The COVID Response: Retaining a Live Stream Audience (For Entertainers!)

The COVID Response Retaining A Live Stream Audience (For Entertainers!)

COVID-19 has turned the entertainment industry upside-down. Big-stage performers have suddenly found themselves stageless. Musicians; actors; comedians; artists… They’ve all been forced to adjust to a new environment of isolation. And in the vacuum, more and more of these ‘traditional’ entertainers are going live to interact with fans. Live-streaming has provided a welcome new stage for a hard-hit industry.

But the transition online is more challenging than it might seem. Too often we see performers venture into broadcasting, only to abandon the campaign a few short weeks later. Why? Well, they’ve come face-to-face with the #1 most common streaming dilemma: a shrinking audience.

The story goes like this. Your first few broadcasts are a resounding success. Viewer count soars as fans tune in to witness the new medium. You pat yourself on the back; surely you’ve struck gold and continued success will follow – If only you stay the course.

Shortly after however, reality sinks in. Your audience dips as engagement falls. The novelty wears off; the honeymoon period ends. Viewers continue to drop until you’re left with a fraction of your original audience. You begin to question your investment in the livestreaming scene.

Sound familiar? We see it all the time, particularly for established performers and brands. So the question is, how do you combat a shrinking audience? How can entertainers retain their live-stream engagement?

Back profile of DJ standing in front of monitor showing crowd

Luckily, there is a host of tools at your disposal to keep viewers tuned-in. From stream overlays to interactive contests, animated alerts and viewer analytics – they’re all at your fingertips; you just need to know where to look.

And just like every creator on the scene, you’ll need to fight to keep those viewers coming back for more. Because the truth is, it’s easy to gain a burst of viewers. The real streaming challenge is to keep an audience around mid- to long-term. Broadcasters rise and fall, but the truly elite know how to maintain a fanbase over time. There are secrets perfected by the most established names in the live streaming scene. And we’re here to teach you those secrets.

But we’re not alone. We’ve invited our friends at Maestro to tag-team this guide. It’s only fitting; Maestro has mastered the game of enterprise broadcasting. Their white label platform provides ultra-customizable live-streams for the world’s biggest brands. We’re talking Adobe, Coachella, E3, the GRAMMYs, Sony Playstation, Microsoft, and more. Few understand viewer interaction and engagement better than Maestro. And they’re going to unleash that expertise below.

Maestro infographic showing laptop and stream overlays with tooltips

So let’s get started. Here are the Top 8 ways entertainers can retain their live stream audiences.

Use Contests to Reward Participation

(Maestro)

People love winning free stuff–it’s human nature. When creators tie rewards to active participation, everyone wins. Maestro provides many different avenues to reward fans using panels, overlays, and gamification systems.

Maestro’s live raffle overlay is like a t-shirt cannon for live streams–except we can shoot any kind of reward out of it; physical or digital. Audiences first have to log in then they can submit an entry by clicking on the overlay when it appears. After the countdown, a winner is randomly chosen and announced to the audience.

Quest Contest Overlay showing legendary video game blaster and adobe creative prize

Quests are another heavy hitter, injecting steroids into the concept of “drops” on YouTube and Twitch. Viewers are given tasks to complete and are rewarded with prizes or raffle tickets when completed. Voting on polls, answering trivia questions, visiting a sponsor site, watching for a certain amount of time, watching a specific set of videos–the list of tasks are endless. This is also a great way to involve sponsors who are looking for more authentic ways to integrate their brands.

Overwatch League, for example, launched League Picks, a prediction game using live data from the game. Fans were rewarded with increasing amounts of League Tokens (Overwatch’s virtual currency) in exchange for making more and more correct predictions throughout the season. The feature drove massive increases in watch time and retention of the audience.

Tall vertical panels over a computer browser for Overwatch League Picks program

Create Engaging Stream Overlays

(Visuals by Impulse)

A streamer’s bread and butter. ‘Overlays’ are the graphics you see pinned over a streamer’s capture feed. They are almost always transparent PNG files, commonly uploaded using OBS software. There’s a TON you can customize here, and they’re one of the best engagement tools you have at your disposal.

For starters, you’ll want to create a look that represents your brand. Just as a performer uses recognizable visuals on-stage, your overlays should match your brand appearance and style. That includes everything from colors to logos to patterns and more. You want your fans to ‘feel’ like they’ve got tickets to an exclusive gig, even if you’re separated by thousands of miles. You’ll stand out from the live-streaming competition, and your fans will grow attached to your brand.

Female Streamer Playing League of Legends with webcam

There’s an endless amount of overlay possibilities out there. Webcam frames provide a stylized ‘border’ around your camera feed. Event Icons recognize your most dedicated viewers, like top donators and new subscribers. Chat widgets display a live discussion-feed from your audience. ‘Goal’ overlays allow your fans to track and contribute to daily engagement milestones. When done right, your overlay combination can encourage interaction and community-building.

It may all seem overwhelming at first, but it doesn’t have to be. Our team at Visuals by Impulse specializes in creating custom graphics that match your brand visuals. We’ll suggest the best overlay types to fit your broadcasting goals, then guide you through set-up in an easy, hands-off process.

Use Analytics to Optimize Content For Your Audience

(Maestro)

Let’s face it: analytics on major platforms leave much to be desired in terms of data and, more importantly, how to act on the data to improve as a creator. Maestro’s insights are designed to provide an understanding on the impact of interactivity on key metrics. We encourage experimentation and using data to iterate quickly on the results.

Maestro browser window showing customer analytics and female isometric figure

The platform has a powerful built-in CRM (customer relationship management) system that provides creators with an audience database, complete with email addresses for their viewers. It’s unnecessarily difficult for creators to build meaningful relationships today without having this direct access to their audience. You simply can’t build a relationship with a view; you can only build it with a viewer.

Unlike in-stream graphics that are hard to measure, Maestro’s overlays are clickable and over the video. Views and clicks are tracked on each overlay, both teaching the creator what types of interactivity resonate most with their audience and providing a simple mechanism to report results to sponsors. All of the platform’s engagement features have similarly robust tracking.

Maestro browser window showing lower third widget and customer analytics

Most creators are focused on attracting new viewers, but savvy ones also spend time on figuring out what makes their content sticky and how to keep viewers coming back more often. Maestro’s customers take advantage of the retention dashboard, which provides never-before-seen data on how many viewers return from stream to stream and which features increase stickiness.

Encourage Interaction With Stream Alerts

(Visuals by Impulse)

One of the best ways to build a loyal fan base is with Stream Alerts. ‘Alerts’ are visual indicators that appear when viewers interact with your stream. Some of the most popular alert types are:

  • New Subscriber Alerts: When a new viewer ‘subscribes’ to your channel
  • Donation Alert: When you receive a new viewer donation or tip
  • Merch Store Alert: When a viewer purchases a new piece of merch from your store!

Why are stream alerts so effective? Well, most stream alerts showcase the viewer’s name for everyone to see, and most streamers recognize alerts with verbal shout-outs (ex, “Thanks for the $10 dono, HeadshotHunter!”). And who doesn’t want to be noticed by their favorite celebrity? Or see their name up on the big-screen?

For many, it’s about the adrenaline rush; a brief moment of internet fame. For others, it’s a feeling of being welcomed into a creator’s ‘inner-circle’; making it backstage and meeting an idol. It’s all about personal connections. And that’s how you build live stream communities.

So how do you get started? Well, that’s where we come in. At Visuals by Impulse, we’ll take your vision and bring it to life – delivering alerts worthy of your brand and audience. From silky-smooth animations to custom coding, our team of experts will take the wheel. We’ll even get you set up and ready-to-stream in a no-sweat walkthrough. It’s that easy. All that’s left is to start creating.

Leverage Leaderboards to Build Community

(Maestro)

Viewers love to express their fandom and show off their involvement in a community. Leaderboards are a fun way to encourage friendly competition for fans to get engaged further with your content. Simply add the leaderboard and assign point values to the activities you want to encourage then let viewers compete for their spot. Viewers at the top of the leaderboard at the end of the month or season can be rewarded with special prizes to further boost behaviors.

Grey leaderboard overlay listing six contestants and total points

To further expand on this concept and help fans showcase their status, later this year creators will be able to set up ranks for viewers to level up as they continue engaging over time. Streamer flare such as badges will also be unlocked at each rank, providing a visual symbol of their fandom. A points store is also planned in the future, where fans will be able to spend their hard-earned points on digital items, raffle tickets, and even physical goods like merch. Communities thrive on these kinds of features and now Maestro is building them right into the stream experience.

Put on a Show with Animated Displays

Nobody wants to watch a flat, one-dimensional performance. The truth is, a professional show draws crowds – and more importantly, keeps them in their seats. And animation is your key to a professional broadcast.

Motion design can take many forms on-stream, but some of the more popular are:

  • Stinger Transitions: A rapid animation between two scenes
  • Stream Intros: The pre-show, building hype before your arrival
  • Stream Alerts: Celebrating epic channel moments in style

When done right, animation triggers emotional responses in your viewers – from anticipation to adrenaline, curiosity or awe. That emotion is key to building both a live streaming community and attachment to your brand. With motion design we can create living-and-breathing performances, keeping eyes on the screen and energy moving forward. It’s what will position you a step ahead of the competition – and keep viewer count up.

Once again, the team at Visuals by Impulse is your source of all things animation. Our motion designers will study your brand, capturing the feel of your live performances and translating them onto a new, digital stage. And best yet, you don’t even need to break a sweat.

Set Up Landing Pages While You’re Offline

Even the biggest creators out there are only human–you can’t be streaming live all the time. In fact, a huge portion of clicks from social media typically end up landing your viewers on an offline channel. It’s time to lean into that common occurrence and use landing pages to create a beautiful browsing experience for your best on-demand content.

Overwatch League custom offline screen in computer browser

Landing pages give you the best of YouTube with a drag-and-drop editor that makes it easy for you to make changes on the fly. You can set up rows of content: spotlights, individual videos, playlists, and/or channels both to organize your content and to direct your audience to what you specifically want to showcase. Videos can be pulled in from any major streaming platform, so you can combine Twitch and YouTube VODs if that’s what works for you.

These pages are another great opportunity for unique branding with big image areas and prominent background graphics that give the page your own unique look and feel. Have partner streamers who you want to promote? You can easily embed their videos and show them some love, too.

Rally Your Audience With Social Media

Social media. You use it. We use it. And most importantly, your fans use it. Seems obvious, right? But the majority of live streamers aren’t leveraging social media to its full potential. When done right, social media can be a powerful tool for keeping view-count up and reaching new audiences.

For starters, never underestimate the power of a simple Tweet or Instagram post. You should be posting every time you go live. Every time. How else are the majority of your fans supposed to know you’re on-air? You’ll be accomplishing two tasks: 1.) Driving return-traffic from previous viewers, and 2.) Raising awareness of your streams among your larger social communities – potentially bringing in new viewers. Just make sure to drop a link to your channel for easy access. And consider using dedicated social media graphics to promote and announce your broadcasts.

Colorful mix of panels calling out social media accounts

Now here’s the kicker; the reverse is also true. You can (and should) be promoting your social media presence on-stream, driving new followers back to your social accounts. For example, perhaps Viewer X didn’t know you had a Twitter? Well, all you need to do is create an overlay displaying your Twitter handle – or use a clickable social call-to-action – and Viewer X knows exactly where to find you. It’s an easy tool for boosting your social following, which can be used for any platform from Facebook to YouTube to TikTok to SoundCloud.

Ready to unleash the full potential of your social presence? Our team at Visuals by Impulse have your back. Whether it’s custom call-to-action overlays or ‘going live’ graphics, we’re your one-stop-shop for all things social media design. Reach out today and see what we’re capable of.

Wrapping Up

So there you have it. Eight tried-and-tested solutions for retaining a live-stream audience. To review:

  • Use contests to reward participation
  • Create engaging stream overlays
  • Use analytics to optimize content for your audience
  • Encourage interaction with stream alerts
  • Leverage leaderboards to build community
  • Put on a show with animated displays
  • Set up landing pages while you’re offline
  • Rally your audience with social media
Jordan Fisher smiles in red beanie after stream donation

COVID-19 may have shut down your main stage, but it doesn’t mean the show has to end. If you can master the tips in this article, you’ll be back in front of the crowds in no time. And this show never sells out. Who knows, once the Coronavirus pandemic dies down, you may even want to continue your streaming journey. If so, your friends at Maestro and Visuals by Impulse have your back.

Want to get your hands on Maestro’s interactive video platform? Contact them here. Ready to commission the design pros at Visuals by Impulse? Reach out to our team today!