Live streaming is huge right now. It’s one of the fastest-growing technologies in the world and, as evidenced by the rapid rise of TikTok, Twitch, Facebook Live, and YouTube Live, it’s something that transcends all demographics and interests, from young gamers to older professionals.
Alex Khuda knows this all too well, as he is the CEO of Restream, an industry-leading live streaming platform.
Restream has over 2 million users and hosts 6 million monthly broadcasts, generating an impressive 800 million views. These streams are delivered to more than 30 platforms simultaneously, making Restream a complete solution for all types of streamers.
Khuda co-founded the company back in 2014, when he sensed the potential of live streaming and realized it had huge potential for growth. Since 2014, live streaming has grown considerably and realized some of that potential, but it’s not showing any signs of slowing down.
In fact, it’s still in its infancy, and there is so much more to come.
In 2020 alone, we’ve seen numerous major live streaming platforms invest millions into launching and promoting their programs. Exclusive contracts have been signed with the biggest streamers to keep them locked in place, and everyone seems to be getting a piece of the action.
Which Businesses Can Benefit From Live Streaming?
The COVID-19 pandemic has defined 2020. It is the era of the unprecedented, the unexpected, and it will likely change our lives forever. But, as discussed in a recent interview with master investor Matt Higgins, not all of those changes are negative.
The live streaming sector has witnessed exponential growth during this time, because it has provided a lot of solutions to the problems caused by COVID-19.
For instance, many concerts have been canceled or postponed, and indoor sporting events have gone the same way.
But these events can’t just shut down completely. Organizers and participants need to get paid; audiences need their fix of entertainment.
As a result, many of these events moved online.
We’ve also seen an influx of interviews, much like the ones I film every week here on This Week with Sabir.
In recent weeks, there has been a trend for cast reunions from classic films like Scott Pilgrim vs the World and The Goonies, while late-night chat shows and news channels have moved their interviews to live streaming platforms.
In a pre-COVID-19 world, none of this really made sense. Why would Jimmy Fallon broadcast a live stream interview with Tom Hanks when he can just invite the Hollywood legend into the studio?
Sure, it makes life easier for The Castaway star, who doesn’t have to travel and endure hours of make-up and rehearsals, but it doesn’t make sense in the context of a live studio audience.
In the middle of a pandemic, however, it’s the only way to keep the wheels turning, and producers are quickly realizing that, when done right, it often works just as well.
Live streams are even being used by restaurants and other establishments that have remained open during these turbulent times. It provides consumers with a window into how these businesses operate.
A restaurant can go to great lengths to keep their customers safe, but if those customers can’t see it for themselves, they’ll continue to stay away, choosing the “better safe than sorry” approach. But by introducing live streams, these businesses can prove that they’re not all talk.
It provides a level of transparency, honesty, and accountability that is so often lost in the e-commerce and hospitality industries. It’s something that consumers have come to appreciate, and when the pandemic finally fades away, it’s something they will continue to expect.
It’s not just about COVID compromises, either. In some industries, live streaming provides opportunities where there were none. It helps to create a connection between the intended customer and the business, and it’s great for building a brand.
As an example, many film companies are using this technology to connect with their customers and get them excited for an upcoming film release.
Imagine how much more excited you would be for an upcoming sequel to your favorite film if it was preceded by a Q and A with the director, lead actor, or writer.
It’s a tactic that’s also being used in the gaming industry.
For many years, gamers have been frustrated by releases that talk a good game but rarely deliver on those promises. Recent releases like Fallout 76 and No Man’s Sky were trashed upon release because the trailers, pre-release promotions, and teasers weren’t a good representation of the final product.
With a live stream, a game developer can sit the customer down in front of an Alpha release and show them the game in real-time. They don’t need to spend millions on glossy trailers and garish events. They just need a developer/tester, a camera, and a live streaming program like Restream.
This transparency and honesty is one of the main reasons live streaming is so popular right now.
It’s also one of the reasons YouTuber stars and Twitch streamers develop closer connections to their fans than the average A-list celebrity. The latter only show themselves in Photoshopped Instagram snaps, carefully considered Twitter posts, and highly produced videos. The former show everything, warts and all, allowing the viewer more of an insight into their real personality.
What Are The Benefits Of Live Streaming For Your Brand?
The benefits of live streaming for a personal brand are obvious. You only need to look at the biggest stars of YouTube and Twitch to understand the power of streaming. But what about brands?
How can businesses benefit from hosting regular live streams?
1. It Saves Money
You can use live streaming to engage with your audience and your employees in a cheap and effective way.
Live streaming is cheaper than producing staff training videos. It just takes one prescheduled video to make sure everyone is on the same page, with no need to arrange meetings or cover travel costs.
If you have an event to host and are looking to save some cash, live stream it instead. Spectators will witness the same event, but they don’t need to travel, and you don’t need to provide for them.
2. It Increases Revenue
The less you spend, the higher your ROI will be, making live streaming a valuable tool to keep your business in the black.
Once you have built a dedicated audience, you’re always one cheap and easy stream away from marketing to them.
Give them quality content, keep them interested, and when you have built a strong brand, you can market exclusive products and offers toward them.
3. It Improves Audience Interaction
Big brands spend millions of dollars establishing a strong connection between company and consumer. They hire experienced social media teams and communicate directly with consumers as often as they can, making the consumer feel connected to the brand.
You can get the same benefits from a simple live stream. It also gives you a chance to tell your brand story and to learn directly from your customers.
The more disconnected you are from your customers, the more likely you are to make costly mistakes and to allow these mistakes to develop.
Do you think that New Coke would have existed in a world where millions of social media users can shout their displeasure from the rooftops the moment the first promo is launched? Do you think Crystal Pepsi would have failed so miserably if the brand had been able to announce its intentions directly to its target market?
Times have changed. These days, every customer has an opinion and expects their opinion to be heard, and a good company is always prepared to listen.
By creating regular live streams and speaking directly with your consumers, you can bounce ideas off them, discover what they like and don’t like, and avoid making any disastrous decisions.
4. It’s A Valuable Educational Resource
Informed customers are happy customers, and the easiest way to keep them informed is to host live streams showcasing how your products work and how customers can get more out of them.
Do you create and sell board games? Schedule a stream where you play these games with other members of staff. Do you sell a food or beverage product? Showcase the many ways that these foodstuffs can be used.
Experiment, educate, and entertain.
You still need to make your video entertaining and watchable, and you should also keep it short and punchy, but remember that the ultimate goal is to teach them something about your product and to make their life easier as a result.
5. It Can Build A Partner Brand
A good idea can turn a simple live stream into a massive revenue stream, with the stream eventually becoming bigger than the brand itself.
For example, if you have a business that makes and sells premium hot sauces, you can create a live cooking stream where you cook with these sauces and explore some unique, super-hot recipes.
Alternatively, you can go down the challenge route, inviting guests to taste super-heated foods in the style of Hot Ones. It’s content that people want to see, content that people will engage with, and content that is closely tied to your brand.
Tips On How To Get Started
What does it take to become one of those successful streamers generating hundreds of leads or building a strong personal brand? How can you earn your share of those 800 million views generated by Restream every single month?
It is a topic that I discussed extensively with Alex Khuda, tapping into his vast knowledge on this subject and extracting all the following gems:
1. Don’t Overthink
It’s easy to overthink something when you’re approaching it for the first time. You want to go in prepared, to make sure you do it right, and to give yourself every chance of success.
Countless new streamers, just like many video creators before them, spend a small fortune on lights, cameras, computers, and microphones. They turn their living room or bedroom into a mini studio, and only then do they focus on what actually matters: the content.
But none of this is necessary.
While it’s true that no one wants to watch a video that sounds like it was filmed in 1990, the vast majority of your audience will not notice the difference between the microphone on your laptop/phone and a premium model that costs over $500.
In the beginning, you may be hosting a very small audience and it might remain this way for a long time. It’s much easier to motivate yourself to stream to a small audience if you haven’t spent several months’ rent on the equipment.
2. Sign Up And Prepare
While Restream will host your videos on multiple platforms, you still need to join these platforms individually.
Not only is this essential for using the Restream platform, but it will also allow you to steadily build your brand across all of these platforms, which is the main goal.
You should test your recording equipment and run some test streams. This is especially important if you’re new to streaming.
Record yourself, show your friends, and ask them for their honest opinions.
It will feel weird, and you might be embarrassed when you show them the videos, but that’s good. You need a bit of exposure therapy, as that’s the only way to get rid of that embarrassment and harden you up.
If you’re putting yourself out there on a regular basis, you’re going to see some unsavory comments and you will be heckled, so it helps to toughen up a little bit.
Consider asking a friend or colleague to watch your live streams, as well. Make sure you are in constant contact with them and that they can see your streams exactly how your viewers see them.
That way, if there is an issue that you can’t see, including audio, visual, and comment-related problems, they can tell you and save you the embarrassment of running an extended stream that no one can see!
3. Study Other Streams In Your Demographic
If you’re an avid watcher of live streams, this step will be easy. If not, it’s time to start watching some streams and studying your competitors.
What tricks are they using to increase engagement, what topics are they covering, and what makes their content unique?
Don’t be afraid to copy some of their ideas, but make sure you’re not stealing any copyrighted or trademarked content and don’t be too obvious about it.
It’s okay to take a general idea, run with it, and add your own spin, but it’s not okay to take their content and pass it off as your own.
The comments section can help you, as well. Read what regular viewers are saying, how they are responding to the content, and if they are making any suggestions to improve it.
The best directors are film fanatics; the best authors are avid readers, and the best streamers are the ones who know the industry like the back of their hand and have spent countless hours watching streams.
4. Find An Interesting Topic
According to Alex, content comes before anything else.
There’s no point spending thousands of dollars on marketing something that is hosted poorly and contains information that no one finds interesting. By the same token, spending a small fortune on equipment and props is just as much of a waste if the show is dull.
It all comes down to the quality of the content and the personality of the person hosting it.
Think about your favorite YouTubers for a moment. Why do you watch them? Is it because you were aggressively marketed their content and they have the best editing and the most stylish props, or is it because they have great personalities and interesting video ideas?
The most popular YouTubers on the entire platform often just sit in front of their computers and commentate on recent events and videos. It’s not flash, it’s not high-tech, and it doesn’t cost them a lot of money, but they have the ideas and the personality to pull it off.
And if you’re a little anxious in front of a camera, don’t worry—everyone feels that way to begin with.
This is something I discussed with Habib Salo, a man who built a powerful B2B empire off the back of YouTube videos and streams. He told me that he felt incredibly awkward in front of the camera and didn’t really know what to do with himself, but eventually, he settled into the role, and like countless successful YouTubers and presenters before him, it eventually becomes second-nature.
Sometimes, the host’s personality is everything, and the rest of the content makes itself.
The gaming industry is a prime example of this. Game developers invest millions of dollars into creating engaging games that have beautiful graphics.
To be a gaming streamer, you just need to load the game, open your stream, and start playing. If you’re playing the latest games or have some decent gaming skills, you’ll capture your audience’s attention, at least for a short while.
But this space is competitive. There are other streamers playing the same games, and to stand out, you need to show your value. It stops being about the mechanics or aesthetics of the game and starts being about how you engage with your viewers.
5. Entertain, Don’t Sell
Streaming should not be seen as a tool to advertise your latest products and promotions. No one wants to watch a 60-minute stream where you tell everyone how great your products are and promise a massive discount if they buy now.
That’s not entertainment, it’s an infomercial.
Your first goal is to be entertaining and increase engagement. Once you have built an audience and have plenty of eyes on your content, you can start incorporating brand messages in an organic and non-intrusive way.
6. Look For Something New
The rules of supply and demand apply as much to streaming as they do anything else.
We can use the gaming industry as an example. Everyone has videos on the latest FPS and sports games, as well as a seemingly endless succession of Battle Royale titles. These games have massive crowds more or less as soon as they hit the market.
The same applies to most AAA titles, and in the majority of cases, thanks to early access and review copies, there are already hundreds of streams before the game is officially released.
But what about the many indie games that all the big streamers are ignoring? These games still have a large following. Demand is high, supply is low, and that creates a gap in the market.
If you can find a game that no one else is playing, you can make it your thing.
Look for the niches that no one is covering, base your content on them, and you will be surprised at just how much interest you receive.
7. Invite Guests Who Add Value
There is one thing that all successful streamers and video content producers have in common: they understand the value of guests.
Also known as collaborations, a guest spot is when you invite someone else to your stream. It’s one of the easiest ways to boost your reach and it provides tremendous value, with benefits such as:
- Bigger Audience: When you bring a guest onto your show, you automatically appeal to their audience. The higher their profile, the greater their audience, and the more dedicated that audience is, the more benefits it provides. They will watch your streams and those streams will also show in search results when people are looking for content featuring your guest.
- More Variety: You expose your audience to more varied content when you invite someone onto your show. This allows you to tap into new markets and to target topics that may have otherwise seemed irrelevant.
- Less Work: Two heads are better than one. Interviewing someone is generally easier than talking to the camera by yourself, as your guest can take some of the focus away and provide some value.
- More Lucrative Connections: Networking is more valuable than ever and is essential for launching a personal brand and a business. As the saying goes, it’s not what you know, but who you know, and when you start inviting people to be on your stream, you’ll make useful connections that can boost your network and increase your chances of success.
- Useful Relationships: If you have 10,000 followers and you invite someone else with 10,000 followers to your stream, not only will they bring many of those viewers along for the ride, but you can return the favor at a later date. You’ll get more eyeballs on your stream by virtue of having a high-profile guest, and when you grow, they’ll be happy to invite you onto their stream, giving you even more traction.
8. Increase Engagement
Engagement is essential for your stream’s success.
It keeps your viewers interested and ensures they come back day after day and week after week. But it also gives your videos an algorithm boost, helping them to rank higher and increasing those all-important organic views.
So, how can you increase engagement?
The first step is to push for engagement during the video itself. And this doesn’t simply mean asking your viewers to “Like, Share, and Comment”. That phrase has become a little trite at this point, and no one is going to comment just because you asked them to.
Instead, giving them something to comment about.
Ask a question during your video. Give your viewers something to think about, ask for their opinion, and make it seem like you genuinely want to hear it and are not simply pushing for exposure.
Secondly, you need to engage with your commenters as often as you can.
Have you ever wondered why controversial topics seem to rank so highly on streaming platforms and why drama videos reigned supreme on YouTube for so many years?
It’s because these videos incite disagreeable comments. If you make a video calling a sports team trash and discussing your reasoning in clearly defined points, you’re going to get a lot of comments from people who agree and from people who don’t, and eventually, the two will clash.
When that happens, the comments will flow, with single users leaving several and even dozens of comments.
Of course, courting drama is a terrible idea if you’re building a personal or business brand, but you can encourage the same level of activity by engaging with as many commenters as you can.
Answer their questions, thank them for their comments, make jokes with them. The trick is to keep it original and honest. Don’t simply spam “thanks for your support!” under every comment. It might help with the algorithm, but it’s not going to encourage those commenters to continue the conversation.
If someone asks a question, answer them, pose a question of your own, and you’ll find that not only will they respond again, but many other commenters will get involved as well.
Finally, when you can, respond to the comments while you are live. This can buy you some time when you’re struggling for content or direction and it will also pad the length of your videos.
More importantly, it will reward the viewers who watch your videos live, thereby encouraging more viewers to watch live the next time around.
9. Get A Moderator
Once your stream begins to take off, you’ll need to monitor the chat and remove the endless procession of spam and obscenities that seem to swarm around every single piece of online content.
There are YouTube videos out there that have fewer than 100 viewers and have still managed to accumulate half a dozen spam comments promising “beautiful young ladies” in Eastern Europe.
Never underestimate the power of spam to ruin a good stream and make sure you are always prepared to deal with it.
In the beginning, you can delete these comments yourself, but when your channel grows, spammers will be attracted to it like moths to a flame. At that point, you may need to hire someone to deal with the procession of spam, because no one wants to interact with a comment section that is loaded with spam.
10. Be Consistent
Consistency is key with any kind of content, but it’s especially important for streams.
It’s better to stream once a week than to stream every 2 to 10 days when you have some free time. Don’t confuse your regular viewers. Give them a time, a date, and the knowledge that you will always be there streaming the content they’re used to.
The more you produce, the better, but that doesn’t mean you need to go all-out from day one. While daily videos can provide a huge boost to your personal brand or business, it can also be very tiring, especially in the beginning, when only a handful of people will be watching your streams.
To begin with, focus on a weekly stream and structure it in a way that is manageable. Once you get more viewers, you can think about streaming more content or producing longer streams. Not only will you have the viewers to make it worthwhile, but you may also be generating an ROI, making the extra effort more financially viable.
11. Choose Your Marketing Carefully
When you have an upcoming stream and need as many viewers as possible, it’s tempting to turn to Facebook Ads and to start spamming your ad to the cheapest markets. You can get thousands of viewers for less than $100, and it’s easy to convince yourself that you’ll have a few genuine viewers and potential customers/followers amongst them.
But nothing is ever that easy or cheap in the world of social media marketing.
If you want viewers that will engage with your videos, you need to pay, and they don’t come cheap. In the early days, you should ask yourself whether this expense is worth it, because most of the time, it’s not.
Rather than spending your money on endless Facebook Ads, consider investing in improving your content and your engagement. You can also use highly-targeted and relatively inexpensive Google Ads and YouTube Ads to put your video in front of people that are actually interested in hearing what you have to say.
To learn more about Google Ads, take a look at my interview with Isaac Rudansky, one of the foremost experts on this marketing platform.
It was the very first This Week With Sabir episode and contains a wealth of priceless gems concerning Google Ads.
12. Tags, Meta Data, And SEO
Once your recorded streams make it onto platforms like YouTube, they will be indexed by Google, which means they’ll show in search results and can be bolstered using some basic SEO tricks.
I discussed some of these tricks with SEO expert Neil Patel in a recent interview, but it all boils down to two key things: backlinks and content.
Backlinks are external links that point to your page and are as important for YouTube videos as they are for websites. One of the reasons viral videos achieve such rapid growth is because they are hosted on numerous news websites in a short space of time. This tells Google and YouTube that the video is important, and so they boost it up the rankings.
As for content, this all boils down to the description, the title, the tags, and the keywords. It’s also believed that the YouTube algorithm captures words spoken in videos and uses these to influence rankings. It’s possible, and it almost certainly uses this trick to monitor for certain words and to demonetize videos, but whether or not it impacts search rankings is still up for debate.
13. Start Now, Not Later
The most important tip of all is to stop procrastinating, stop insisting that you’ll start tomorrow, next week, or when you get that new laptop, phone, or microphone.
There is no time like the present, and the sooner you start, the sooner you can reap the benefits of having an active and popular live stream.
How many times have you hesitated over a new idea or direction? How many times have you gotten excited by something, only to pause, think, overthink, and then give up?
One of the biggest differences between people who struggle and people who succeed is that the latter are always willing to do what it takes. They don’t let indecision and hesitancy hold them back; they drop everything and start making big, positive changes.
There are millions of people out there who are thinking about starting a stream one day, whether because they want to be the next PewDiePie or because they want some publicity for their business. Only a very small percentage will actually make that commitment.
Not everyone succeeds. In fact, only a small minority will reach the heights of the world’s richest streamers. But you can’t win the lottery if you don’t buy a ticket, and success is not black and white.
There are many grey areas.
You may not get tens of thousands of live viewers, but you could get a few hundred highly-targeted viewers, and that could be enough to help your business. Alternatively, it could be the foundation you need to steadily launch your personal brand.
So, stop hesitating, stop doubting yourself, and stop putting things off. Visit Restream today and put those wheels in motion.
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This is an exclusive offer. You won’t find it anywhere else and once it’s over, it will be gone forever.
If that doesn’t incentivize you to join and start streaming, nothing will.
The $100,000 Question
As always, when my interview with Alex was drawing to a close, I posed the $100,000 question. I asked him for the single piece of advice he would give to aspiring streamers seeking to grow their earnings/ROI from $0 to $100,000.
Who better to answer a question like this than the CEO of one of the world’s biggest streaming platform?
He told me that the key was to remain persistent, to never give up.
It’s advice that many successful people give and it’s advice that most people don’t want to hear, but they give this advice because they know it works.
Alex experienced lots of rejection when he was trying to launch his career and that rejection eventually led him to Restream.
He’s not alone, either.
For every artist, author, actor, and rock star who made it big overnight, there are hundreds who got there by falling, getting up again, and persisting until they reached their goals.
It’s easy to look at your favorite streamers and to think that they had it easy. After all, how much strife could someone in their mid-20s or 30s possibly have experienced? Surely, they got to where they are out of sheer luck, and if you don’t reach the same heights within a few months, it’s clear that it’s not going to happen for you.
In actual fact, there is a story of great conflict and difficulty behind most successful streamers, from the ones who spent their days working their fingers to the bone just so they could provide content on an evening, to the ones who spent years producing content that no one watched.
It’s easy to feel disheartened when things don’t go your way, but the thing that separates the average person from a successful person is not luck. It’s not about being in the right place at the right time. It’s about determination, hard work, and persistence.
Understand your audience, appreciate your value, grow your brand, improve your content, and keep doing what you’re doing until it pays off. It may take months, it may take years, but if you’re doing it right, you will see a return on your investment eventually.
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About Our Guest: Alex Khuda
Alex is CEO and co-founder of Restream, one of the world’s largest distribution services for live video broadcasts. Alex has been an entrepreneur for the last 14 years. He founded a few e-commerce startups, and successfully exited one of them. Originally from Ukraine. Currently, he lives in Austin, Texas. Alex joined me on Wednesday, July 29, 2020, and shared $100k+ Insights with live streaming for your business and personal brand. His platform, Restream.io, is used multi-million viewers per month who tune in LIVE and live shows produced by multiple millions of hosts each month.