I operated a photographic supply business and camera store for more than 28 years. During that time, I witnessed the dramatic evolution in imaging technology. With still imaging, I have seen all the variants of silver halide films (Kodak, Fujifilm, color negative and transparency, etc.), plus Polaroid instant photography all the way to today’s digital photography. Video technology has taken a similar route from movie film (8mm, super 8, etc.) to digital -- VHS tapes, DVDs, flash memory and now solid state drives.
The internet and digital imaging have brought instant gratification to the way we share our experiences. Snap a picture and share it immediately with friends or strangers, or both. The effect of that is most greatly felt with live streaming video. It allows us to share exactly what is going on in our lives and maybe more significantly, our thoughts, in real time. There’s a reason Facebook has opened this feature to its 1.8 billion monthly active users.
Related: Can Live-Streaming Video Help Me?
I am a believer in building a strong personal brand. I have found a strong personal brand it to be at the heart of much of my professional success. In 2013, when Google announced live video was available in Hangouts, I immediately started using that technology to build my online presence and my business’ brand. We ran live video events from my store announcing new products, having panel discussions on technology and streaming photography education. It was free, it was relatively easy, and we could speak to the entire world over the internet. We set the trend for the entire photography industry.
After selling my photography business in 2015, my attention and focus shifted towards building an even stronger personal brand. That brand includes my Man-Up Project, my photography, my speaking on social media and much more. And one of the most effective techniques I have used to do this is live streaming video. Today, I am also the U.S. CEO of a professional social network with 11 million worldwide users, and we allow all of them to stream live video. See some examples of successful live streaming videos -- none of them had a paid boost -- that I have done recently.
Building on my own personal success, I want to share with you the 12 tips that will help make your live streaming videos a big success for you and help you build your brand and business:
1. Camera on you.
I am a big advocate of making videos very personal. People want to connect with and relate to the person speaking. So, start off with the camera on you and then turn to your subject, if there is one besides you. It’s much easier to stop watching a video of things or places than someone speaking to you.
2. Introduce yourself and location.
No matter what your video is about -- whether it’s business, personal or just a rant -- make sure that people know who you are and where you are. You don’t know who will be watching, so the best way to start is “Hi, it’s Don Clark here at the…”
3. Takeaway right away.
You only have a few seconds to catch people’s attention, so make it count. Viewers today have short attention spans and many options, so to keep them engaged, tell them quickly what they are going to get out of watching you. If they see you rambling on about nothing or don’t understand what you are talking about they will click off. “I am going to show you something you absolutely need,” or you can be direct with, “Your takeaway from this video will be…”
4. Be professional.
I know you know this, but video lasts a lifetime. Say to yourself, “Am I the person someone would want to connect with, hire or buy something from?” This includes dressing properly, proper posture, no swaying side-to-side, looking into the camera, speaking knowledgeably about your subject and no repeating yourself over and over again.
5. Be humorous.
Remember that teacher we all had that was too serious about everything? Remember anything she said? I don’t. Appropriate humor connects you with your audience, keeps them watching, builds your personal brand and can make even the most boring subject enjoyable. Gentle self-deprecating humor works well because it reduces the narcissism factor. I, for instance, will ask my viewers if my hair looks good -- I’m bald.
6. Be natural, but be prepared.
Never read a script on camera. Nothing turns people off faster than that. But having three to five bullet points you know and can deliver naturally is what you want to do. I like to write those down in advance and repeat them to myself a few times before I turn the camera on.
7. Be authentic.
The number one technique in building your brand and having people attracted to you is being yourself. When you try to be something you are not or say things you don’t believe, trust me, the audience will know it. And it’s ok to make a mistake on camera. If you handle it without turning beet red or panicking, it can turn into a positive.
8. Be fast.
Long videos don’t even get clicked on. It’s quality over quantity when it comes to length of your streaming video. Sometimes you must run longer because that’s what it takes. But always try to do it in the shortest possible time. Five minutes is a sweet spot for live stream videos. The longer it goes, the more entertaining you must be to keep your audience.
9. Sound quality matters most.
The biggest mistake technically you can make is having poor sound quality. If someone is watching you live or is replaying your video, and they can’t hear you, they immediately click off. Make sure you test your sound before you do it. Simply record a short test video to your smartphone or camera and replay it. If it sounds good, you are ready to go live.
10. Build your audience in advance.
You have platform choices for live streaming like Facebook, beBee, Snapchat, Periscope and YouTube. It makes sense to use a platform that’s easier to build a network on. Even if they can’t watch live, they can see the replay.
11. But no one will watch live.
Your biggest viewership will come from replays of the video. So, make sure you share and market your video afterwards. Every viral video I have done has started with a handful of live viewers who were moved to share and talk about what I did. Sometimes viewership doesn’t peak until the next day.
12. Be live regularly.
The more you live stream, the better you will get at doing it and the more your audience will come to expect it from you. They will look forward to seeing you on camera. You will notice people you meet in person mentioning they saw you on video. It’s a pillar of building a personal brand. I find that one or two live streams a week is perfect.
Live streaming video has helped me stand out in crowded businesses, be a market leader and provide a cost-effective method communicate my message to thousands. It's helped me build a personal brand that has led me to both personal and business successes.
Do you want to be the entrepreneur people remember and think of when they want to connect with, hire or buy something from? Live streaming video, done the right way, is a great way to make that happen.