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Interactive Live Stream: 5 Ways to Engage Your Viewers

immanuel vinikas headshot
Immanuel Vinikas
Updated April 1 2021
Just in time learning
immanuel vinikas headshot
Immanuel Vinikas
Updated April 1 2021

Live streaming is quite popular these days. The 2020 pandemic forced us to move our workshops, courses, webinars, and townhalls online, and we did so with great success. However, for many broadcasters and audiences, live streams present one major drawback. They lack the audience engagement and sense of community that their real-life counterparts naturally enabled. In this article, we’ll show you how you can reverse this drawback and engage your audience with an interactive live stream.

 

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What Is Interactive Live Stream?

An interactive live stream is a web-based live video event in which the viewer can influence, choose, or contribute to the content of the live stream. This live stream can be in the form of a virtual event, townhall, or webinar.

 

The idea is to keep your audience lean forward with regular opportunities for interaction, such as live chat, polls and quizzes, and interactive viewing paths. The success of a live stream depends on how your attendees engage with you, your brand, your product, and each other. Interactive live streams help keep your attendees active and engaged.

 

How Do You Create an Interactive Live Stream?

Live stream use cases such as virtual events, townhalls, and webinars surpass their brick-and-mortar counterparts in many ways, but they do present one major drawback. Events like classes, conferences, and fairs should foster interaction and connection. But live streams are attended passively by a home-based audience on their computer screens. This is a well-known issue and live broadcasting platforms such as Kaltura Townhalls and Live Events or Kaltura Virtual Events have worked out solutions to improve their engagement factor.

 

A second must to enable interactive live stream is low latency. Latency is the delay between the moment a subject is recorded on video and the moment that subject is displayed at the other end of the live stream on the viewer’s device. Online video latency is caused by many factors that slow down the stream, such as video encoding, CDN buffering, connection speed, and bandwidth. This latency is usually between 1 and 20 seconds depending on all these factors involved. Low latency is sub-5 seconds. To enable interactivity in your live stream —in essence, viewers are interacting with the content and with each other in a natural way and pace— ideally, the latency of your video stream should near real-time as much as possible.

Using interactive elements in your next live stream

Ideally, your live streaming platform should have a suite of features that lets you freely choose how to make your event interactive. Creativity is key here. For example, some of the most successful virtual events in 2020 applied interactive live stream features to emulate the look and feel of a real-life event, while others took a whole different direction with their interactive live stream and wowed their audience with the innovative possibilities of digital.

 

The first approach of mimicking a real-life event delivers a familiar experience to the attendees, making it convenient and enabling viewers to focus on the content, without any distraction. SBC Digital Summit followed this route for their 2020 edition with great success. The second approach brings the attendees a unique and memorable experience. For instance, Belgian techno music festival Tomorrowland left no stone unturned to embrace the limits of technology and bring their audience an immersive and unique festival experience.

 

Let’s look at the 5 most popular interactive functions that boost attendee engagement during live streams.

 

  1. Dynamic Home Page

Your home page is the point of entry for your audience and will set the scene for your virtual event. Making it a dynamic page will keep your viewers engaged with different content each time they access the page. The different content can be triggered according to time of day, user interaction, and a host of other factors.

 

  1. Live Chat

A live chat is an absolute must for your interactive live stream. It will allow the audience to ask questions and react to the content, without interrupting. Have an assistant follow the chat for the most pertinent questions and address these in the Q&A at the end of the session, or even during the session if that makes sense. A chat box could also be the main focal point of a public networking section in your event, where attendees can come and interact with hosts, sponsors, or each other.

 

  1. Private Messaging

A private messaging function lets you get up close and personal with your attendees, individually. Enabling your viewers to PM you before or after the live stream will help them connect with you and your brand. You’ll be able to give your attendees a highly personal experience of your brand or product.

 

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  1. Gamification and Rewards

It doesn’t have to be all work and no play. Add some fun to your audience’s experience with treasure hunts, emoticon-based reactions to the live session, and leaderboards. These tools will keep your audience attentive to your content in a playful way.

 

  1. Polls and Quizzes

Similar to gamification, polls and quizzes let you mix up your event while staying on topic. You can use quizzes for good fun or test your audience’s knowledge. With polls, you can illustrate your point by evaluating the division of the audience on a certain topic or question. Both polls and quizzes are very easy to set up and pull up during your live stream presentation.

 

Interactive Live Stream Example

 

From Live to VOD: How to Make Your Video Interactive

It would be a shame if your live stream just disappeared after the event. It’s always good practice to repurpose your live stream content as a VOD (Video On Demand) that you can offer to your users as part of a blog post, on your social media, or as marketing collateral.

 

The better live stream platforms like Kaltura let you convert your live stream to VOD with additional editing features. You can enrich your video with chaptering, captions, and translations. Kaltura also offers more advanced interactivity features, such as hotspots and interactive viewing paths:

 

Hotspots

Hotspots are clickable objects that you can add to your video stream. Kind of like a link on a web page, hotspots take the viewer to a desired location: a web page, a form or pdf, or a shopping cart, for instance. In other words, they help you keep your audience engaged and guide them to calls-to-action, additional information, or conversion.

 

 

Interactive Viewing Paths

Interactive viewing paths let the viewer decide which direction the video content will take. The amazing part is that creating these interactive viewing paths is as easy as ‘drag-and-drop’. No technical computer skills are required. Adding interactive viewing paths can provide you with valuable insights, too. You can track and analyze user preferences and progress by following the choices they make in your video. Click the video on the left to see Kaltura Interactive Video Paths in action.

 

Top 3 Interactive Live Stream Solutions

  1. Kaltura

Whether you’re setting up a virtual event or a live webcast, Kaltura offers a powerful live-streaming solution. The advanced technology under Kaltura’s hood ensures a reliable stream that is scalable to events with a six figures attendee count. Open source at heart, Kaltura offers a highly customizable and flexible solution for enterprise live streaming. You can also take advantage of Kaltura’s white glove production services for an end-to-end support of your live-stream event.

 

Kaltura is a feature-rich platform with tools to enable any video use case: video editing and enrichment, monetization, real-time analytics, SSO-based user permission management, top-tier security features, and much more.

 

Keep your attendees leaning forward with opportunities to interact with your live stream and each other. From dynamic home pages to polls and quizzes, Kaltura offers all the interactivity features listed in this article, and then some.

 

  1. IBM Cloud Video

IBM Cloud Video is a great option for live broadcasting, with a reliable stream to large audiences. IBM’s key features for live streams include auto-recording and uploading, monetization, SSO user authorization, ABR support, and live analytics.

 

IBM Cloud Video is a bit more limited in interactive features, compared to Kaltura. They offer live interactive elements such as chat and video overlays, and also enable interactive video paths for VOD.

 

IBM Cloud Video also offers a fair amount of flexibility, such as white-label customization and API access, but that flexibility seems to be reserved for the highest price plan, as are streaming resolutions exceeding 720p.

 

  1. Brightcove

Brightcove has long-standing experience in the online video platform industry. Their main live stream features include adaptive bitrate streaming, monetization tools, SSO-based user permission management, solid security features, and detailed analytics.

 

Brightcove offers a good choice of tools to boost viewer engagement, with interactive elements such as CTAs, in-video purchases, chaptering, interactive video paths, and quizzes.

 

On the flipside, Brightcove comes with a steep learning curve and many features are reserved for custom-prized plans, such as monetization options, support, and —hold on to your hats— live streaming.

 

Summary

Video is the most engaging format in online marketing and enterprise communication. Scratch that. Interactive video is the most engaging format in online marketing and enterprise communication. Make sure to infuse some of that juice into your next live stream or VOD for optimal conversion or branding. If your live streaming platform doesn’t support interactive video elements, then it’s time to upgrade to a better live streaming solution. Let yourself be convinced with a no-strings-attached trial.

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