I’ve got live streaming on the brain these days. Perhaps it’s because Stareable just launched its live-streamed webinar series, starting with a workshop on how to make marketing fun which you can watch right here. But also perhaps it’s because live streaming is an easy, fun way to connect with your audience more authentically without also having to mount a full production. Below are four potential live streaming ideas you can adapt for your own, defined specifically by the intended end result.
Goal: Make money all at once
To close out the end of Sam and Pat Are Depressed’s season 2 crowdfunding campaign, my team and I live-streamed on our YouTube channel for 6 straight hours, for the express purpose of gathering a few final bucks and go out on a high note. Because it was an exercise in endurance, we came up with a series of segments hosted by different members of the team, so no one was on camera the entire stream and could take some time for themselves to eat, go to the bathroom, or just relax.
Additionally, within each of those segments was the opportunity for viewers to interact via small donations. During my co-star Chris Cherry’s segment, he created a portrait of me with paint, poop emoji stickers, pipe cleaners, and more, an homage to his character on the show known for quirky crafting. With a small donation, fans could suggest a new craft item to continue the portrait, or request a new addition to the portrait like a horse or hat. This was visual, silly, and was by far our biggest moneymaker that night, because fans got to immediately see the result of their donation reflected on screen. We then also included the finished, vaguely-Lovecraftian portrait in the production design for the season they’d helped fund.
Production still from Sam and Pat Are Depressed season 2, episode 6
- Plan for a long stream to increase the likelihood that people will be able to stop by
- Include consistent opportunities for fans to engage by donating small amounts
- Segment out the activities to give team members breaks and keep the stream feeling active and fresh
Goal: Reward paying subscribers.
A great reward for one of your Stareable Enrich tiers might be a regular live-streamed check-in with fans. In order to keep it exclusive to those who have decided to financially support you, an unlisted YouTube stream embedded in a support-tier-locked Stareable Update is a great way of delivering it. Plus, this ensures that even if a supporter isn’t able to make it to the stream while it’s live, they can still watch the VOD version in your Update feed.
For a recurring stream, you probably don’t need to worry as much about segments, and you can focus on a more casual, intimate stream. Source suggestions from your audience beforehand, do Q&As, or even just set up a stream while you’re working on visually-interesting pre-production tasks like location scouting, wardrobe fittings, and more. Let your fans watch you work and bring to life the story they love.
- Make sure to keep this stream private so it’s exclusive only to paying supporters, otherwise it won’t be special
- Strike a more conversational tone- these are your closest fans, and they’re in it for the long haul
- Add variety not to the individual streams but the ongoing series of streams- one month try a Q&A, another do a wardrobe designing session, another take them along on a location scout.
Goal: Announce something spectacularly
Because a live stream is more of an event than a passive tweet or even standalone video, it’s ideal for making big announcements, like about premiere dates, new cast members, a new season, a crowdfunding campaign, or a major film festival inclusion or distribution deal. In order to make the most of the big news, this stream will probably require a little more glitz than others- literally think of it like you’re throwing an in-person event. Pay attention to how nice the frame looks, put up decorations, and make sure everyone is lit properly. You’ll probably want to pull screenshots from the announcement to promote later, so make sure you compose a frame that looks nice on its own.
Announcements in and of themselves don’t take very long- in most cases, you only need five minutes to get the word out in a way that makes sense. But a five-minute live stream isn’t very exciting, and certainly isn’t worth making an event around, so prepare something extra. If you’re unveiling a crowdfunding campaign, walk your fans through the various perks you’re offering in return, perhaps even showing them off, if they’re visual or physical objects. If you’re announcing a new prominent cast or crew member, do a short interview with them and talk over what they’re most excited about regarding joining the team.
- Promote and prepare this stream like an IRL event
- Have supplementary activities prepared, since the announcement itself won’t take very long
Goal: Attract new audiences
Live streaming, and really any solid supplemental content strategy, is also a great way of enticing audiences who’ve never heard of you before. The trick is to plan a stream that’s thematically aligned with your web series but that has a broader appeal to the audience segment you want to target. For example:
- A zombie web series hosts a “how to do zombie makeup” live stream, or a self defense demonstration stream
- A dating/relationship web series hosts a stream about picking good dating profile photos
- A roommate web series holding “roommate court” for the audience to air roommate grievances and have them adjudicated upon by the cast and crew
Prominently brand the stream as being “brought to you by [web series name]” and be sure to mention the show and where to watch it periodically. Bonus points if you can segue into talking about your show as a result of something that comes up organically during the screen.
- Similar to the announcement advice, promote and prepare this stream as an event in and of itself
- Frame the promotion as an offering/educational opportunity- emphasize what the audience is getting out of it/ what problem you’re solving for them