One of the best parts of live video is the ability to engage with your audience in realtime. Facebook and Periscope especially have put viewer comments front and center. Facebook even rolled out a private chat feature that allows viewers to have their own private conversation. But how do you use comments to your advantage? How can you ask your audience the “right” questions?


Here are some tips to leverage comments and provide value for everyone:


1. Ask Me Anything (AMA)

The most common use of Facebook Comments typically turns into a variation of Ask Me Anything (AMA). But the problem with this type of live commenting is that it can also be noisy and distracting.
AMA’s can be especially helpful for troubleshooting common technical problems shared by your audience. But they can also turn into a long string of feature requests and off topic comments. This often provides little value for new or prospective customers.
AMA’s are best suited for an educated audience that understands your product or service inside and out. When someone asks "What did you have for breakfast?" or "What is your favorite color?" that doesn’t provide much value for most viewers. Consider limiting AMA’s to private groups. Also monitor comments and encourage viewers to ask questions that drive the conversation and story forward.

2. The Art of Flipping the Comment

Flip the comments and ask YOUR viewers a question. This gives your broadcast a very focused topic. It also provides value for people that watch the replay later as all comments are around a common theme.
Start your broadcast by leading with a question. Let people respond with their answers throughout the stream.
You can even post your question on your Twitter or Facebook before going live. This helps build awareness and gives you a head start on content that you can use going into your broadcast.

Here are some examples of question you could use to start your broadcast:

  1. “How often do you visit our business?” or “How often do you use our services?”

  2. “How can we improve your experience?” or “How are you using our product?”

  3. “Do you like this (insert product A) or that (insert product B), and why? Let us know in the comments.”

3. Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

It’s good to be in control. We often encourage our users to put their cameras on tripods, get good audio and think about lighting. Taking the time to do these things makes your live videos more professional and easier to watch. But it’s also ok to shake things up and get out of your comfort zone. Giving your viewers a behind the scenes look or streaming on the go shows you are a real person. It also allows your audience to see a side of you that they aren’t used to experiencing. Consider doing a behind the scenes broadcast and use the comments to allow your viewers to “direct” the show.


“We are going on a tour of our office today. Who do you want to meet? What do you want to see?”


4. Crowdsource Questions for Interviews

Always be prepared and go into interviews with your own questions. But if you are doing an interview, don’t hesitate to lean into your audience and crowdsource questions. This allows them to participate in the process and feel like they are valued. Heck, they might even ask a question that wasn’t on your list.


“Today we are interviewing (insert customer name or expert). What questions do you want us to ask? Leave your questions in the comments below and we will pick some to ask on camera before we wrap the broadcast.”


5. This or That?

Present your audience with two products or services your business offers and let the comments take you from there. Depending on how your audience responds you’ll know if you are making the right decision. You might also find you need to make adjustments before releasing your new menu item or product feature. Asking your audience before making these types of changes in your business can save you a lot of money. It also tends to lead toward having much happier customers.


“We are thinking about adding this new menu item (insert item). What do you think?”


6. And the Winner Is

You can also use comments for giveaways and promotions. Give a prompt or ask a trivia question and first person to respond with the correct answer wins the prize! Just be sure to ask a question with a definitive objective answer. This will help keep your viewers from disputing the results. It also helps prevent trolls from taking the conversation and promotion in the wrong direction.


“Who was the second person to walk on the Moon?


7. Use Comments to Feature Users

Comments aren’t just for question and answers. Use your comments to encourage users to submit pictures, comments and information that allows you to learn more about what they are doing. In this way you can feature your users and make them feel like a part of your community.


“Today we are featuring YOU, our viewers. Send us pictures of you using our product in action”


When it’s over

90% of plays on a video typically happen on the replay after the broadcast has ended. Be sure to respond to all comments after your stream has ended. This allows you to keep the conversation going and helps build and grow your community. It also makes it easier for people that missed your broadcast to get some context. It's much easier to quickly find answers to questions in the comments than re-watching an entire streamCheck out this post on How to Get the Most Out of Facebook Live Comments for more information.
Next time you go live don't just react to comments - plan some questions to ask ahead of time and use comments to your advantage. I think you'll be surprised by what you will learn.

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