Q&A With the Experts – Tawana Browne-Smith talks Live Streaming

Q&A With the Experts – Tawana Browne-Smith talks Live Streaming

There’s no getting around it, live streaming on social media is here to stay. While not a new thing, it’s really in the past year that live social media has taken off with the likes of Periscope (who were bought by Twitter) being joined by Facebook Live and soon YouTube as well. Now all you need to be a live television star is a smart phone and an internet connection.

In the first of a series of interviews looking at the latest trends in blogging, influencers and social media, we speak to Tawanna Browne-Smith, live streaming expert, marketing consultant and editor of Mom’s Guide to Travel.com.

Can you tell us who you are and where you’re from?

My name is Tawanna Browne Smith. I’m originally from Brooklyn, NY but now reside in Maryland. I am a travel and online marketer as well as Director of Brand Partnerships for Storyset.

You focus on live streaming, what do you talk/broadcast about? 

My live stream broadcasts focus on travel, online business building and social media. I show viewers around the Maryland/DC area (or wherever I’m traveling) every Thursday at 12:30 pm EST. On other days of the week I live stream about digital marketing and social media.

Out of the various platforms, which one(s) do you focus on?

Currently my focus is on Periscope. It’s the first platform where I started live streaming and the only one thus far where I’ve gotten a return on my time as far as converting viewers to customers. That being said, I see myself adding Facebook to my content mix. The user base on Facebook trumps that of Periscope/Twitter and the amount of money in which the company is investing into improving the technology is quite impressive. I don’t think these factors should be ignored.

Why do you think brands should be getting into live streaming?

Live streaming has several use cases for brands. First, it is an inexpensive point of entry into video for brands that have been looking to add video to their marketing mix.

The medium allows potential customers to engage with brands, ask questions, provide product feedback, and generally, get to know brands on a deeper level. I think that live streaming provides a unique opportunity to speed up the know, like and trust cycle which helps turn potential customers into actual customers.

Why should brands work with people like you, as well as or instead of doing their own broadcasts?

As with any other form of content creation, I think it is important for brands to have a solid mix of brand content and user-generated content. Utilizing qualified contributors helps with the latter.

I, personally have a background as an actress. That type of on-camera experience can be invaluable for a brand that’s struggling to find an employee who can present well enough.

The faster path for a brand to successfully integrate live streaming into their marketing mix is to work with influencers who are already live streaming. Brands will not only get experienced broadcasters but they will also have the opportunity to leverage the live streamer’s existing audience.

Fortunately, it’s easy for a brand to qualify a potential live stream partner. All they need to do is watch their broadcasts.

When you broadcast, do you script what you talk about?

No, I do not script everything. Live streaming shouldn’t be approached like a webinar or other formal presentation. People want ongoing interaction and when you’re scripted this makes it challenging to “stay loose.” I work from a general outline so that I can stay on target with my main speaking points.

A lot of people worry about whether their content isn’t interesting enough for live streaming, what would you say to these people to encourage them to get in front of a camera?

You have to start somewhere. What may seem boring to you might be fascinating to someone else. You have to gauge what your viewers are interested in. Present a topic then ask them what other topics they might be interested in.

I think the way in which you present your content is just as important as the subject matter. You can have the most fascinating topic in the world but if you’re boring or don’t engage with people, no one is going to watch you.

Commit, practice and engage.

Are there ways to make ‘boring’ topics or discussions more interesting for the viewers?

Try to get an idea of what people want to watch. The best way to do that is to consider some of the questions that your followers/community/customers ask you and answer them on air. I guarantee you that hundreds of other people have those same questions.

You can talk about your topic in a nice setting instead of an unappealing room. Viewers like to see broadcasters out and about. They feel like they are truly hanging out with you. By doing this, you take some of the pressure off of yourself because you give the viewers something else to look at while you are discussing your topic. Try to be entertaining by telling a joke, sharing a story, asking the viewers a few questions. Make your broadcast a two-way conversation. 

Do you schedule your broadcasts, or just log on when you feel the time is right for it?

My local travel broadcast is a regularly scheduled weekly show on a network created specifically for Periscope. The network includes more than a dozen other Periscope broadcasters. For my personal channel, I log on daily at a time that is convenient for me.

 How do you feel live streaming competes with, or compliments other social channels or traditional media?

I think live streaming helps bring other media to life. I use it to not only complement written text by integrating my saved videos into blog posts but also to her ideas for new content.

What would be your three biggest tips for growing your audience?

Market when you will be broadcasting by cross promoting on your other platforms and through your newsletter.

Watch other broadcasts, engage, answer questions and create relationships. People will follow you if you are helpful and authentic.

Be consistent with your schedule when you first start out. Let people know what day and time to expect you. In the beginning, broadcasting daily is advisable to quickly and steadily grow your audience. Broadcasters who come on multiple times a day, daily, grow their followings much faster than those who broadcast sporadically.

What does the future hold for live streaming, over the next two years?

Over the next two years, I think we’re going to see live streaming become more mainstream. It will also be better supported by analytics tools because users will demand more insight.I think we will see some of the upstarts that are currently in the market dissipate as the Big 3 (Facebook, Twitter and YouTube) matures. More people are picking up their cameras and taking the plunge to do live videos so we’ll probably see more third-party applications emerging to support the market. Overall, live streaming will continue to grow as sports events, networks and news stations ink bigger deals with the Big 3. We’ll also see influencer marketing agencies emerge specifically for live streaming personalities. I see it becoming its own industry akin to blogging. It’s a fast paced and exciting environment. I can’t wait to see what new developments unfold in the near future.

Tawanna has her hands full as the Director of Partnerships for Storyset.net, a travel influencer marketing agency and Managing Director of MGT Travel Media, a digital and live stream marketing site for small business owners. She is also the owner of Mom’s Guide to Travel, a travel website and blog where she coordinates mom getaways and plans family travel itineraries.

Born in North London, Michael grew up travelling, living in the UK, Thailand, Malaysia and Australia. Between 2009 and 2010 he lived in Sydney and was part of the original group who formed the Travel Massive networking events and founded the London meet up on his return home. Since then he co founded Traverse Events, holding annual travel blogger conferences in the UK, as well as Blogstock, the world’s first Bloggers' festival. Michael lives and works in London, working in social media, marketing and events, mainly for the travel industry as well as writing for several online and print publications on a regular basis. More information on the work Michael does can be found here.

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