In the past year, we have all grown accustomed to live, virtual events. With COVID restrictions hampering our ability to engage with others in person, we had to adapt to this now, not-so-new form of interaction.
What has been developing behind the scenes throughout this motley of a time is a more robust means of live media-social interaction — one where you can truly interact and engage with your audience. Branching away from just the oeuvre of gaming live streams, we have stretched into the domain of and improved upon Conferences, Commerce, and even Conservation. And with services such as Givebutter and Stage TEN, even harnessing this across several social platforms and engaging with a more holistic representation of your audience is a stark possibility.
This is all to say that the live streaming space has seen some profound alterations under the pressure of COVID restrictions conflicting with our human need to interact. And as a result, there have developed some fascinating new means to do so. Such as all great things, however, there is a catch: in the absence of fundamental engagement techniques, the livestream reverts back to its cold and alienating permutation. Accordingly, we’ve curated some simple yet overlooked fundamentals for engagement that should be the staple of the space.
1. Find your own niche 🦄
Something we should hope is an intuitive statement is that people have their own unique perspective. Whether you’re a student, a chess player, or a raspberry farmer in Tasmania, you have, through your unique experiences, been ever-curating your own perspective. Upon inspection of your own experiential niche — what you have experienced, where you experienced, and how you interpreted these experiences — there emerges variance between yourself and the common flock. It’s there that you discover all your quirks and proclivities, what your passions are, what your identity is. But this is only one component of a dual whole.
It must be understood that all people also require a space to express themselves. Sort of like how we all need food to satiate our hunger, so too do we need a space to satiate our want of self-expression.
Now, at the intersection of these two components, we find what we are passionate about and how we express it, namely, our artistic niche. It is a herculean effort actually to discover this, admittedly. It persistently alters at a faint whim, and is prone to be hidden in some spaces that you wouldn’t ordinarily expect. But when it is unearthed, it not only kindles your passion for further self-discovery, but also furthers your interest from the social eye. Some words by Seth Godin that you should keep in mind: “99.99% of what’s produced and sold is a copy or variation of something that was already made and sold.” When we come across something genuinely niche or something that comports to the intersection of self-expression and perspective, it stands out — we are more interested because of its divergence from the 99.99%. That’s why the live streaming conservation cameras in the Balule reserve are so intriguing. That’s why live Commerce is such a rapidly expanding field.
2. Reconcile your niche and your audience 🧩
Something that we all ought to be wary of, on the other hand, is the clash between your niche and your audience. Many tend to neglect the strange opposition between the two. Understandably, though, because naturally, they are two of the parts which make up the whole of content. But all things have a funny way of contradicting each other.
As explained, your niche is unique to you and is bound to you through your bespoke perspective and self-expression. Interestingly, however, your audience, while providing viewership for your niche, can have a negative element insofar as it pulls at your niche to accommodate the audience. In a sense, it has a strange propensity to distort it into a generalized and more universally palatable piece of content. Accordingly, it can be dangerous to your niche. It can turn your content away from your passions and towards drawl.
Therefore, it’s imperative that one finds their Golden Mean, between their niche and their audience. Because, as previously mentioned, it’s a possibility that an audience can appropriate your niche, distracting your content from a unique approach and lustre. And on the obverse, staying in line with your niche too much, ironically, can estrange you from your audience, which in turn cripples your content’s accessibility — not to mention that it can also injure your pride.
This Golden Mean can be identified as your battle for authenticity.
But unlike most skirmishes, it is detrimental if either side conquers the other. Strange to say, but a stalemate is preferable. But it is something that, as a creator or host, you must appreciate because, without it, engagement is either too inaccessible or too general that it stifles any unique experiences.
3. Embrace authentic interaction 👋
Now, it’s become a repeating motif that live streamed events can be dismal when little consideration of authentic interaction is in place. They can be very superficial and so absurdly full of empty intentions that it is, frankly, at times, an ordeal to even watch. To try to remedy this, here are some methods we would recommend you adopt:
🎧 Invite topic suggestions, feedback, and conversation.
One of the best things you can do as a host to an event or stream is to get your audience involved in the topic. The reason for your stream, whatever it may be, is ultimately to disseminate some passion or perspective, or query that you hold. Quite simply, then, just go ahead and invite your audience to explore the topic with you.
🎟 Invite followers onto your stream.
Now, this one can, of course, be a bit overwhelming with a large audience. But, it is an important component to bringing about a larger goal: the promise of a democratized internet. Everyone relishes the opportunity to exercise their liberty; all you have to do is let them.
🐝 Adopt a persona.
Okay, admittedly, this one comes off a bit strange. But candidly, it is a superb way of getting out of the commonplace mold of a host or creator. It’s always been a rarity to find someone who doesn’t enjoy fiction, so why not use it to your benefit?
It’s important to keep in mind that there is no perfected method or best practices to allow for you to have superb audience engagement perpetually with no margin for error. There are only suggestions. But that’s the joy of it! You get to experiment with your own originality and compose something unique to yourself or your brand that ameliorates a topic and subsequently the audience you share it with. Just keep some fundamentals in mind while you do so!
Givebutter made a $100 donation to Tina's charity of choice, The Four Women Fund, for her guest blog contribution.
More than 7 years as a marketing leader, Tina is a creative, data-driven retention expert with a passion for customer engagement and growth.