Having been in the photographic business for almost 30 years, I witnessed the dramatic evolution in imaging technology. I have seen it all, right up to the lastest: live streaming video.
I’ve witnessed all the variants of silver halide films (Kodak, Fujifilm, etc., color negative and transparency) and Polaroid instant photography up to today’s digital imaging. Video technology has taken a similar route, from movie film (8mm, Super 8, etc.) to digital formats such as VHS tapes, DVDs, flash memory and 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.
I am a believer in building a strong personal brand. I have found a strong personal brand to be at the heart of much of my professional success. This is why 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’s brand.
We ran live video events from my camera store announcing new products, presenting technology panel discussions and streaming photography education. It was free, it was relatively easy, and we could speak to the entire world. We set the trend for the entire photography industry.
To view some examples of successful live streaming videos, check out https://msweetwood.com/live-videos.
Building on my personal success, I share with you the 13 tips that will help make your live videos a big success for you and help you build your personal brand and store business.
1. Camera on You. I am a big advocate of making videos very personal. People want to connect with the person speaking. So start off with the camera on you and then turn to your subject (if there is one). After that, you can show your store, lab, classroom or product. 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—a product, store service or just a rant—make sure people know who you are and where you are. You don’t know who will be watching, so it’s best to start by stating, “Hi, it’s Dave Manning here at the Broad Street Camera Mart.”
3. Takeaway Right Away. You only have a few seconds to catch people’s attention—make it count. Viewers have short attention spans and many options. 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’re talking about, they’ll click off. “I’m going to show you this new Manfrotto Kryptonite tripod that will change the way you take pictures forever.” Or you can be direct: “Your takeaway from this video will be perfect images every time.”
4. Be Professional. I know you know this, but video lasts a lifetime. Ask yourself if you are the person someone would want to connect with and buy from. This includes dressing properly, proper posture, no swaying side to side, looking into the camera and speaking knowledgeably—and no repeating yourself over and over again.
5. Be Humorous. Remember that teacher who was just too serious? Remember anything she said? I don’t. Appropriate humor connects you with your audience, builds your personal brand and can make even the most boring subject enjoyable. Gentle self-deprecating humor works well. I, for instance, will ask viewers if my hair looks good (I’m bald).
6. Be Natural but Prepared. Never read from a script. Nothing turns people off faster. But having three to five bullet points you know cold and can deliver naturally is perfect. I like to write those down in advance and repeat them to myself a few times before I turn on the camera.
7. Be Authentic. The best technique in building your brand and having people attracted to you is being yourself. When you try to be something you aren’t or say things you don’t believe, trust me, the audience will know it and think you unbelievable. And it’s okay to make a mistake. If you handle it without turning beet red or panicking, it can be a positive.
8. Length Matters. Long videos (15+ minutes) don’t get clicked on. It’s quality over quantity when it comes to the 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 to seven minutes is a sweet spot for big-view live stream videos. The longer it goes, the more entertaining you must be.
9. Bad Sound = Fewer Views. The biggest mistake technically you can make is having poor sound quality. If someone is watching you live, or replaying your video, and they can’t hear you, they’ll immediately click off. Test your sound beforehand. Record a short test video and replay it for a sound check.
10. Build Your Audience in Advance. You have platform choices for live streaming: Facebook, beBee, Snapchat, Periscope, YouTube. It makes sense to use a platform that’s easier to build a network on. If they can’t watch live, they can see replays.
11. But No One Will Watch Live. Your biggest viewership will come from replays. So make sure to market your video afterward. 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. Include a link to the video in your next e-mail blast.
12. Be Live Regularly. The more you do live streaming, the better you will get at doing it. Your audience will look forward to viewing you. You will notice people you meet mentioning they saw you on video. It’s a pillar of building a brand. I find that one to three live streams a week is perfect.
13. Create a Video Library on Your Website. There should be a dedicated tab on your website with links to all of your videos (YouTube, Facebook, etc.). You will find this one of the most visited pages on your site and your SEO will benefit. It also makes it easier for store personnel to send in-store customers there: “Click on the Video Tab on our website to see the latest video on the Lumix G85 camera.”
Live Video: Cost-Effective Communication
Live streaming video has helped me stand out in crowded businesses and be a market leader. It has provided a cost-effective method to communicate my message to thousands and has helped build a strong brand that has led me to both personal and business successes.
Do you want to be the retailer people think of when they want to buy a camera or attend a class? Live streaming video, done right, is a great way to get your customers’ attention and drive them to your website or store.