Have you ever wished you could just sit down with your audience for a quick chat?

Live streaming offers followers something that other outlets don’t: a chance to experience a brand in real-time. The sense of personal connection between follower and brand over a livestream is unmatched by other forms of social media.

Livestreaming can be used for business in a number of ways, but is uniquely suited to Q&A’s. A Q&A is the closest thing to a conversation in the social media space – a host answers questions asked by followers. Questions are usually asked by texts and answered by the host via video.

Inviting followers to ask questions as you live stream uniquely provides them with personalized answers and a true sense of personal connection. Interacting in real-time also provides an enormous amount of feedback, as people directly express what kind of information they are looking for from you.

A Q&A on a livestreaming platform can be especially useful in a couple scenarios. If you are between large announcements, this less formal way of touching base with your audience can give them the engagement they need without drawing attention away from more important news. Q&A’s are also a much cheaper alternative to webinars and other live, virtual events in both time and money. So if you’re strapped on either, you now have an alternative to a costly and planning intensive webinar.

Follow these seven steps for a successful Q&A on any livestreaming platform:

Pick the right host

Choosing the right host depends on two factors: their notoriety, and their ability to answer questions posed by followers. A more notable person connected to your brand can be a great candidate for a host since they may attract more interest to the broadcast. Of course, make sure they’ll be able to handle what the followers have to ask them.

Find a time of broadcast that works for your audience

There will be times when your audience will be most likely to tune into a broadcast. Find the times of peak social media use by your followers – and schedule your broadcast accordingly. You can use tools like SimplyMeasured to learn about when you get the most visits to your social media channels.

Promote your Q&A on social

The first step to promote your Q&A is to make an easy, memorable hashtag. This way, you can track the conversation surrounding the Q&A and any followers who can’t tune in will be able to engage with the event. Secondly, promote your Q&A across all of your social channels, using the hashtag. You should do this at least one or two days beforehand and then again one or two hours before the broadcast.

Rehearse answers to common questions beforehand

Browse your social channels to find common questions that your followers are asking. Additionally, take note of any big announcements for your brand on the horizon. Is there a major product release approaching? You can anticipate questions followers may have from that. Once you have a list of possible questions you may encounter in the Q&A, think of answers to them and share the questions and answers with your host. Live streaming is completely real-time, so your host will not have time to craft the polished answers you may need on the spot. Being prepared for common questions will set you and your host up for success.

Wait five minutes before beginning the Q&A

Do not start your Q&A exactly when scheduled – as counterintuitive as that may sound. Allow time for followers to arrive fashionably late for about five minutes into the broadcast. During this time, focus the camera on something related to the topic of the upcoming Q&A such a poster or a relevant object near you. Greet guests by username as they enter, as this is an extremely easy way to make them feel included with very little risk.

Designate a moderator

During your broadcast, have a moderator if possible. This person will control the camera as well as read through the messages from followers. They will read out loud any questions that they think the host should answer. The moderator will “direct” the broadcast, ensuring that questions are appropriate, come at an even pace, and are as fitting for the goals of the Q&A as possible. This will give the host as much focus and time as possible to answer questions well.

Connect with followers after the broadcast

Before the end of the broadcast, thank the followers for viewing and encourage them to share what they thought of the event using the hashtag. If you are using Periscope, save the broadcast to the camera roll. The broadcast will then be available to watch for the next 24 hours.

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