Want to create a loyal tribe? Wondering how to build relationships with live video?
To explore how to create engaging relationships while you're live on social media, I interview Janine Cummings on the Social Media Marketing Podcast.
Janine is a live video expert who helps women entrepreneurs grow their business with live video. Her course is called Accelerate Live, and Boss It Live is her membership academy.
Janine explains how to capture ideas for stories that will captivate your live video audience, and shares tips and tactics to activate your viewers. You'll also learn how to use strategic shout-outs that inspire people to share your video.
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Janine started with social media in 2014 on Instagram. She was battling anxiety and depression as she worked through the end of a long-term relationship, and turned to Instagram as an outlet for her feelings and to encourage others going through similar experiences. She took inspiration from creators such as Dana Chanel and emulated her style while creating her own Instagram stories to get a point across in 15 seconds.
In August 2015, Janine received a DM that said, “I found what you had to say in your latest video really insightful, but did you know that there's a live-streaming platform called Periscope that will allow you longer than 15 seconds to share your message?” She immediately downloaded the app.
She was fascinated with the ability to go live on the platform and how creators there were sharing their message. She wanted to go live too, and began a broadcast called “Walk With Me,” during which she would stream her daily 15-minute walk from the train station to her office. She shared her unfiltered thoughts, answered questions from viewers, showed them her surroundings, and generally engaged her audience.
Very quickly, she found she was good at engaging people in dialog while delivering her content, and she was good at growing her community. Within her first year on Periscope, she had attracted nearly 22,000 followers and became a Gold VIP broadcaster.
Janine was now feeling more purposeful and started a weekly show inspired by L'Oreal's Women of Worth campaign and #WomanCrushWednesday.
Every Wednesday at 5:00 PM she went live for 10-15 minutes to talk about a woman within the Periscope community who had stood out to her. She would tag the woman in the live stream, who would then get a notification on Twitter. The show had a ripple effect and soon those women would do the same thing for others on their own accounts.
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Janine then started a collaborative Facebook community called Women of Worth, in which five or six women from the community would go live together and each person would talk for 5 minutes over the course of an hour, thereby becoming more confident with video.
Not long after that, Janine created her first course and then quit her job. Three years later, Boss It Live is flourishing.
Why Engagement Matters for Live Video and Replays
The longer your audience stays connected to your content—the longer they engage and watch—the more you'll be rewarded by a platform's algorithm. This means your content is shown to more people. For this reason, it's important to make sure your content is centered on keeping your audience engaged.
While Janine acknowledges the merit of serving your live audience, she says it's important to remember two things. First, the majority of your views will come from people who don't tune in live; they'll watch the replay. Second, people are busy and time is precious.
The replay viewers watch your video from the very beginning. If you spend the first few minutes of your stream saying, “I'm just going to wait for a few more people to pop on” instead of getting into your content, you've signaled to your replay viewers that you're not really ‘there' for them.
Irrespective of how many live viewers you have, you need to speak as though the room is full. When you do, you're more likely to retain your audience and get them to engage and talk to you.
Start With a Story
Storytelling captivates your audience. To visualize this, when you hear, “Once upon a time there was a princess,” you're automatically captivated and want to hear the story through to the end. You can use storytelling that's relatable to the topic of your video to elicit that same captivated response from your audience.
For instance, if Janine wanted to share three tips to help her audience bounce back mentally when faced with challenges, she would welcome people to the video, state the topic of the day's video, and then spend a couple of minutes sharing a story that relates to the topic. She cautions against telling a long story from beginning to end because people will start to wonder when you'll get to the point.
Here's an example:
“Hey guys, we're going to be talking about three tips to help you get back up mentally when you're faced with a challenge. How many of you have experienced this in your business? How many of you have been working hard and then something happens and you feel like you're knocked down. Many of you know that I like to do long-distance running.”
By mentioning the running, she activates those people in her audience who already follow her and know she likes to run because she shares it on her stories and other channels. She's established a mental note with them that reinforces their connection to her.
“I was out running one day, really, really tired, but wanting to get through my run. So I hit my run target and I actually fell over. Oh my goodness, I just felt so humiliated.”
When you tell a story about something that's actually happened to you or someone you know and is relevant to the topic you're going to discuss, you help people identify with the situation. They're easily drawn into the conversation because they buy into what you're saying. They're engaged and the algorithm will reward you for that.
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To make sure you retain your audience longer, be sure to throw the conversation back to them. Ask if they can relate or what their thoughts about X are.
“So many people around. Can you relate to that?”
Then you can wrap your story and transition into the topic.
“But I'd hit my target for the day so I focused on that and ended up feeling really good about my run!”
Capturing Stories of Your Own
Sometimes you'll feel like you don't have time to think about stories you can tell or you don't have anything happening in your life. Janine says everyone has experiences that relate to their business or brand. The trick is to learn to make a note of those experiences so you can use them at a later date. Use your phone, your notes app, a diary… whatever works for you.
Engage Live and Replay Viewers
While you have to focus on engaging your live viewers because they're the people you're having a live conversation with, you have to strike a balance that engages your replay viewers as well.
One way to do that is to intentionally tell viewers how to engage with your content and make it simple for them to do.
Activate Viewers to Share Your Video
People will share content they think is valuable and reflects on them in a good way. If your request comes too early, the viewer doesn't know anything about the topic and won't know what's in it for them.
Typically, Janine briefly explains how to share the video after she's introduced her topic and established some value. As she moves into the main body of the content, she's careful with her requests for shares and doesn't push too heavily. She asks people to share only if they feel the content is valuable, then explains how to share it. “Click on the arrow icon to share this video with somebody.”
Activate Viewers to Comment on Your Video
While it's important to stay on topic and deliver value to your audience, remember that you're also creating an experience for your audience. How can you bring them into the conversation and make them feel like they're part of the experience? Give them a reason to take action and make it simple to participate.
Ask, “Where are you tuning in from? Comment with the flag emoji that represents the country you're in.” Or tell people to tap on the hearts reaction to signal they agree with what you've said.
If Janine is live, talking about how to do a power intro, she might say, “So, for those of you who are actually listening, how many of you are consistently using live video here on Facebook? If you're going live consistently, let's say three to five times a week, give me a green apple emoji in the comments. If you're not going live consistently, give me a red apple emoji. And if you want to share the reasons why, let me know in the comments.”
Janine keeps her activations simple so it's easy for her to see her community members in the comments so she can call them out. “If any of my Boss It Live Academy ladies are here, give me a crown emoji in the comments. If you're part of Accelerate Live, give me a rocket. And if you're part of the Academy and also Accelerate, add a #bosssquad to that comment.” Anyone who's a member gets to feel a bit special, but this also sends a signal to new viewers that her customers are watching.
Your audience needs to feel that they're seen and heard; that they're a part of something. Strategic shout-outs—mentioning your audience by handle or name—go a long way toward nurturing that feeling of belonging. On Facebook and YouTube, you can take this a step further by using third-party software to feature comments in your video. That visual boosts the impact of the mention.
Janine also uses viewer comments to encourage even more engagement. To illustrate, she might say “Sarah from Cotton Candy Fantasy has said that she feels very confident going live, but she doesn't have any time to do that because of her schedule. Are any of you affected by that? Do you…” Not only has she highlighted the original commenter, but she's also brought everyone else back into the conversation.
How Should You Pace and Place Activations?
Janine stresses there isn't a one-size-fits-all rule for when/where to place your activations. There's always going to be an ebb and flow of viewers and it's something you'll learn to manage the more you live stream.
Take note of when your numbers are going up and down. If you notice a large number of people coming in, acknowledge that new people have joined the stream and quickly acquaint them with how to share and engage. At the same time, you want to deliver your content in such a way that your replay viewers are encouraged to get involved as well. You might say, “If you're watching the replay, I want to hear from you, too. Drop your flag and apple emoji. Share your thoughts.”
There is a strategy and a formula for using live video to grow your followers but the key is to focus on the community and followers you already have. Those people have already expressed an interest in what you're doing. Use live video to deepen the connection with your built-in audience.
Key Takeaways From This Episode:
- Follow Janine on Instagram and YouTube.
- Learn more about the Boss It Live membership academy.
- Explore the Accelerate Live course.
- Check out Dana Chanel on Instagram.
- Save your spot for Michael Stelzner’s FREE Expert Masterclass at SocialMediaExaminer.com/class.
- Watch exclusive content and original videos from Social Media Examiner on YouTube.
- Tune into our weekly Social Media Marketing Talk Show. Watch live on Fridays at 10 AM Pacific on YouTube. Listen to the replay on Apple Podcasts or Google Podcasts.
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What do you think? What are your thoughts on creating relationships via live video? Please share your comments below.
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