD INVEST IN AN OTT CHANNEL Why You Should Invest in an OTT Channel

Few technologies have been as revolutionary as OTT streaming. It’s made its way into nearly every industry in some way, whether for training, collaboration, or just entertainment. Companies with their own OTT platform are finding it easier to keep employees up to date, connect with customers, and maintain a consistent brand voice.

Have you been considering an investment in OTT? Take a look at these five ways an OTT channel will help grow your business. 

Reach a wider audience.

OTT is truly a global technology. It isn’t limited by regional standards; anyone with the internet can access your content. That means your potential audience base is much larger than with any traditional cable, internet, or satellite service.

Users won’t have to to purchase special equipment, either. They can use any internet-connected device, which presents a lower bar to entry for new users. People are more likely to try your OTT channel when they can do so without paying for a cable box or satellite dish. 

Create a user experience that keeps customers coming back for more.

Owning an OTT platform gives you unprecedented control over user experience.

Convenience is something that really speaks to users. They like being able to log in from their preferred online devices. Smartphones, laptops, tablets, smart TVs, and even gaming consoles can be used to access your content, and audience members can switch between devices even during the same session. 

You have a surprising amount of control over the final viewing quality on your platform. You don’t have to depend on a cable or radio network. Instead, you can take advantage of technology like adaptive streaming to provide the best quality based on the user’s device and connection.

 

That content has far more variety than a cable channel, too. An OTT channel can host:

In a global market, user experience is often the main differentiator between brands. The edge you get from an OTT platform makes you stand out from a world of competitors.

Cut out the middleman on distribution.

Getting content broadcast on TV and radio is a major hassle. You have to compete for airtime with creators of all sizes, which is both expensive and time-consuming. It’s hard to launch timely content, and network guidelines impose limits on what you can show.

OTT lets you broadcast directly to channel viewers. There’s no artificial waiting period between when your content is done and when you can post it. You don’t have to pay a third party for airtime or wrestle with censorship. 

Instead, you have a direct connection to your viewers. They can experience your content as you want to make it, when you want to release it. That is something you can never get on cable. 

Take control of your data and analytics.

It’s hard to get detailed performance data from cable networks (or even third party OTT platforms like YouTube, for that matter). You have no legal right to data produced by your content. All of it is owned by the network or platform host, leaving you to work with whatever data is made available. That data is often shallow, like shares and follower counts. 

An OTT channel is yours, which means the data is as well. You have full insight into every aspect of your platform. You won’t just see likes and views. You’ll gather information such as:

This in-depth data gives you the insight you need to operate more efficiently. You can adjust your content production and schedule in response to viewership patterns. Referral sources that yield more valuable users can be given priority for promotions. 

From a monetization perspective, better analytics helps you land more lucrative sponsors and advertising opportunities. The best partners want to work with platform owners who use data-driven arguments to prove their value. 

Maximize your income while minimizing your investment.

OTT is a low investment, high yield proposition. There’s no need to buy expensive equipment or lock yourself into a network contract. 

Most of the expenses are related to content production, not distribution, which means you’ll have a faster climb to profitability. In fact, an OTT platform can become profitable in half the time it would take a cable network.

You can offset your initial investment by using monetization strategies that have been proven effective through market usage. 

Don’t forget that those strategies are far more lucrative than they would be elsewhere because of rich data and platform analytics. Leveraging data to optimize monetization is part of the reason OTT platforms reach profitability so quickly.

All five of these arguments for investing in an OTT channel play into a higher ROI, actually. You reach a wider audience. They’re happier with your content. You connect directly with viewers, with no third party filters, and you’re the one profiting from your hard word. 

That’s something that fits into everyone’s business plan. 

 

Don’t wait to take control of your content by investing in an OTT platform. Let our experts answer any questions you have and show you how to get started today!

How API-Driven Architecture Is Driving the OTT Space API for OTT platform

Investing in OTT is first and foremost a business decision. Owners are looking for a solution that helps them reach their business goals without becoming another operational hurdle. 

Of all the approaches to developing an OTT platform, the most enterprise ready strategy is API-driven architecture. It has the right combination of speed, flexibility, and robustness to meet the needs of today’s entrepreneurs. 

What makes an OTT Platform “enterprise ready”?

The OTT market is growing fast, but it’s also highly competitive. You need to be at the top of your game to stay relevant. That means your software has to be designed with business in mind- what experts call “enterprise ready”. 

There are four key components to “enterprise ready software”:

You need an OTT platform that launches quickly, maintains a high level of performance regardless of how many users are added, offers the ability to roll out new features or pivot to meet new demands, and covers its costs as quickly as possible.

The best way to get you there is to use API-driven architecture. 

How Does API-Driven Architecture Work?

API stands for Application Programming Interface. It’s a set of code that handles communication between one piece of software and another. In plain speech, APIs let software share information with each other directly. 

API-driven architecture is a design style where the API structure is developed first, with everything else is built around that. Front- and back-end developers start by collaborating on API specifications. 

Once those are agreed on, the front-end team moves forward to focusing on UX/UI while the back-end shifts back to working on the platform’s core functionalities. This allows parallel development, where multiple parts of the OTT platform are being created at the same time. 

The opposite approach is called “code first” development. Developers design the platform’s functionalities first, then build API at the end. This leads to longer development cycles, and there are sometimes compatibility issues because the app wasn’t built with API in mind. 

It also gets complicated if the desired data is hard to access via API. Making it hard to use social media and third party tool integrations can reduce user experience, which in turn limits user retention.

Why do OTT Developers Like API-Driven Architecture?

Fortunately, developers can avoid “code first” problems by using API-driven architecture. It hits all the key requirements to be enterprise ready:

API-driven architecture as a whole centers user experience. Reliability and scalability translate into better performance. Flexibility means faster response to user feedback. You can grant access to endless integrations (calendar apps, social media, and even payment or banking apps) without forcing users to log into every tool, every time.

In other words, API-driven architecture works when you need it to, the way you need it to, at a cost that makes it a smart business decision. It’s the very definition of “enterprise ready”, and it’s the tool that will keep you a step ahead of your competition.

What do you need in an OTT platform? Let us show you how we use API-driven architecture to shorten development time, extend platform life, and improve overall quality. Reach out today!

Take control of your influencer income with an OTT Platform Take control of your influencer income with an OTT Platform

Traditionally, influencers have earned most of their income through a combination of social media ad sharing and sponsorships. Whether due to ad blockers used by viewers or changing platform policies, those revenue streams aren’t as consistent anymore. If you’re looking for a way to grow your profit, it’s time to follow the lead of major players and launch your own OTT platform.

What’s the Problem with Traditional Revenue Streams?

The very first income source most influencers see comes from ad sharing on social media platforms. It’s an easy, low-investment entry point when they’re looking to build their brand. Other revenue streams like sponsorships, sponsored posts, affiliate marketing, digital content sales, and crowdsourced sponsorships build off that social media audience.

The problem with this model is that your entire financial strategy rests on your social media activity. Any disruption to that activity threatens your income- and there are plenty of possible disruptions. 

For example, the platform’s algorithm can lower your reach seemingly at random. Videos get demonetized based on shifting platform policies. Even when the platform isn’t causing problems, the rising popularity of ad blocking lowers income from ad sharing. It’s hard to push your alternate revenue streams when social media is limiting your reach. 

Social media also restricts your access to valuable data. It’s difficult to measure your content performance on more than a surface level. With less data, you have less leverage in sponsorship pitches. That means fewer sponsorships and lower rates than you deserve.

The Rise of OTT Platforms

An OTT platform (short for “over the top” platform) means that your content is streamed over the internet instead of being broadcast like TV. It’s like your own personal platform that combines everything you use from social media in one place.

OTT platforms are on the rise overall, with an expected growth of more than 50% over the next 5 years. Influencer-owned platforms are steadily growing into a major segment of that total. The global influencer marketing platform market accounted for $4.8 billion in 2019, $6 billion in 2020, and is predicted to reach $24.1 billion by 2025.

Much of that growth is driven by commercial brands, who are still heavily investing in influencers. Since 2020, the percentage of brands who maintain a separate budget for content marketing has risen from 4% to 59%. Three quarters of those have earmarked influencer marketing as the majority of spending.

That spending isn’t being focused on mainstream social media, though. Social Media is so dispersed, marketers are searching for more creative influencer solutions to maximize the return on their investment. 

Instead, they want to partner with influencers who have well segmented, engaged audiences. Whenever possible they prefer those with analytics tools to demonstrate their potential and help measure the performance of their campaigns.

How Does an OTT Platform Generate Profit?

There’s more variety in available revenue streams on your own platform. The reality is, all of them are more effective there than they would be on a platform designed to make someone else money. Never forget that everything done on social media platforms is mainly to benefit the platform, not the influencer. 

With an OTT platform, the influencer and the platform are the same person. There’s no conflict of interest. That means everything that can be done on social media works better on your OTT platform. 

The most straightforward way to generate profit with your OTT platform is through the base revenue model you choose. You could decide to use an ad-based model where your content is free but features advertisements. If ads get in the way of your messaging, you could offer subscription levels that give access to different content for a monthly fee. There’s also the transactional model where fans can choose what they want to see and pay only for that. (You can read more about monetization strategies for your OTT platform here!)

It’s also important not to overlook the value of full data transparency. You don’t have to wrestle with social media for the data they’re willing to share. Everything generated by your platform is at your fingertips. 

Use that rich data to attract high-paying sponsors tailored for your exact audience. You and your sponsors will get a better ROI on all marketing efforts. Plus, you won’t risk alienating your market with ads that conflict with your brand values. 

You OTT influencer platform serves as a single source for all your revenue streams. Premium streams get higher visibility. Your digital content is easier to find, and branded merchandise is easy to promote to your most valuable fans. You can offer paid or sponsored classes, workshops, and tutorial. 

In other words, an OTT platform gives you full control over your influencer income. It’s the step that separates the hobbyists from the businesspeople, and it’s one you should consider taking if you’re serious about making money as an influencer.

Ready to level up your brand with an OTT platform? Let us show you how easy it is to get started!

How important is a digital community for growing your business? Digital community

How much time do you spend on building your digital community? It’s a small investment with incredible potential. In fact, a digital community sees more than 400% ROI due to low costs and high return, and that only goes up as the community matures. 

Let’s take a look at what exactly a digital community can do for you.

Build Engagement and Loyalty

Customer acquisition is one of the highest costs in any field. It can be five times cheaper to keep a customer happy than try to attract a new one. That makes customer satisfaction a major priority.

Your digital community is a huge asset here. It shows customers how your values match theirs and creates a connection outside the product itself. That connection is invaluable to building a good reputation, which is more important now than ever. Customers are willing to spend more with companies whose values align with theirs. If you can demonstrate that connection, they’ll feel good about buying from you and recommending you to friends.

Regular activity in a digital community has another benefit: it builds a habit of interacting with your brand. When customers connect with your content weekly or daily, your company becomes part of their routine. It’s much easier to retain those loyal customers. Plus, you’re more likely to get referrals from people who habitually share your digital content.

Gather Timely and Relevant Feedback

When you have an active digital community, you can see customer reactions to new offerings in real time. You’ll know if there’s a major problem you missed during development or if something is taking off more than expected. This lets you pivot in response to strong reactions and nip problems in the bud.

Feedback from your digital community can be used to guide the development of new features, products lines, and services. Having the ability to gauge interest among your most valuable customers before making a large investment is a huge advantage. 

If you’ve really put some effort into your community, you’ll be able to directly crowdsource ideas about what customers want. Customers who are excited and engaged will organically share their wish lists and criticisms through comments, posts, and Q&A sessions. It’s a cost-effective way to passively gather valuable development ideas.

Taking user feedback also makes customers feel heard and valued. It empowers customers with the idea that they helped create or shape your company and gives them a feeling of personal investment, which feeds into our next point. 

Generate High Value Leads

A digital community is the single most valuable resource for generating leads. Companies experience a 33% improvement on marketing efforts when an active digital community is leveraged. 

Your digital community is a base of loyal customers who naturally become brand ambassadors as they become engaged with your company’s content. They’ll share and endorse a product they feel excited about, especially if they were part of its development through online polls or feedback sessions.

Consider this, too: the value you deliver through free online content (like daily posts, contests and challenges, tutorials, and giveaways) nurtures future leads. It gives new customers the confidence to buy. When they already have some experience with your company, they trust they’ll get good value from a purchase.

Establish Your Reputation as a Knowledge Leader

Use informative posts such as tutorials or Q&A sessions to show your audience you know what you’re talking about. These posts can be shared or linked to in discussions about related topics, even far from your platform. 

When people see your content linked as an explanation of something, it puts you in the position of industry expert. You stand out from competitors as a more elite or valuable company, even if your products are similar to those competitors. 

Funnel Customers Where You Want Them

All of this contributes to a more efficient, effective funnel, guiding customers where you’d most like them (whether that’s your personal content platform or your company website).

When free content is valuable, customers assume there’s even more interesting content available for paying customers. They’re curious about what else they can get in the premium areas of your platform, or through making a purchase.

If you take one thing away from this article it should be this: your digital community builds the relationship that inspires brand loyalty, conversion, lead generation, and higher-value purchases. Don’t neglect this inexpensive yet valuable resource. The more you put into it, the more you get in return.

How can you engage your digital community? FanHero has a suite of platform tools to help you stir up excitement and connect with your audience. Ask us how today! 

6 Keys to a Dynamic OTT Platform Content Strategy Content strategy for monetization

The global OTT market is growing fast. It hit $82 billion in 2020, and industry experts are predicting $190 billion by 2026. If you’re ready to claim your share of the growing market, here’s how to build an OTT platform content strategy that will take you to the top.

  1. Set your goalposts

You can’t make a plan until you know what you want to achieve. This should be specific, measurable, and actionable. Asking pointed questions is a good way to guide planning.

Knowing how wide a niche you’re planning to cover will guide decisions on features and where to leave room for future expansions. 

Scale should be a major consideration, though. Your projected audience determines the types of cultural considerations, design choices, and language options to include. These are easiest to plan for in the beginning, so put it on your list.

If your main goal is entertainment, you might brush over some tedious details in favor of highlighting the most interesting parts of a subject. An educational platform would show a full process from different angles, and might even have a discussion channel. 

Keeping the purpose in mind gives you a level of overall consistency that’s hard to achieve otherwise. 

Once you have a useful description of your platform, outline what success looks like. How will you know when it’s time to add new features? What are some signs you should pull back and consolidate? 

You have full ownership of your data with your own platform, so don’t be afraid to get technical here. Something like, “Once I’ve passed 200,000 downloads and my 30 day retention rate is above 40%, I can add the next feature on my wish list” is an example of a concrete goal.

Finally, work out how you will differentiate your platform from competitors. Why will users join your platform instead of another? People are attracted to authenticity, so be sure your plan for differentiation reads true to your style. 

  1. Explore monetization options

There are 4 main monetization models to consider when developing your OTT platform content strategy. 

However, ads can be disruptive to the audience and contribute to a lower retention rate. There’s also the risk of lost income due to ad blocker software.

The drawback to the SVOD model is that it comes with higher customer acquisition costs than AVOD. The subscription price is also inflexible; raising it too much or too often causes regular subscribers to drop out.

These days, there’s a growing public dissatisfaction with “one and done” views, so TVOD is being overtaken by SVOD. It’s best reserved for premium events and special content. 

A tailored approach like this is more likely to appeal to a wide audience and give you the flexibility to stay profitable amidst changing market pressures. Hybrid models are more complex and time-intensive to manage, though. 

  1. Understand your audience

Before you can decide what to do, you need to understand how your audience might react to different courses of action. Gather and analyze as much data as you can get on your audience. Include points like:

Remember, your viewer personas have to be data-driven and based on analytics to generate useful insights. 

Check back on this periodically. Culture is very fluid, and what works this year might be a platform killer next year.

  1. Optimize your content production

Using your viewer persona, conduct seasonal reviews of your content as a whole. The majority should appeal to your most valuable viewer personas. Plenty of content leads to viewer loyalty. 

Make room for experimental or test content, too. This builds excitement and interest. Some of it may do so well it can become core content, and some might perform better when it’s used sparingly. 

When you see underperforming content, try to figure out why. Is it out of line with viewers’ interests, or is it just being presented wrong? Can you tweak it to boost views or should you cut your losses?

Never underestimate the value of popular evergreen content. You earn a higher ROI when people watch the same content more than once. 

If some content is being viewed over and over, try to create other content that captures the same feel. Be careful not to “flood the market” with dozens of identical videos, though.

  1. Diversify your promotion streams

Having a healthy variety of promotional methods lets you take advantage of new opportunities and gives you some protection against sudden market changes. 

Focus on things that have a high impact. That includes tailored keywords for your content and niche, building out a video sitemap, optimizing metadata, choosing relevant tags, including keywords in the meta description and image alt text, and creating attractive, easy to read thumbnails for your videos. 

  1. Evaluate, Adjust, Repeat

Strategy is a living process that needs to be regularly monitored and tweaked. It’s a regular cycle of evaluate – adjust – repeat.

Evaluate: What’s working? What isn’t? Are you meeting your overall goals? What is coming up that might affect your platform? How have past adjustments worked?

Adjust: Implement new ideas based on opportunities identified by your evaluation. Decide whether to keep or cut past adjustments based on performance. Take any necessary steps to prepare for potential disruptions or upcoming events.

Repeat: Starting from the “evaluate” step, assess the changes you made last cycle and check in on your content’s performance as a whole. 

Building a dynamic OTT platform content strategy takes time and consideration, but if you follow these steps you’ll be ahead of the game in no time. 

While you’re working on your content strategy, we can take care of the technical side of your platform. Set up a no-strings meeting today to find out what’s possible!

EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT ESPORTS OTT PLATAFORMS e-sports and OTT platform

One of the fastest growing segments of the OTT market is eSports. It’s not just live streamed tournaments, either. Popular eSports influencers attract audiences who are interested in the players as much as the games. 

If you’re an eSports influencer considering whether to jump to an OTT Platform, here’s everything you need to know to make the call.

The eSports market is on the rise- big time.

Once lumped in with traditional sports, eSports has set itself apart and is growing independently. International eSports competitions gross as much (sometimes even more) profit as physical sporting events. There’s even growing support for an eSports category in the Olympics.

The market is on track to nearly double by 2023. That estimate is based on the steadily growing audience. In 2017 there were an estimated 335 million regular eSports viewers. That number rose to 454 million in 2019 and is expected to pass 646 million by 2023. 

Viewership at that level translates into serious money. The 2021 global eSports market is valued at over $1.08 billion USD. Conservative estimates have it reaching $1.62 billion by 2024. 

Some experts are suggesting the recent pandemic will push those numbers higher- but even if they don’t, that’s a healthy market for influencers to tap into. 

Gaming consoles are one of the most popular OTT devices around.

More than 46% of US households with high speed internet also have at least one internet-capable gaming console. For households with children, that jumps to 80%.

People aren’t just using their consoles to play, either. 75% of users access non-gaming content through their console. They stream TV shows, watch live streams, and participate in online communities. 40% of console owners stream more than 10 hours a week through their console.

Many eSports fans are already heavy OTT users.

Given how popular gaming consoles are as OTT devices, it should come as no surprise that there’s a huge overlap between eSports fans and OTT users. The target demographics for both fields are very similar. In fact, nearly 90% of console owners are already subscribed to at least one OTT service.

In other words, eSports fans are very comfortable with the OTT format. They’re used to having multiple subscriptions and aren’t afraid to try new platforms. 

That makes it easier to attract eSports fans to a personal influencer platform than other audiences. You don’t have to sell them on the value of a platform, just the value of your content.  

The eSports subculture is naturally geared towards OTT platforms.

Fans of eSports have a different relationship with the genre than sports fans have with their teams. A lot of them play recreationally themselves. 

That means fans form personal connections to eSports influencers not just because of skill, but because of what that influencer can do for them. They want to learn from their favorite influencers so they can apply those tactics to their own games. 

There’s a social aspect, as well. Fans play with friends from around the world and can follow influencers regardless of language barrier. They form a long-lasting attachment to the industry that’s resistant to disruption by life changes and global events.

They also tend to be interested in opinions on upcoming games, industry developments, and eSports interpersonal drama. Topics like these are likely to come up on their social networks, and fans like to have “insider information” from influencers to add to the conversation.

The relatively low barrier to entry (compared with attending sports games) lets a wider field of fans participate in eSports. For the cost of one group trip to a major sporting event, you can buy a console and a few games to get started.

All these factors- active interest in a hobby, social engagement, and the desire to make the most of their investment- create a perfect environment for eSports influencers to establish their own OTT platform.

The most lucrative OTT revenue streams are naturally effective among eSports fans.

Everything that makes OTT platforms appealing to fans also makes the platforms lucrative to influencers. 

Think about how easy it is to organically promote sponsors through gameplay, equipment, and featured accessories. In many cases viewers actively want to know what tools you’re using to win.

For the same reason, fans are attracted to the digital content that OTT platforms handle so well. Digital content- strategy guides, playthroughs, premium Q&A sessions, and the like- have low production costs and high resale value. That translates into high ROI compared to physical merchandise (though fans do like to show support through branded gear, too).

OTT and eSports: a true Win-Win situation

The best business opportunities are ones where the buyer is getting just as much out of the relationship as the seller. That’s what an eSports OTT platform can be: insider information and social connection for fans, consolidated revenue streams and richer engagement for influencers. 

If you’re looking to level up your eSports presence, it’s time to seriously consider moving your audience to an OTT platform that puts you in control. 

Ready to get started, but not sure how? Let our experts show you what’s possible!

HOW AN OTT SOLUTION CAN KICKSTART YOUR EDUCATIONAL BUSINESSHow An OTT Solution Can Kickstart Your Educational Business

An OTT platform is the most practical, resilient, effective way to launch an education business in today’s market. It cushions your business from the fallout of market disruptions while expanding your reach to a global market.

In short, it’s the tool you need to get ahead and stay there. Here’s how to make it work for you. 

What is an OTT Solution?

An OTT, or “over the top” platform, sends video, audio, and other media over the internet without needing a cable subscription. The name comes from how it goes “over the top” of cable.

Most people know Netflix, Disney+, and other major OTT players, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. A whole new crop of OTT platforms serving different industries has popped up, and education platforms make up a growing portion of the market.

OTT and Education: A Growing Trend

The online learning industry is projected to pass $370 billion by 2026. Some of that growth was inspired by the 2020 pandemic, but as things slowly begin to reopen the OTT education market keeps trending upwards. 

Enrollment in online education facilities- businesses with little or no actual classroom space- is growing as a respected option for learning. The paid subscriber base for online education should hit 9.6 million people by the end of 2021.

Enrollment at traditional brick and mortar institutions, however, is falling. Those schools are also turning to OTT education platforms to bridge the gap. Before 2020, just 10% of traditional colleges were offering online degree options. 

Now, 33% plan to continue offering fully online courses moving forward. Even the holdouts are using OTT tools like Canvas or Blackboard to capture some of the power of online learning. 

It’s an exciting time to be in the education business.

The best business decision you’ll ever make

Taking your classes online is one of the smartest moves you can make from a business standpoint. An OTT platform gives you:

An OTT platform comes with a significant drop in operating expenses. Facilities and materials costs are lower, for one thing. Without a physical campus (or with a smaller one) you need fewer support staff to handle behind-the-scenes tasks.

You can make student materials available digitally instead of running up printing costs. Instead of buying pricey demonstration sets, teachers can use graphics or videos to illustrate subjects. There’s also the possibility of using freely available Open Education Resources (OER) to augment your existing coursework.

The biggest investment involved in starting an OTT education platform is start-up costs. Those costs are surprisingly reasonable. Technology is at the point where budget video equipment can deliver high quality footage, and you can choose to build a scalable platform that grows when you’re ready for it.

Those benefits grow as your platform matures for one simple reason: video content is evergreen. That means recorded programming can continue to generate revenue for an extended time. The ROI on that content increases every semester it’s reused.

You’ll have an easier time attracting busy high level experts, too. Teaching an online class is a lower time investment without the hassle of travel, and it’s less disruptive to their outside work. 

Why students respond to OTT education

The best thing about eLearning is that it’s popular with students, too. People from all walks of life are looking to build their skills and explore new interests, and for many of them an online solution fits into their lives better than physical school. They can access lessons from wherever they are, skip the commute, and learn at their own pace.

As more eLearning platforms are studied, we’re discovering that students often learn better online than in a classroom. Virtual classrooms let professors explain difficult concepts using dynamic graphics and video demonstrations that might be hard to do otherwise. 

It isn’t a small difference, either. 76% of teachers report that video tools help their students remember what they’ve learned, and 88% say students do better overall when using video learning strategies.

Part of that success can be traced to higher accessibility. OTT education appeals to multiple learning styles, letting students approach the information in their own way to really understand . They can pause or rewatch videos and use transcripts when taking notes. If they don’t understand something, they can privately message the professor without feeling embarrassed.

When students feel confident and supported by the OTT model, they have the tools they need to succeed. They study harder, engage more deeply with the material, and have high course completion rates. In fact, online graduate students are twice as likely to finish their degree than traditional students.

OTT as a corporate training solution

OTT isn’t just for full education businesses. It’s also a powerful tool for corporate training. Microsoft cut nearly $14 million in annual training costs by investing in OTT learning solutions for their employees. They racked up an impressive ROI of 569% on their initial investment.

Employees are excited by eLearning, too. They can work it in around their schedules, meaning they achieve higher completion rates (and in less time, too!). That flexibility is why 87% of young executives value a workplace that’s invested in video training.

How often do you get to save money and improve workplace morale at the same time?

How to monetize your OTT educational platform

There are four main ways to monetize your content with an OTT platform. Here’s a quick rundown of your options, along with the strengths and weaknesses of each model.

You’ll have a nice, regular income stream, though raising subscription fees without upsetting current students can be a delicate balancing act. 

Example: Masterclass

TVOD gives you more flexibility in pricing premium content, but some students feel restricted by the narrow selection of content and the requirement to know exactly what they want to study. 

Example: Udemy

AVOD isn’t a very popular model in OTT education programs because students generally don’t like interrupting their studies with ads. However, it can be a good funnel to a SVOD/ TVOD program, or used as a pilot program to gauge interest in a new course.

Example: YouTube tutorials

You could offer access to most of your catalogue for a low subscription (SVOD) with premium classes being unlocked by an extra fee (TVOD). Alternatively, you could offer free, ad-supported access to your entire catalogue (AVOD) and give live ad-free classes to those with a subscription (SVOD). Any arrangement that supports your business goals is a good one.

Example: Coursera

Where should you start?

If you’ve come this far, chances are good you see the value in an OTT education platform but are wondering where to start. Searching for platform builders online can be a daunting experience- even a discouraging one. There’s just so many options out there.

The best thing you can do is remember that you’re in the education business, not the technology business. Your time is valuable. Wouldn’t you rather spend it creating educational content than working on infrastructure?

Team up with an experienced developer like FanHero to take over the technical side of building an OTT platform. With that off your hands, you have the freedom to focus on perfecting your institution’s branding, content, and presence so when your students come, they’ll never want to leave. 

The best time to launch an OTT education platform was yesterday. The second best time is today. What are you waiting for? Let us help you get started now!

5 STEPS TO MONETIZE YOUR FANHERO PLATFORMContent monetization

What stops some creators from launching their own platform is financial uncertainty. They don’t know where the money is going to come from. Maybe they’re not reaching their full potential on social media, but at least they understand the process.

If this is holding you back, don’t worry! Here’s how you’re going to start generating revenue with a FanHero platform in 5 steps. 

Sign up for a platform. 

You can’t win if you’re not in the game! Set up an appointment with a FanHero advisor and get started on building your own platform. 

Your advisor will have a lot of technical knowledge, so focus on the business side. Lay out what you want your platform to do and choose features that support those functionalities.  

It’s also worth deciding whether you want your branding to be identical to your other platforms. You might want to use generally consistent cross-platform branding with a premium addition or styling element to make your own platform stand out. 

Find a balance between fun bonus features and what you definitely need at launch. You want to have a great product in the beginning but also leave room for “upgrades” later to keep things exciting.

 

Choose the types of monetization you want to use.

The first monetization decision you’ll make is whether your platform will be subscription based, ad-supported, or a pay per view (PPV) model.

Subscription: Users pay a regular monthly fee for full access to your platform.

Ad-supported: There’s no fee, but ads are included across the platform.

Pay per view: Users only pay for the content they view.

You might find that a combination of models works best for your audience. For example, many creators find that having the base app ad-supported with some PPV special events is most attractive to their fans. You could also have a premium ad-free tier that has extra features for those who want to subscribe. Go with the model that fits how your audience likes to engage.

You have access to other monetization options that might be more familiar to you, like:

All the revenue streams you’re used to will be available on your FanHero platform. The difference is they’ll all be more productive because of the greater access to your data (and the audience segmentation that follows).

Populate your platform with content. 

While you can use existing content as a base, there should be a healthy amount of content that’s completely new to your audience. You want people who sign up to feel like they’re getting value for their effort. 

Have enough available that users can’t casually go through it in a week. (Binge watchers are another matter, but since those tend to be your more loyal fans it’s not a major concern.) 

Set up a schedule for updates and stick to it. The audience needs a reason to keep coming back, and they’re easily disappointed when you miss a posting date. You can also let email reminders or push notifications in advance of new events.

As you build your content strategy, make sure there’s a clear path to audience engagement. Active users are more valuable than passive ones, and if fans feel like your platform is an interactive activity they stay engaged longer.

Move your audience from third party platforms to your platform.

This isn’t as hard as it sounds! Your base loves your content. They’ll enjoy having access to more and special content as well as having another way to support you.

Don’t make the move overnight. Build excitement while your platform is under construction. When you’re ready to launch, make the “switch on” a big event across all your third-party platforms.

It’s a good idea to maintain your other platforms as a recruiting funnel. They give you free advertising and a way to hang onto fans until they are ready to move to your platform.

Profit!

Once your content is up and your audience is using it, money goes into the account you set up with FanHero. There are no extra steps of check-ins. 

Plus, you’ll have full transparency on platform financials through a simple-to-use dashboard. You can rest easy knowing you’re in control of your money.

Ready to get started? Claim your free consultation today to find out where FanHero can take you!

HOW TO UNDERSTAND YOUR AUDIENCE BETTER BY LEVERAGING YOUR DATA The importance of knowing your audience

Whatever your reason for creating content, one thing is always true. The more you know about your audience, the more effective your content will be. If you really want to reach your goals, it’s time to take ownership of your data so you can understand your audience better.

The importance of knowing your audience

Most creators have a “target audience” they tailor their content to- some demographic they’d like to reach. A lot of times these “buyer personas” are made either using outside data (that is, general market information and predictions) or no data at all. 

However, your target audience is not the same thing as your actual audience. Your actual audience consists of the people who are watching and engaging with your content right now. It’s based in reality, with actionable information rather than assumptions about a persona.

This is a much more important group than your target audience. Focusing on your actual audience is more productive due to the simple fact that you’re not trying to get their attention- you already have it. 

You might ask, “Why is it important to make that distinction? If my actual audience is already watching, can’t I just keep aiming for my target audience and pull them both together?”

The problem with that line of thinking is that when you create content for your target audience without considering your actual audience, you can lose those valuable productive members. With no guarantee you can attract your target audience, that could leave you with falling reach.

You have to find ways to stay true to your brand’s style and messaging while also speaking to your audience. Present content in a way the audience understands and can engage with. Offer things they’re comfortable seeing, plus some extras they might be interested in but don’t know yet. 

Knowing your audience and creating for them pays off. You’ll find yourself with more views and richer engagement. Content will be shared more often, and with those who could be interested in becoming a fan as well. 

Having a better understanding of your audience has financial benefits, too. You’ll get better access to high-value sponsorships with a well segmented audience, and you can make more efficient use of your production budget.

So…. how do you go about knowing your actual audience?

Owning your data is key

The best measure of what your audience wants is what they do with the content you’ve already shared. Study how they respond to your current and past work by digging into your data. 

There are a lot useful metrics to consider:

 

Gathering this data is often the tricky part. You can find some of it- especially views and surface engagement data- using social media metrics. This is usually the first data source most creators use starting out. 

However, technically you have no ownership of your social media data. You are only entitled to what the specific platform chooses to share, and they can change or revoke that access at any time. 

There are a number of third party tools that can be used to track your current social media statistics and changes over time. You can then correlate that to your content, giving you some insight.

Surveys are a way to gather information directly from your audience. You can ask them what they like and don’t like without having to make guesses from information. This is somewhat limited in scope, though, and using it too much can alienate your audience. People tend not to want to share information about themselves to enjoy content.

A creator-owned platform is the best way to take control of your data. It provides the highest level of transparency into your audience’s behavior surrounding your content. You can integrate analytics tools to track platform activity and present it through an easy-to-read dashboard, taking the work out of 

It may take a bit more work to set up, but once a creator-owned platform is running it’s the only option that truly generates enough data to segment your audience and create data-driven user profiles.

How to shape content using your data

You’ve realized that knowing your audience is important, and you’ve gathered your data. Now it’s time to combine the two. Keep these core concepts in mind as you create content.

As experimental content gains popularity, you can start counting it with that 70% effective content. This is one way you can reach towards a target audience without losing your actual audience.

Use your data to identify the highest levels of engagement and launch new types of content that way whenever possible.

 

Finally and most importantly, always stay flexible. Your audience can change and evolve, and that’s a good thing. Just keep an eye on your data to be sure you’re on top of the changes so you can grow along with them.

Ready to take ownership of your data? FanHero can give you a backstage pass to your audience with a high-powered suite of analytics tools. Reach out today to find out what’s possible!

WHAT DO YOU REALLY NEED TO KNOW ABOUT A CMS?CMS

OTT platforms are growing as companies embrace enterprise streaming and creators take control of their content. To exercise that control, though, you need to get familiar with your CMS.

Don’t be intimidated. The entire point of a CMS is to be approachable, freeing you to focus on content instead of technology. Here’s what you need to know to get started. 

WHAT IS A CMS?

CMS stands for “content management system”. It’s an interface that allows you to manage a website or OTT platform without writing a single line of code. A CMS is absolutely essential for non-technical users who still want to have direct control over how things work.

Building a CMS does involve coding, so you do need someone knowledgeable to set it up. Once that’s done, however, you can update, rearrange, and add to your platform using user-friendly tools.

LIFE WITHOUT A CMS

Without a CMS, you need coding skills to do anything at all with your OTT platform. Here’s a simplified overview of what that looks like:

  1. Create whatever content is to be added, or decide what you’re going to change.
  2. Download the HTML files for the page you are going to work with.
  3. Use HTML and CSS to add the new text as well as graphics, navigation arrows, and other visual elements, then design them to follow company branding guidelines.
  4. Write any JavaScript needed for interactive or advanced site functions. For example, is there a chatbot? Will scrolling over images prompt a Call To Action (CTA)? All of that needs to be coded.
  5. Double check that no links or elements were broken by the new code. Not all code plays well together, and it’s common for an element that hasn’t been maintained to interfere with new elements.
  6. Upload the file back to the server.
  7. Content appears on the website.
  8. Repeat for every page to be edited.

With so many complex steps, there’s a lot of room for error. Someone who doesn’t fully understand what they’re doing can break an entire website trying to update a blog or add a photo to a gallery.

You could send your team to coding lessons to learn how to handle the system- but is that really in your best financial interests? If you aren’t specifically in the business of building OTT platforms, that’s a more granular approach than you really need. 

Worse, it takes time that your employees could more efficiently use on their core business tasks. Their other skills go underutilized because they’re having to spend half the morning posting a video.

Even for companies with IT departments, a CMS makes sense. IT has more pressing things to do than updating your website or uploading new content to training pages. With those user-level tasks taken off their plates, they can focus on higher level technical issues.

TAKING CONTROL BACK INTO YOUR HANDS

How different is using a CMS? Let’s take a look at the same updating process with a CMS:

  1. Create the content to be added.
  2. Open the CMS interface. If you’re already logged into your website, this can be as easy as clicking a link or tab.
  3. Use intuitive tools and text boxes to add content, then apply styling using tools similar to other programs you use regularly. For example, inputting text is very similar to how common word processors work. You can even embed video and links through this same interface.
  4. Consult a user-friendly checklist to manage SEO optimization, social media sharing, or other functions that have been made available at your level.
  5. Publish the content, or push it to an editorial team for approval.
  6. Content appears on the website.

There are fewer steps, and every one of them is more approachable than it would be without a CMS. The whole process is fast, simple, and safe. Best of all, new users can be trained on the CMS in a single day. 

WHAT CAN A CMS DO FOR YOU?

Update Content

The most obvious thing a CMS is used for is content curation. It gives you direct control over your content, letting you make changes personally without having to send a work order to IT. 

A CMS is especially helpful for projects that require collaboration. More than one person can be using the CMS at the same time for the same purpose (for example, writing a blog post). If higher approval is needed, users can push their finished to an editing team at the click of a button. 

Because the CMS is fast and easy to use, you can push updates more often. This keeps your audience engaged and helps build brand loyalty. 

Plus, you’re not spending time you could use more productively elsewhere poring over lines of code. That by itself would be enough to recommend a CMS- but it’s far from the only benefit.

Maintain brand consistency

A CMS enforces your branding and styling across your entire platform. Though this is a subtle advantage, it’s a powerful one. 

There are templates for new pages, preset colors and page design elements, and a full set of pre-approved functionalities to create a cohesive visual experience. 

When every user’s content is automatically given the same visual elements and styling, your platform gives viewers a more professional impression than if each person tried to interpret a style sheet when designing a page.

Control user roles

When more than one person will be editing the platform, you can assign different levels of access based on what each position involves. Specifically: 

The CMS automatically directs any alerts where they’re needed. Support requests go to support role holders, marketing interactions are visible to marketing and executives, editors get notifications to approve content, and so one. 

A person can hold more than one role, as well. They will have the highest level of access to a specific function offered by any of their roles, so be thoughtful when assigning roles. 

Having platform access controlled by a CMS gives you peace of mind when delegating responsibilities, since you know each user can only act within their specific roles. 

For creators, this means they can let an assistant post content while they work on new projects. For enterprise users, content can be created by staffers and approved by the management team as they have time.

Raise SEO rankings

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is one of the most critical aspects of any online presence. Better SEO leads to higher brand awareness and more sales leads. 

With a CMS, SEO is straightforward and intuitive. Most include automatic indexing options, and there’s a host of tools that can be added during development to walk users through SEO procedures. 

Even entry-level CMS users are able to check on their SEO quality using a dashboard that helps them:

The dashboard provides a dynamic evaluation of SEO quality as content is input and will prompt users when change is needed. If the keyword density is too low, or the keywords aren’t used in the right places to rank high, both entry users and editors can see that at a glance. 

Ease of posting has been brought up a few times so far, but it’s worth mentioning here because frequent updates boost SEO rankings. Platforms that update often are seen as more relevant by search engines and will appear higher in searches. 

Gather data

Owning your data is one of the strongest advantages of owning a platform as opposed to using existing platforms like YouTube or Medium. The CMS can be designed to give you easy insight into that data through dynamic dashboards and statistics panels. 

Use your CMS dashboards to answer questions like:

You can choose during development to integrate more analytics tools into your CMS to track things like user behavior across platforms and how they navigate your site. That offers valuable insight to guide your future decisions.

Improve user experience

A CMS isn’t only for your convenience. It gives your users a better experience, too. They benefit from easy to find and use search functions and responsive support channels. 

Your CMS performs the all-important task of device optimization for a consistent experience on desktop or mobile. (Being mobile friendly also boosts your SEO rankings; many of these advantages play into each other.)

You know what a CMS is and why it matters… now what?

Now that you know how valuable a tool your CMS is, you can use that to your advantage. Really engage with your developer when setting up your website or OTT platform. Share any pain points in your current process, and ask questions about what’s possible to explore how much you can get out of your new CMS. 

Make CMS training a priority for your team, too, so they can get in on the action. 

A CMS can be one of your most effective digital tools. The more you understand it, the more effectively you can use it to meet your business goals. 

At FanHero, we specialize in customizing a CMS for each of our partner’s needs. If you’re having trouble managing your “one size fits all” platform, we can design one that has your goals built in from the start.