As a small business owner, you are undoubtedly wondering what you can do during this mandated downtime. Whatever you do, don’t let your brand go silent. For one, there’s never been a better time to get busy making noise, and two, you should make the most of the time you have now. When life gets back to normal, you’ll have kept close ties with your current ambassadors and made new fans to help you carry your brand’s torch. These are uncharted times, which means it’s time to go out of your comfort zone and in front of your audience.

Around the world, we’re seeing businesses move online. You don’t have to be Scorcese or Gerwig to hold a camera. The quickest, easiest, and cheapest way to make the move is through Facebook Live and Instagram Live

Maybe you’ve thought about trying your hand at live-streaming on social media, but you either never got around to it or you thought no one would be watching. Well, people are watching now. They’re actively seeking out virtual experiences while being cooped up inside. They’re looking for connection and a valuable way to spend their free time. Your brand can give that to them. 

It might seem daunting at first, but with a few tips, you’ll be a live streamer in no time. 

  1. Test Your Connection

There’s nothing worse than tuning in to a live broadcast where the resolution is fuzzy, the video is horribly lagging, and the sound level is all over the place. Make sure you’re broadcasting with a Wi-Fi connection and use a tripod or set up your phone or laptop on a stable surface to prevent movement. 

Remember there is usually some sort of lag when it comes to live videos. What you say, and what your viewers hear, may not be completely in sync. If you ask a question, give your audience time to catch up and answer via the chatbox. Attempt to fill that “lag time” with something else while you’re waiting. 

  1. Plan, Prepare, and Practice

There is absolutely nothing wrong with having a script when you’re doing a live video—it will give your segment structure. Jot down an outline that you can refer to if you get stuck or feel a lull. Prop it up next to whatever device you’ll be using for quick access.

While testing your connection, try out your script. A little bit of practicing in front of the camera beforehand can make you feel comfortable and confident going into your live stream. If you’re planning an instructional workshop, set your station up and do a demonstration before you air. Work out any kinks before you have a crowd.

  1. Engage With Your Audience

Going live is a great way to engage with your audience, but you have to remember—you’re live which means there’s no dead air. Talk with your viewers in your chat whenever you have the time. Ask questions. Conduct Q&As. Tell personal stories. Now is the time to show all of the sides of you and your brand.

The best way to engage with your audience, though, is to offer them something of value, whether that be a cooking class, a motivational workshop, or an educational seminar.

  1. Tips to Remember

    • Make your live video long. Facebook and Instagram prioritize live videos that are longer than 3 minutes. The longer your live video, the higher the chance someone sees your broadcast and tunes in. 
    • Tell people ahead of time. It’s easier to get viewers to watch your live stream if they know about it ahead of time. It’s also a great way to build up anticipation for your broadcast. Send out a few posts reminding your followers to tune in the day before and the day of your stream, add it to your Facebook or Instagram stories with a countdown, and even create a Facebook Event a week or two prior.
    • Pin great comments to the top of your chat. If you’re doing a Facebook Live video, you can pin any viewers’ comments to appear at the top of your chat. This can be a helpful way to highlight an answer to a question you ask, something unique that sticks out to you, and just altogether engage more with your audience and make them feel special.
    • Ask a question in your Instagram Story before you go live. You can access their answers during your stream and even set this up as a Q&A session.
    • Collaborate with other businesses. You don’t have to be the only face to appear on your live steam. On Instagram, tap on the “Add a Guest” button while live and you can choose another guest in your stream to appear on a split-screen. Similarly, on Facebook, you can ask a Facebook friend to join and share your live stream screen.

There is so much you can do to engage with your audience through live video on either Facebook or Instagram. Play around with their different tools and just give it a try. You’re not going to be perfect, and that’s OK. You will be showing your viewers a side of you they may have never seen before. Step out of whichever boxes you can. It’s an ideal time to create, expand, and engage!