When Facebook Live was released in 2016, influencers, artists, big brands, and publishers were the early adopters. Their path in using live videos was clear: They already have a huge following who are curious and have a hunger to see behind-the-scenes content.
Facebook’s first live video was of Mark showing their headquarters.
Dunkin Donuts did a live tour and showed behind the scenes for their customers.
Buzzfeed, known for its unique and fun video content, had a viral livestream of a watermelon.
For most businesses, the strategy was to go live weekly at a certain time each week. The strategy was to show up and eventually, your audience will show up. This is still true. As with any content strategy, you need to show up. Consistently. You need to commit to publishing content at a certain time each week.
But because of the pandemic, more and more businesses are producing live video content. Viewers are fatigued not just from all the live video content, but also from all the Zoom calls. There needs to be a better way of producing and consuming live video content.
From Zoom to Zoombie
During Halloween this year, I had an idea for a livestream. I was going to prank people with a zombie turning in my livestream complete with blood and guts. But I thought, “Umm. I could not produce this for the BeLive page. I need to produce a business-related video not something that will make people puke.”
I didn’t want to let go of the idea, so I wrote it as a screenplay instead. It led to a pilot script called Zoombie. It’s a TV series about a technologically-challenged used-car salesman who needs to survive his first remote work in the midst of what appears to be a zombie apocalypse.
This is also when I had the realization: What if businesses can take inspiration from Netflix?
Break Hearts Like Netflix
Netflix is notorious for producing series and canceling them because they are a profit-driven company. As a viewer, my heart breaks every time they cancel a beloved show. The two series that they canceled—which took me a long time to recover from—was DareDevil and Santa Clarita Diet. But as a marketer, I totally understand why they had to make those decisions.
Now, this leads me to the main point of my article: you can be Netflix, too.
You will commit to producing content for your audience, but you will promise your audience something unique. You will be both driven by creativity and numbers. And yes from time to time, you will break the hearts of your viewers.
Yes, you can go live weekly, but you can’t go live with the same content forever.
Here are a few steps that I think you can get inspiration from when producing your own live shows:
Do your research and plan.
In 2018, I had the very rare experience of going to Pixar’s headquarters. Yes, that’s right. I walked the halls of Pixar—the same halls that the animators of Toy Story were walking! Pixar has two main buildings: Pre-Production and Production.
Pre-production is where most of the research and planning happen. There are probably hundreds if not thousands of ideas that are produced there, but they don’t all make it to production.
You need to do the same. You don’t need two buildings, but you need to have two processes: Pre-production and Production.
Before committing to a topic and schedule, make sure to do your research first. What type of content do your customers consume? What kind of shows do they want? What has been a successful livestream in your industry? How can you put a new spin into it while making sure it speaks your brand?
Write all of your ideas down. Don’t shoot down any idea because it might be too hard to produce. After you’ve exhausted all of your ideas and have done your research, pick one idea or theme, and figure out which goes into production.
Write the “pilot script”
Now that you have one idea for a livestream, your next task is to write the pilot script. According to Wikipedia:
A television pilot is a standalone episode of a television series that is used to sell the show to a television network. At the time of its creation, the pilot is meant to be the testing ground to gauge whether a series will be successful.
When I wrote the pilot script for Zoombie, I had to think about how the story will evolve into one season even though it will never get produced. When you’re pitching your script to an agent or a studio, they need to see the vision of your series. Is it a thriller or a comedy? Who is the main character? What are the main plot points? They also look at how expensive to produce the series.
When you’re writing your own “pilot script” for your livestream, you need to follow the same structure. You need to:
- Think about the title.
- Decide on the format. Is it a live interview? A panel discussion. A live tour?
- Estimate the number of episodes and what the topic of each episode is.
- Understand the resources needed to produce it. Can you produce it by yourself, or do you need help?
Produce a pilot episode.
Use your pilot script to produce the first episode. Plus, prepare your success indicators. How will you know if this pilot episode is a success? Are you measuring it by the number of views? Or by the number of leads you get?
Or at this stage, you’re not measuring anything yet. That’s okay. It might be a test for you.
Did you like the process of producing a livestream? Which areas did you love? Maybe in the next iteration, you might want to delegate some of the tasks related to it.
Let your viewers know that this is a pilot episode, and they should share their feedback. You can even ask your audience to fill out a survey form.
Analyze the results.
After the pilot episode, take the time to gather all your data. Analyze your results. How many views did you get? What kind of feedback did you get from your viewers? How was your experience?
If a pilot gets picked up by a network like Netflix, they will order a certain number of episodes. You can do the same. If you think that the pilot episode is a success, start planning the next few episodes. Go back to your pilot script. Now, you can make each episode a reality. Estimate the time it will take to prepare. You can even make a trailer of the first season as a way to promote your first season.
Produce the entire season or go back to the drawing board.
If the pilot episode is not a success, go back to the first step. Look at all the other ideas that you think will be a hit with your customers. Now, decide on which pilot script to write next. You need to do this process until you find a pilot episode that will succeed based on your standards.
Start producing live shows like Netflix by signing up with BeLive now!