When I was working at YouTube, we always told creators that it’s a two-way conversation.
“YouTube is not TV!” we’d emphasise.
“Don’t just post your video and forget about it. Tell your audience to give you feedback in the comments below.”
This is how the whole “Comment, Share, Subscribe” callouts at the end of YouTube videos started. It was just best practice.
With live streaming though, this two-way connection goes a step further by allowing real time interaction between creator and audience.
And now with live stream shopping, it is being adopted more and more by creators and audiences everywhere.
But live streaming can be daunting
A simple Google search will leave you with plenty of articles on how best to stream on YouTube, the software you need, and more. All these options might make live streaming sound more daunting than it really is.
In reality, live streaming has actually become very easy. With the rapid rise of live streaming only platforms, YouTube and others have developed their own capabilities to cater to this new demand.
This article will take you through the easiest setup for great live streams and how to boost engagement on your live streams where you can make sense of the live chat.
To go live, or not to go live? That is the question.
Before we get to the operational aspects of going live, there is a very serious question you should ask yourself:
Should this really be a live stream?
Not all content makes good sense on live. Some content is better suited to be a VOD (video-on-demand) — aka a good ol’ regular YouTube video — and will perform better.
Some questions that can help you decide live or VOD:
- Do I need real time audience input for this content to work?
- Is my content related to a tentpole event at a specific date/time?
- Am I premiering a unique piece of content that I don’t regularly do?
- Will this content make sense if it’s not live streamed?
Once you’ve determined why your content absolutely needs to be live streamed, then you’re ready to dig into it.
Camera, lights, action!
As with everything on YouTube, it all starts with equipment.
In the past, you needed to connect external cameras and mics to your computer with specific software before you could go live on YouTube. You can still do that to ensure the best audiovisual quality, but you no longer really need to do this any more.
YouTube now allows you to go live from your browser.
The best part is you can just use your computer’s built in camera and microphone to go live!
But if you want better audiovisual quality, you can still connect an external camera and microphone to your computer. Then use an encoder like OBS software to bring the inputs together before you can stream to YouTube.
Mind you the OBS solution is only for seasoned live streamers as it’s not the easiest to use piece of software.
If it’s your first time, I’d recommend sticking with the webcam option and going live directly from YouTube.
Especially since audiences love the raw, authentic nature of lives, I don’t think you need a fancy setup to do a great live stream.
Here is a video that talks a bit more about your live options when it comes to YouTube 👇
How to boost the engagement
Now that the setup is out of the way, it’s time to consider how best to engage your audience.
And it all relies on live chat.
It’s ultra important to be on top of your live chat as live interaction with your fans is usually the main reason to go live. Think an AMA (Ask-Me-Anything) or a live beauty tutorial where viewers can ask questions or a live premiere of your latest video where you’re watching live with your fans and answering their questions in the chat.
A few recommendations here:
- Make sure you direct your audience when it comes to the conversation in the chat. Give them prompts to answer and stick with one prompt for a while before switching to another question, so your audience have time to answer, and you have time to catch the answers in the chat.
- Adapt your live stream based on audience feedback. There is nothing more rewarding to your audience than seeing that their ideas and comments can impact the stream and change it.
- Don’t ignore the camera. This might come off as very obvious, but when the chat really gets going and is flying by, it can be hard to keep up. Most creators end up looking at the live chat the whole time so as not to miss comments coming in, but the longer you ignore the camera, the longer you lose eye contact with your audience. Losing eye contact hurts your engagement and viewership.
Thankfully, similar to OBS, there are tools here to help you.
YouTube has a built-in poll mechanism on live streams. While native to the platform, it comes with some limitations, such as they can only:
- Be created from YouTube on your computer.
- Have between 2–4 options max.
So, if you wanted to add more options, you need outside help. This is where Multytude can help you.
Multytude is a comments analysis tool that connects to your YouTube channel in read-only mode. And don’t fret! Your audience remains on YouTube and answers your questions via YouTube chat.
Zero friction means maximum engagement.
The tool then allows you to run four different analyses based on the YouTube live chat.
- Run dynamic polls (with unlimited options)
- Explore live maps (to visualise places mentioned in the chat and not miss any of them. Imagine asking your audience to enter which city they’re watching from and seeing them all on a map.)
- Discover word clouds (to understand what’s top of mind for your viewers. Imagine asking your audience for content ideas and seeing which ones are most mentioned by the majority of your audience.)
- Run an AMA session (where questions are organised by topic. Imagine being able to select questions based on their overall topic at your own time.)
This way, your viewers continue to use YouTube live chat to send you messages, but you can analyse them to understand what ALL of your audience is saying instead of just the ones you can catch in the chat.
When it’s all said, and done…
Live streaming can be a great way to increase audience engagement, get closer to your fans and involve them in your process.
With the right tools at your disposal, you can now make them successful and engaging, rather than stressful and forgettable.
And most importantly fun — for both you and your audience.