2015 was a banner year for video and, in my opinion, a big year for video marketing—something that ramped up through 2016.
We saw a lot of brands jumping on the video bandwagon as Snapchat gained steam, Instagram unleashed live video, Twitter released video auto-play, and Facebook introduced video ads and, of course, native live streaming.
Live streaming has become one of the best ways to forge an authentic, one-on-one connection with customers. Brands are using live video to build a larger, stronger presence and reach audiences on the fly like never before.
As a professional, you can leverage live video to give your personal brand the same kind of lift.
You should strongly consider live video, given that by late 2017 video is expected to make up more than 70% of all traffic on the web.
Here’s how you can get the most out of live video to bolster your brand.
1. Make your videos personal
There are a lot of ways to present information in videos, but most fit into two formats.
Type 1: The video focuses on objects, backgrounds, or scenery while you narrate. In some videos, I’ve seen marketers record in “first person” while they travel. You see what they see, and they narrate.
Type 2: The camera is on the broadcaster, so you’re in the center of the frame. The viewers’ eyes are on you while you’re talking and presenting your information or ideas. The occasional pan to include surrounding sights or other people occurs, but for the most part it stays on you.
The second type is what you should stick with when working to build your personal brand. Videos should stay personal because that’s how you’re going to make a personal connection and build your brand.
It’s easy to turn off a video of a place or an object like a whiteboard. It’s not as easy to do that when you’re in the video, making eye contact with the audience, speaking to them directly.
2. Don’t script it
If you’re not used to streaming or broadcasting live and the idea of speaking off the cuff makes you nervous, you should relax. Everyone feels that. Eventually, you’ll get over it with practice as long as you keep at it.
Just don’t make the mistake of trying to script your videos.
Reading from a script ruins authenticity. It’s okay to be prepared, but you want your video to feel natural. People are attracted to those who are confident in themselves and capable of being themselves.
Rather than trying to read from a script, which creates an off-camera glance or stare with unnatural delivery, prepare yourself with a handful of bullet points.
Those bullet points can guide your delivery, and you can fill in the rest as you go. Don’t write those down; rather, keep those bullet points or target ideas in mind. Recall them, and practice a few times before you go live, and you’ll be good to go.
3. Go for quick delivery
Even the most devoted among your audience are going to tune in only for so long. If you want to grab people on the fly and grow your audience quickly, make sure you’re consistently providing a fast delivery on your ideas.
Long videos aren’t likely to get clicked on, so keep content as short as possible.
When I’m browsing content and a video grabs my attention, one of the first things I check is its length. I’ll happily drop a few minutes on a video, but those that exceed 6-10 minutes had better have a serious hook if they want me to click.
Wistia’s study on video length shows that shorter videos consistently get more engagement.
For a live stream, aim for 5 minutes or less. If you’re consistent with short clips, your audience will be more likely to tune in again and again because they know the delivery is quick and the value comes fast.
4. Don’t go cheap on hardware
There are plenty of options for live-streaming when it comes to equipment. When you’re out and about, a quality smartphone can be good enough to live-stream on the fly without too much worry over lighting and sound.
But if you’ve got a static setup in your home office, workplace, or studio, you need to be a bit more concerned about your equipment.
Sound quality is especially important. If your audience can’t hear you, there’s no reason for them to stay tuned in.
Always do a few test recordings to sample the sound and make sure everything sounds great before you go live.
5. Be funny, but with a purpose
Don’t make the mistake of trying to be funny just because you think you need to be funny. It can come off as poorly as a forced joke before a serious speech. On the other hand, don’t be stoic and serious because you’re afraid people won’t find you funny.
The right type of humor, with a purpose, can keep people entertained and will help improve your personal brand. The content you share is more memorable when it’s funny and encourages viewers to return and share what they’ve seen.
When working humor into your live stream, always remember to work within the boundaries of your brand message and personality.
6. Maintain authenticity
Avoid going over the top just to drive a point or create controversy for the sake of trying to gain views. You don’t want to grow your personal brand in a direction that doesn’t accurately reflect your true character.
When you try to create a character that doesn’t match you or say things out of character, the audience will eventually catch on, and it will reflect poorly on you. You wind up confusing your audience when you act differently from one video to another.
7. Diversify your content
Don’t just rely on live broadcasting to build your personal brand. It’s only one tactic—a part of a much larger and robust content strategy.
While it’s a great way to share ideas, think of it as a means for repurposing some of your best content.
Go through the topics you’ve covered while guest-blogging or writing on your own site. Review Q&As or interviews you’ve done, and pick out the gems. Use those as the foundation for a quick live broadcast to share great information.
Use live feed videos in addition to other content marketing methods to reach more audience segments and grow the visibility of your personal brand.
8. Build your audience to promote your stream
You won’t see much traffic when you initially start live streaming, which is why it’s important to start building your audience early on. There’s no better time than now.
Promote your other content through social channels to draw traffic and increase engagement for your articles and ideas. This way the initial engagement is in place, and you have some kind of baseline audience when you begin.
If you’re using native streaming on Facebook or broadcasting on other channels and sharing through social, you can always promote the replay.
The bulk of your viewership will come from video replays, which also might be shared on other channels.
Most importantly, be sure to actively engage the people joining your live stream. This keeps the comments up, spreads the visibility of the viewers’ activities, and encourages sharing.
9. Always bring value
Every video you create needs to have a purpose, not just random rambling. Whatever takeaway you’re providing should be made clear almost immediately. That’s the hook to get the attention of the viewer.
With the uptick in video and live streaming and with on-demand content available via mobile devices, people have developed pretty short attention spans.
Share that value upfront to keep them engaged.
Be obvious right from the start about the topic you want to cover. Say, for example: “Today, I’m going to talk about…” or “I’m going to show you…”
Remember, a live stream is another form of content marketing. When producing content, you always need to provide value, perhaps in a form of a takeaway. That’s what keeps people coming back and greatly increases the odds of shares, opt-ins, and continued engagement.
This clip from a tour of Arnold Palmers’ office by his long-time friend Doc brought sheer storytelling gold for golf enthusiasts who followed the live stream.
10. Brand yourself
Don’t forget one of the most important points of live streaming to build your personal brand: introduce yourself.
It doesn’t matter what you’re talking about or how short the video is going to be, always tell your audience who you are. You could also include where you are if you’re trying to brand yourself by location.
You never know who is watching, and every video could be their first introduction to what you’re sharing, so always start out with “Hey, it’s so-and-so, and I’m at…”
11. Go live regularly
With live streaming, there’s nothing wrong with creating a schedule and sticking to it. It won’t seem any less authentic, but it’s not absolutely necessary—not like having a blogging schedule.
What’s most important with live streaming in terms of frequency is just doing it often and regularly.
The more often you stream live video, the easier it gets. Your comfort and confidence will increase, which will ultimately improve the quality of the videos and the value you share.
Your audience will also come to expect regular videos and will look forward to your live stream, which is the keystone of personal branding: getting people to return and stay engaged, trusting in you to share your knowledge.
Live streaming is incredibly easy and doesn’t require a huge investment, but it can do wonders for your brand. It creates a visual connection with your audience, especially the segments who prefer video over reading.
Keep those videos short, stream valuable content frequently, and you’ll see consistent growth in the number of live views as well as post-live replays of your content.
Have you been using live video? What have you learned?