How to Leverage Live Streaming For Fan Engagement (and Prosper) on YouTube

Live Stream and Prosper

It’s no secret (unless you haven’t been reading our weekly features with YouTube’s top talent) that audience interaction and maintaining a strong connection to your fans via social media is a key element to any successful YouTube channel. Shay Carl wouldn’t be where he is today if it weren’t for his die-hard fan base and his innate ability to engage his audience and make them feel as though they are a part of his family.

So you’ve got your Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr accounts all set up, and you’re consistently posting and tweeting to your fans. What else can you do to take your social media interactions to the next level? From stage left slowly walks into view the Internet’s seemingly ignored child: live streaming. Setting up a weekly live stream can provide you and your audience a new avenue of connection and can help hurtle you into the upper echelons of YouTube stardom. “But how do I go about this live streaming hoop-ha?” you ask, with a crumpled, confused look on your face.

Pick Your Live Streaming Poison

With so many live streaming platforms to choose from, it can be somewhat daunting to choose the right one for you. The top live streaming sites right now are Ustream, Stickam, and Justin.tv. All have an expansive user base and simple-to-use live streaming tools to get you up and streaming in no time. Most of the sites also allow you to stream from your cellphone. Gosh, ain’t technology great? YouTube also has the ability to do live streams, but this is currently invite-only and only available to people in the partner program.

(Y U No let everyone use your live streaming feature, YouTube?)

Set Up Your Stream

Live streaming from your kitchen? Don’t be a knucklehead! Set up in a comfortable location that provides your audience something more to look at than just your fridge, and make sure there is adequate light. Give your live stream audience the same thought and quality that you would give in one of your videos. Most computers have a built-in webcam that should be good enough for your live streaming needs (I’ll save the more elaborate set-ups for another article). If yours doesn’t, or you’re using a desktop computer, Logitech sells some really good webcams (a lot of which shoot in HD). Audio is also an important part of your live stream. Most laptops have a microphone built in that should be adequate, or you can purchase an external microphone if you want something better. I suggest the affordable Blue Snowball. Your connection speed will affect your video and audio quality, so make sure you have a decent broadband connection (a hard-wired Ethernet connection is recommended).

Let Your Fans Know What’s Up

Here is where all those social media accounts of yours come in to play. Let your fans know that you’re doing a live stream and when and where to tune in. Just like your Youtube channel, consistency is key. Pick a day/time every week to go live, and stick to it. All the sites mentioned earlier provide you with short url links to your live stream and also allow you to embed your live stream on your Facebook/blog/website.

Go Live

After setting everything up, it’s time to go live. Going live for about an hour will give you ample time to talk with your fans without keeping you too distracted from making more videos for your YouTube channel. Encourage your audience to interact by answering questions, ask for tips and suggestions for upcoming videos, or just hang out and talk with your fans. Most live streaming sites also allow you to record your live streams to view later, so even the fans who miss your live stream or can’t watch at your specific time/day can still tune in. If you stick with it, live streaming can be a valuable way to interact with fans and broaden your fan base.