Live Content: The Ultimate Guide To Grow An Engaged Audience

Live Content: The Ultimate Guide To Grow An Engaged Audience

Discover why live content and live streaming is booming and how you can use this channel to grow your audience

Audience Engagement

Gui Boechat

Gui Boechat

June 30, 2020


Live content is booming in popularity as social platforms and streaming platforms bring video content to a wide range of users. To compete in changing live content landscape, take a moment to understand how people are adapting to streaming content.

Use this guide to live content to understand the size of the live content opportunity, why millions of people enjoy this type of content and how your organization can jump on the live content experience. 

Discover now what live content is all about and how it can benefit your organization.

Live Content By The Numbers

The following stats should exactly how popular live content and online video are booming in popularity.

  • More than 75% of US households subscribe to a streaming service (source)
  • There are over 25,000 full-time YouTube content creators active today (source)
  • Twitch, a streaming content platform focused on gaming, has more than two million regular viewers (source)

It’s not entertainment, either. A growing number of companies are leveraging live streaming to sell products. Known as live commerce or live shopping, this type of business video is a powerful way to present products and generate leads at scale.

What is Live Content?

Live content means making a live video broadcast to your followers online. Content creators and companies often use social platforms like YouTube, Facebook, and Twitch to share these videos. After the video broadcast is finished, the video content continues to be accessible online.

Participating in a live content experience appeals to people for a few reasons. They get the opportunity to ask questions, make purchases and interact with online celebrities! The live content world has redefined the celebrity concept to include specialized influencers who know fashion, gaming, business, and other niches in detail. 

Interacting directly with your favorite influencers and companies isn’t the only reason people love live content. Joining a live content experience also means connecting with other people who share your interests. Sending chat messages to new friends is one of the biggest attractions to live content.

There are multiple ways to create a live content experience for your audience. Some content creators use a simple question-and-answer format to engage with their audience. For example, best-selling author Brandon Sanderson has run multiple popular Q&A sessions with his fans.  In that case, the audience effectively provides steaming content ideas through their questions.

Free ebook download: How to Create a Live Event.

Live Content Success Story: Critical Roll

Another approach to live content is to stream a performance. This approach is particularly popular in online communities dedicated to gaming. For example, the Dungeons & Dragons online show “Critical Roll” was performed live for its first several hours. 

Critical Roll is notable because each live stream episode typically lasted several hours. Critical Roll has developed a passionate fanbase that regularly submits its fan art. In addition and provided over $11 million to support the team’s TV show launch via Kickstarter. All of the group’s success - including product sales - can ultimately be traced back to live content.

The Evolution of Live Content

The current boom in live content builds on past technologies and experiences. Understanding the history of live content is helpful because it illustrates what audiences value. Before the digital era, broadcasters on TV and radio brought together audiences to share important news. In 1969, it is estimated that more than 600 million people watched the Apollo 11 Moon Landing. That shared experience helped to set the stage for today’s live content experiences.

Fast forward to the digital era. Almost anybody can create a live content experience and find a new audience online with a mobile app and a good idea. High-speed Internet connections and content distribution platforms like YouTube make sharing live stream video content easier. The boom in streaming services like YouTube, Ustream and other platforms make it even easier to distribute your content with your audience.

Streaming video services achieved a significant milestone in the summer of 2022. Nielsen reported that streaming services are now more popular than cable TV in the US for the first time. Streaming accounts for 34.8% of total US television usage compared to 34.4% for broadcast and television.  While major platforms like Netflix and Disney+ have the greatest market share, the ongoing growth of accessible services like YouTube show that other brands can still grow.

As traditional TV declines in popularity, why should brands invest more time and resources into producing live content? There are several reasons why live content deserves a prominent place in your content strategy.

The Top Benefits of Live Content For Brands and Publishers

Investing resources into live content is worthwhile because it can give an exceptional return.

  • 69% of viewers are likely to buy a ticket for an even after watching a live event.
  • 54% of people want to see more video from their favorite brands.
  • Consumers view live video 10 times longer than non-live video.
  • 63% of Millennials watch live streaming content regularly.

Appealing to Millennials (born between 1981 and 1996) is a critically important demographic for many brands. Millennials make up 21.75% of the US population (roughly on par with Baby Boomers) and have an average household income of $71,000. For organizations keen to appeal to Millennials and Gen-Z audiences, live streaming and video needs to become a key priority.

Video on its own is not enough however. It's also vital to offer dynamic content including audience chats where people can easily ask real time questions. Keep reading to find out your options to bring live content to life and grow your audience faster.

What Type of Live Content Is Right For You?

Instead of starting with specific consumer platforms for streaming, it’s better to look at the landscape from a strategic standpoint. This section introduces the different categories, including the pros and cons of each option, so that you can decide which option is best suited for your needs.

1. Self-Streaming

Some entrepreneurs, gamers and celebrities love to turn on their camera and start streaming their thoughts. Whether you use a smartphone or a laptop webcam, consumer hardware is all you need to get started with streaming. 

Earlier, we shared a few examples of livestreaming like author Brandon Sanderson and the Critical Roll web series. Entertainment in various formats continues to be the most popular type of self-streaming. The popularity of services like YouTube, Facebook Live and Twitch are making this approach to streaming easier.

Pros and Cons of Self-Streaming

  • Low Barrier To Entry

Standard webcams and microphones available in most computers and smartphones are all you need to start. Spending a little more on lights, audio equipment or a green screen can help you to stand out.

  • Low-Cost Content Distribution

Consumer platforms like YouTube are low-cost and have a large user base. Some of these platforms also include support for online chats. 

  • On Screen Talent

Traditionally, self-streaming live content focuses on one or a few performers. To use this option, you will need to find someone in your company capable of performing this role. 

  • Pulls Users From Your Website

Self-streaming video content, especially if one is seeking to minimize costs, relies on third-party platforms. If your live streaming goal is to generate leads, sell products or grow your audience, it is preferable to have viewers on your website. Unfortunately, self-streaming viewers do not always convert to website visitors.

  • High Competition For Attention

Online distractions are omnipresent with the traditional approach to self-streaming. Video sharing platforms will constantly suggest other videos, channels and notifications for your audience to pay attention to. As a result, it may be more difficult to reach your goals.

Who Should Consider Self-Streaming?

Using self-streaming video is valuable in a few circumstances. First, the low cost of this option makes it attractive when you are first getting started in video streaming. Second, your brand may already have a large number of followers on Facebook or YouTube. In that case, it makes sense to stream directly to those followers.

2. Social Media Live Stream

Leveraging a social media platform to grow your business is an established strategy. In the past few years, these platforms have introduced more video options and engagement options such as a chat window, the ability to accept donations and more. In particular, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter have made live video content more popular.

Pros and Cons of Social Media Live Stream 

  • Large Audiences Available

The leading social media platforms have hundreds of millions of users. According to the Pew Research Center, YouTube, Facebook and Instagram are the most popular platforms for US adults as of 2021. Participating on these platforms means you have access to a ready-made audience.

  • Advertising Options

The main social media platforms have strong advertising capabilities which make it easier to get more viewers. According to Shopify, the average cost per click on Facebook is approximately $0.94 (or $12.97 per thousand views). Social platforms also tend to favor campaigns that focus on keeping people engaged on their platform vs sending people away from their platform.

  • Viral Organic Growth Potential

While organic reach has been declining for years on social media, it is still possible for your content to go viral. The most reliable way to attain organic growth is to produce exceptional content. In addition, encouraging your audience to actively engage with your content (e.g. “like this video” or “comment below with your thoughts about what our next video should be about”) can help as well.

  • Platform Specific Requirements

Live content performance varies depending on the platform. What works on Facebook Live will not necessarily work on YouTube and vice versa. Therefore, there is a learning curve associated with each platform you use.

  • Pulls Users From Your Website

Like stream streaming video, encouraging users to view your content on social media makes is only indirectly helpful to your growth goals. If your goal is to grow traffic on your website, giving users a clear reason to regularly visit your website (e.g. time-limited sales or special content) is critical.

  • Your Content Is Competing With Friends and Family 

Reflect on how you use social media for a moment. You probably have connections with plenty of friends and family. Most likely, seeing updates from somebody you personally know will be more interesting than a live stream. This is the competitive reality of growing a following in social media. Your live stream content is competing against not only other companies but against updates from the end user’s family and friends!

Who Should Consider Social Media Streaming?

Given the scale of social media platforms, including these platforms in your strategy makes sense. For companies that already have a significant social media presence, using these platforms for live streaming makes a lot of sense. Keep in mind that social media companies are focused on maximizing user engagement on their platform while your goals may be different (e.g. growing the audience on your website). Experiment with streaming video through social media and other platforms to see which approach yields the best results over time.

3. Direct Live Content Experience

The direct live content experience is the high effort, high reward approach to live content. Instead of relying on third-party platforms filled with distractions, the live content is shown right on your website. To maximize your live content experience, make sure to include online chats in your strategy so that your audience can easily interact with you. 

Pros and Cons of Direct Live Content Experience 

  • Significantly Reduce Digital Distractions.

It’s getting more and more difficult to remain focused on one thing at a time. A University of Nebraska-Lincoln professor found that 19% of class time was spent using a digital device for non-class purposes in 2019. It’s not just students either - one recent estimate found that adults pick up their phones over 50 times per day! In this context, it is important to help your audience to stay focused on your content.

When your live content is only offered through your website, there are no distracting notifications or messages. Fewer distractions mean a greater chance of staying engaged with your content, making connections and experiencing enjoyable moments with your brand. 

  • Increased Conversion Opportunities.

Running a live content experience directly on your website means you control the environment. You can decide to offer time-limited promotions, incentives to contact sales and more. 

  • Increased Audience Loyalty

Achieving success online isn’t just about the number of followers you have. Engagement and loyalty are also critically important. When your audience starts to view your website as an interesting destination online, they are more likely to keep coming back.

  • Technical Setup

Adding live video experiences to your website will take some work. Yet, many companies and organizations have made it happen by using technology like Vimeo. Recently, we highlighted 10 Vimeo-powered live streaming websites. In the guide, you’ll see fitness companies, museums, classic TV and religious organizations are using live video directly on their websites.

  • Creating Compelling Content Takes Work

Coming up with content streaming ideas takes some work. Not only do you need to come up with the idea, but you may also want to script the event and rehearse it. 

The work effort needed to create engaging content is also an advantage though. Relatively few companies are motivated enough to create these kinds of virtual events and content experiences. Therefore, you will have an advantage over other companies if you invest in growing your audience more quickly.

To save you time in coming up with content ideas and planning live content, see the following resource: Highly Engaging Scripts for Live Coverage and Virtual Events.

Who Should Consider Direct Live Content Experiences?

While running a direct live content experience from your website is open to many organizations, it is a great fit for a few organizations. Media companies like broadcasters and news sites are an obvious fit - their goal is to keep their audience engaged directly on their website. In addition, educational institutions are in the business of transferring knowledge to students and live content can support that goal. Finally, entertainment and eCommerce companies stand to benefit from using live content experiences.

Best Practices To Improve Your Live Content Results

Achieving excellence with live content takes time and practice. That said, there are some best practices you can use to speed up your results.

  1. Start With Your Live Content Strategy 

Choosing the right concept for your live event makes a big difference. Your knowledge of what your audience has responded to in the past is your greatest asset. Review your analytics data, webinars and social media accounts to determine the type of content your audience engages with the most. If your data is insufficiently informative, consider running a survey of your audience to ask them more about their interests.

  1. Promote Your Live Content Experience Like A Product

You might be interested in running a live content experience in pursuit of your marketing goals. To achieve your end goal - more leads, more sales or a larger audience - it is necessary to dedicate resources to promote the live content experience. For example, you might offer exclusive benefits (e.g. discount codes or the opportunity to ask questions to a VIP in your industry) to people who join your event.

  1. Run Your Live Content On Your Website 

While running a live stream experience on a social media platform may appear easier, there are disadvantages. To achieve your goals, you need more of your ideal audience to visit your website. Therefore, it is best to stream your live content directly on your website and make it interactive by including Arena Live Chat.

  1. Prepare Your Team For Live Content

A successful live content experience is similar to putting on a conference event. You need talented people on stage and support staff working behind the scenes. At a minimum, a livestream event should only be run with two people: an “on-air” event host who will appear on camera and a support person keeping an eye on the live chat and other logistical details.

What if your team is brand new to running a live stream? In that case, it is helpful to run a practice event and only event other employees. A practice event is a great opportunity to identify technical problems, get used to reading and responding to user content (e.g. likes and comments about your remarks) and overall improve your confidence.

  1. Measure Your Live Content Results

Producing a compelling live content experience takes significant time and resources. It is a best practice to review the live stream metrics each time. Start with simple metrics like the number of attendees. Next, measure the effectiveness of your calls to action - this is where using special discount codes created for the livestream makes a big difference. 

Each time you run a live stream event, make an effort to improve your attendance and engagement metrics. Use the next best practice to ensure your livestream performance keeps improving.

  1. Test And Learn From Each Event Experience

It’s essential to go into running live content experiences with reasonable expectations. Your first event may have low attendance, low engagement or both. Don’t let those results discourage you from offering live content though! Instead, meet with your event team after the event and think through specific ways you can make your next event more successful.

For example, poor audio quality turns off many people. If this problem impacts your live content, buying a better quality headset or microphone could immediately improve your events.

The One App Every Live Content Experience Needs

The whole point of running a live content experience is to engage your audience. That means you need to give your audience a way to interact with you. That’s where a live chat solution comes in. Learn more about Arena Live Chat.

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