13 Ways to Grow Your B2B Live Stream Audience
It’s open mic at a hot comedy spot in your city, and you’re gearing up to perform. But little beads of doubt are forming in the back of your mind.
Go on, what are you afraid of?
Well, that’s easy. You’re afraid people won’t show up to watch you perform, or worse, they’ll leave in the middle of your set. You’re afraid they won’t come back the next time and it will somehow be your fault. Maybe you’re afraid you’re exposing yourself to negativity from a crowd that feels personally insulted by your lack of humor.
This fear is natural. No one wants to prepare material only to find themselves playing to empty chairs and disinterested patrons, the latter of whom are just milling around the bar like tumbleweeds in a ghost town. This is doubly true if your goal is exposure.
The Live Streaming Journey
Now imagine the open mic is your live stream event and your hot of the press comedy material is your business’s product release, webinar, demo, etc. Will it be good? Will people care enough to come, stay, and even return for the next one? How can you make sure you’re not just streaming into the void or eliciting negative feedback?
Every stage in the live streaming journey has best practices that can help you grow and maintain viewership. From ensuring you operate with high quality hardware and software to taking the time to follow up on viewership metrics, a solid approach is a well-rounded one that considers not only the immediate numbers, but also the overall strength of your live stream strategy. For this reason, we’ll take our tips in phases.
Table of Contents
- Phase One: Content Creation
- Phase Two: Event Promotion
- Phase Three: Execution
- Phase Four: Analysis
- Conclusion: Be Ready to Scale
Phase One: Content Creation
Imagine standing up on open mic comedy night without a single joke prepared. If that sounds absurd to you, then you haven’t been to a webinar where someone decided to wing it, armed only with a few boilerplate slides and the strength of their expertise.
That’s not to say you can’t improvise. In fact, the best speakers do. But you should come prepared with a strong message in mind. You should know where you want to take your live stream audience and how you plan to get them there.
Now imagine you DID prepare and are now equipped with an arsenal of knock knock jokes for the late-night millennial crowd in front of you. You might as well not have prepared at all.
1. Know What Your Live Stream Audience Wants
Knowing what content is most valuable to your audience starts with knowing your audience and what content they want to see. Are they coming to you for education? Entertainment? Exclusive access to products, deals, or footage? How can you find out what content they want to see from your brand?
For starters, there is no harm in asking. Many brands survey their live stream audiences to better understand what keeps them coming back. You could also perform market research into your target audiences, what brands they follow, and what content they most interact with.
This extends to brand voice and tone as well. Does your target audience respond well to humor from companies like yours? Do they prefer a degree of professionalism? We can’t all be as brazen as Wendys in the early days of brand clap backs on Twitter. Think of this as the marketing equivalent to “reading the room”.
2. Connect With Collaborators
One thing your audience might want is to hear a little less from you and a little more from individual influencers and thought leaders in your industry. Stop trying to compete with these people and start using this to your advantage. Invite experts as guest speakers or members of roundtable discussions.
This approach comes with a myriad of benefits. By hosting these voices on your socials, website, and other channels, you’ll elevate your own voice. People will see you as an authority in your industry, adding valuable contributions to the discussion. You’ll also expand your reach by piggy-backing off of influencer audiences.
3. Prepare Compelling Visuals
Your branding efforts don’t stop with digital ads and paper flyers. If you put a talking head on video, make sure said talking head is filmed with high quality equipment and has branded imagery behind and/or around them. If you are including PowerPoint, make your slides nice to look at and easy to digest. And if you DO want something more casual, do it intentionally by making sure the level of effort matches the content and audience expectations.
4. Create Valuable Content
Granted, we’ve been talking about valuable content creation this whole time, but it’s worth noting that valuable content involves more than audience research, influencer participation, and compelling visuals. Valuable content informs, resolves, and provides.
In other words, ask yourself what your live stream audience is getting from the interaction. Are you teaching them something important to their industry? Or you helping them solve a problem they are having? Are you giving them resources or collateral that genuinely benefits them? Finally, is your content entertaining or appealing in a way that resonates with your target audience?
This is not to say you can’t sell to your audience, but don’t make that your sole purpose. Wrap your demand generation efforts up in an explainer video, well-researched webinar, and more.
Example: Wowza explainer video. This one isn’t live, but yours could be.
Phase Two: Event Promotion
You could have the best imagined and executed comedy routine in the world, but it won’t matter if nobody knows it’s happening. Unless you’re a major headliner or people in your city are searching “comedy shows near me” every other night, they are likely to miss you.
We don’t need to tell you that your next live streaming event needs promotion. But are you investing in the right kind of promotion and reaching the people that would respond best to your content?
5. Reach the Right People
You know the age range, interests, and industries of your ideal audience members, but is that enough? While it’s certainly a start, it’s likely an audience this broad will dilute your reach and cause you to waste advertising resources on the wrong people.
Digging deeper, you could be looking at job titles, decision making capabilities, and more. Ask yourself what action you want your live stream audience to take as a result of having watched your live stream and determine which job titles are most likely take it.
Armed with a more detailed profile, determine where you are most likely to find these people. This can be as basic as determining their most trafficked social media platforms or as nuanced as building specific customer profiles for online advertisements.
6. Network With Influencers
Industry thought leaders and influencers can do more than just add authority and value to your content. Maintaining a regular network of thought leaders and influencers (and involving them in some of your content) will help expand your reach. Suddenly, you’re not the only one pushing your events on social media.
But how do you get them to promote you if they aren’t directly involved in the event? There’s always the long game, wherein you build connections organically through interactions. Focusing on the value of your content will also help you in this endeavor. After all, thought leadership responds to thought leadership and influential industry experts will be drawn to content they care about. Be proactive. Let them know about your event. Make it sound appealing and relevant.
7. Offer Incentives
Come to my set at the open mic comedy night and the first round is on me! Who doesn’t love a good giveaway?
Offer deals, coupons, prizes, and more. Make your incentives exclusive to create urgency, from exclusive content to one-of-a-kind products. Incentivize everything from attendance to participation to ensure not only a good turnout, but also a lively discussion.
Earlier this year, we participated in a webinar with Postman that involved live streaming a 3D printer. Around the discussion of APIs and free trials was the promise of a 3D printed Postman figurine to a name drawn at random from those who participated in the discussion.
Example: Wowza with Postman full recording.
Phase Three: Execution
A big part of what makes a joke successful is the delivery. And while it can be hard to nail perfect delivery, objectively poor delivery will ruin the experience. If it’s true of your open-mic comedy content, why shouldn’t also be true of your live streaming content? Preparation only gets you so far. Make sure your stream is engaging and accessible.
8. Engage Your Live Stream Audience
This one should come as no surprise. You are streaming live, which means you can and should solicit your live stream audience for information, questions, and more. This could be as simple as a Q&A session or as complex as a game. However, you go about it, an effective engagement strategy is fun, educational, encourages robust discussion, or allows your audience to get creative.
What does this actually look like? Walk them through a tutorial with an output at the end. Give them opportunities to express themselves and their company’s mission. Get them talking to each other and not just to you. Finally, use your engagement efforts as a selling point when promoting the event.
9. Simulcast Across Platforms
Also known as multi-streaming, simulcasting allows you to push your content across multiple platforms, including sites and social media. In doing so, you make it easier for people to view your stream by meeting them where they are at instead of requiring them to access the stream in a specific location.
This may sound challenging, but simulcasting can be easy with the right streaming platform. All you would need to do is record and send the live stream while the platform transcodes it for different playback needs and sends the information along to different viewing destinations.
10. Stream Regularly and Reliably
When you promote your streams, you are promoting to two sets of viewers: those who are new to your content and those who are interested and just want to know when and where to see the next stream. Typically, promoting to either involves email, social media, paid ads on search engines, and more. But when everyone is doing the same thing to get their message out, it can be hard even for your followers to hear you.
Avoid getting drowned out by maintaining a regular posting schedule. Be it weekly, monthly, or quarterly, you should be consistent. Those who are looking out for your next stream, will know exactly when and where to find you. Those new to your brand will see an organization producing reliable quality content – one worth following.
Example: Simulcast a video ABOUT simulcasting? That’s very meta.
Phase Four: Analysis
Your set is done. It’s time to debrief and figure out what worked and what didn’t. Did your crowd work get a laugh? Were there any particularly irksome hecklers? What could you have done differently to have a more pronounced impact? Comedy or live streaming content, you need to assess the strengths and weaknesses of your performance.
11. Compile Metrics
Live stream assessment starts with data. The right streaming platform makes it easy to not only compile relevant data, but also cross analyze information and view overarching trends. Data can be technical, like average bitrate, or not, like number of viewers. It can be broad, telling you only how many tuned into the stream overall, or specific, indicating who stayed and who left mid-stream. Don’t overwhelm yourself with numbers. Figure out what success means to you and focus on those metrics.
12. Analyze Viewership Trends
Don’t just store the numbers. Take the time to analyze what they mean, particularly where viewership is concerned. After all, you’re here to grow your live stream audience. This means determining what the numbers tell you about audience behaviors, needs, and interests.
Did you know that some streaming analytics will tell you not only how many people viewed your stream, but also on what types of devices? Are your audience members mostly coming to on phones, tablets, or computers? How can you optimize your content to create a better experience for them?
Analytics can also provide valuable information about when viewers may have dropped out of the stream. Cross reference this with information about bitrate to determine if stream quality (or lack thereof) could be the culprit. Also consider the length of the stream and content being shown during periods where a notable drop occurs.
Finally, consider the available demographics of your audience. Where are they tuning in from? Are you reaching the right people? Match your audience profile with that of your target audience to determine if your attempts to increase viewership are successful or if you’re just cluttering your numbers with viewers that will never convert.
13. Rinse and Repeat
Have you done everything on this list? Great! You’re still not finished. This isn’t a one-time set of instructions for audience expansion. This is a best practice methodology that should become your new normal if you want it to succeed.
Example: Promo video AND good advice. If you’re not ready for your audience, you may not get a second chance.
Conclusion: Be Ready to Scale
Increasing your viewership won’t matter if you don’t have the streaming infrastructure to support expected or unexpected spikes. A scalable infrastructure is one that not only keeps up with viewership, but does so without sacrificing stream security or quality. Your streaming platform should:
- Provide access to an extensive video content delivery network (CDN) that serves your target regions.
- Utilize adaptive bitrate streaming (ABR), variable bitrate streaming (VBR) or similar workflows to maximize stream quality.
- Be capable of streaming at scale with sub-second latency if needed for seamless interactive live streaming experiences.
- Make it easy to simulcast streams across platforms.
- Value streaming security and efficiency and partner with organizations to continue to grow in those areas.
In short, you want Wowza. As a SOC 2 Type II certified provider that checks all of the above boxes, we have the tools you need today and the resources you’ll need tomorrow.
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About Sydney Roy (Whalen)
Sydney works for Wowza as a content writer and Marketing Communications Specialist, leveraging roughly a decade of experience in copywriting, technical writing, and content development. When observed in the wild, she can be found gaming, reading, hiking, parenting, overspending at the Renaissance Festival, and leaving coffee cups around the house.