Ross Brand is an old school radio broadcaster who was one of the first people to embrace LIVE broadcasting on the web. His work is now featured internationally, and he will be main speaker at Summit.Live in February 2017.
Ross and our CEO Darrell Stern share the same “Jersey Boy” heritage and have both been in broadcasting most of their adult lives.
Darrell sat down with Ross to talk about old school broadcasting techniques and how they apply to the new world of Facebook LIVE broadcasting.
Hey, this is Darrell Stern, CEO of Stern Inbound Marketing, and creator of Stern Storming, a very unique way to get at the why of your business and market your business through the emotional benefit of what you do, not just the features. My guest today on our Stern Inbound Marketing blog is the amazing Ross Brand. We’re going to jump right into this because Ross goes back to the radio broadcasting days, and it’s really funny to me that here we are, saying … People are saying, “How to broadcast, how to broadcast … “
Two things I want to talk with you about. One, broadcasters don’t seem to be jumping into this, which is funny. Also, people are not understanding just because you can broadcast … We can now click the button and broadcast. It doesn’t mean that you should just be broadcasting.
Ross: Right. Yeah, it seems like about 95 percent of the people who found livestreaming, once it took off with Meerkat, and Periscope, and Blab, and now into all different … Facebook Live and everything else. It seems like most people came from social media. Livestreaming is a combination of broadcasting and social media. The social media side’s nicely covered, and how to use it in social media, but how to actually broadcast, how to actually produce interesting content, how to promote that content, how to retain a viewer over time, or a listener, and all that still needs some developing.
That’s what I enjoy, which is helping people with that aspect of it. How do we do a show? How do we have content that’s engaging, not just momentarily, but can have a life on after the broadcast then, so it’s interesting for somebody to watch six months from now on a replay, or a year from now, where you can take pieces of it, and repurpose. It’s funny that it’s missed by a lot of people, but this is what social media marketers and bloggers talk about, evergreen content. You can cover the news, you can cover up-to-date things on livestreaming, but there’s always going to be pieces of a broadcast, if it’s done right, that have a hook that’s evergreen and can live on beyond the life of that live broadcast.
Darrell: You literally decided, “Okay, now I can broadcast live on Facebook, I’m going to make a Facebook page called Livestreaming Universe, right?
Ross: Actually, I did that long before Facebook allowed you to broadcast live.
Darrell: Before anyone else even allowed you to do anything to this- [crosstalk 02:53]
Ross: It obviously didn’t take off until I started actually putting up video content on the Facebook page, and then it … It’s been great since then. It’s wonderful having a Facebook page, and a home where you can put your videos, both recorded and live.
By the way, there’s still a place … We all talk about live all the time, but there’s definitely a place for recorded videos, as well, outside of YouTube, on places like Facebook, Instagram, and other places.
I always tell people, you know, look at musicians, right? Very rarely is some artist’s best work, their live album- [crosstalk 03:35] Generally, that’s a souvenir from a tour, or a moment in time, right? While there’s certain content that lends itself to live, if you’re doing a one-minute update on something, or a two-minute tease about something, or whatever, there’s no time for what makes live video special, which is the interaction with your audience. Why not produce it and make it as tight, and as short, and as visually pleasing to the eye as you can. If you start to talk too much, or it starts to go too long, you go, “Scratch that. Let me redo it,” and let me have something that’s really punchy, and short, and nicely produced, and represent your brand and yourself well for that short-form content.
Live is great because of the engagement, and what makes live video special, even to people who’ve been in broadcasting, is that instantaneous feedback. It’s no longer like you can sit in a room by yourself, and talk about what you want, and maybe somebody calls in or whatever. Now, you’ve got this ongoing chat. I’ve talked to people who’ve been doing livestreaming for a while, and they say they couldn’t imagine broadcasting without a live audience, without people to interact to, and ask them questions. No matter what the topic is, and how much we may feel we’re prepared, or we know about it, we can’t know everything about everything, so there’s always somebody in that chat that knows something about my guest, or the topic, or whatever. You just get the best … It’s like crowdsourcing the content while you’re live. It’s amazing.
Darrell: The great sitcoms, the great talk shows, the great broadcasts have been live, with a studio audience. They had that living effect of theater, where people could then actually interact, and respond. You get that emotional energy of how … You could also sense from the live audience how this is going. Is this working? Is there feedback, either through [crosstalk 05:41] comments, applause, whatever that kind of thing is.
This all seems to now be falling into place, but as you say, it’s important to … Let’s sculpt this a bit. Let’s produce it a bit. Let’s think about why this broadcast … Also, you spend a lot of time in the technology, too. You use OBS — open broadcast software — and you have a format to it. It’s split screen. You use [Be Live 06:04], right?
Darrell: I’ve seen them-
Ross: I can switch the shots all along as I’m going along, and do different things with Wirecast. You’ve got to use the right tool for the right project. While Wirecast is more sophisticated and does more than a tool like Be Live TV does … Be Live gets you that instant feedback with the Facebook comments right within your interface, and like you said, you know if the comments start slowing down, you say, “Okay, maybe we stayed on this topic a little too long,” or, “Maybe the other three things that I could talk about, about this, will get people more engaged. As they get more engaged, it becomes a conversation and not a one-to-man broadcast, as it could be, or just an interview with two people talking, and nobody else really listening to what they’re saying.
Darrell: Right, exactly. We could combine that with a little bit of marketing spin and a little bit of business sense, and add, for instance, a link to go buy a product, text in there that says where to call the person if you’re interested in something. No, we’re not going on to pitch anything, we’re demonstrating some product, we’re showing something, we’re giving value, we’re showing something useful, but also, guess what? Yeah, let’s make sure that there’s that call to action, that it’s crystal clear.
Hey, if I’m excited about this, they’re talking about this new product or something, boom, I mean this is [crosstalk 07:38] right there. Bam, I can go there. I can buy it. I can click the consultation link, we wanted to start doing consultations with people or whatever it is. Then all of it is thought through with that broadcasting, engineering, and marketing engineering. There’s a measurable ROI, and we can see, okay–show, and people have signed up. People have bought the product. People have signed up for whatever it is — consultations, or coaching, or whatever it is.
Ross: I love that you mentioned putting the phone number in, because have you ever heard a radio ad where they didn’t mention the phone number five times in the ad, or at least close mentioning it a couple times-
Darrell: They always do.
Ross: – so it’s in your head. The great thing about live video is you can put it right in the post, and you don’t even have to mention it, and do that harder sell thing. You just put it right in the post. I know that’s something I haven’t thought of doing, and I know it’s something-
Darrell: In other words, you’re saying I thought of it, right? I’m just kidding.
Ross: Yeah, you invented it-
Darrell: That’s what we were talking about earlier. We talked-
Ross: A lot of people feel like you don’t put phone numbers in-
Darrell: Right, you don’t put the phone number … I’m not going to … You’re on a mobile phone, right? This is what we’re talking about.
Darrell: You’re on a mobile phone, and you put a phone number on a single line in a Facebook post, and you click on that, on your phone, because you’re talking about mobile, guess what, it’ll dial the number. What if we did a telethon. I don’t know, you know what I’m saying? What if live broadcasting went to telethon, where they would have the link to the 1-800 number to go donate to a charity.
Darrell: There you go. We’re brainstorming right here, live in- [crosstalk 09:09]
Ross: That’s a great idea.
Darrell: There you go.
Ross: That’s one way to get people to call in is actually make it easy for them.
Darrell: Make it easy. Yeah, there’s a book out about website usability from years ago, called, Don’t Make Me Think. ] is a bit confusing. everybody is, “Yes, we had a broadcast, we had a [McMedia 09:28]” and da-da-da-da-da … Engineering wise, sales, marketing, all wise, we’ve got to put some engineering into it, and you are brilliant at the engineering of the content of the show, actually putting together how a great interview can be promoting it. You’ve done a great job of saying … The memes, the pictures you create are like … “Coming up next, this next week, we’re gonna …” You’ve been building this momentum, and now you’ve got people all over the world you’ve interviewed. I want to ask you one final question. Out of all these interviews, who has been the one that you just went, “Wow! This just really put me over the edge. This is really, really something that I hadn’t heard before”?
Ross: Wow, you know, every interview has been unique, and I’ve learned something from every person I’ve spoken to. Every person’s come to livestreaming from a different business and a different background and a different model. I’ve learned from all my guests, and I can’t necessarily pick one over the other. I will say that the most enjoyable experience, because of the circumstances, was when Blab was on its way out … I got off the sinking ship before it actually sunk, and went to Firetalk.
When I did my first show on Firetalk, I had trouble getting my guest on, and it actually was something on his end, but I wasn’t sure. The first thought is what do you do? I said, “Well, ya know what? Why don’t I just stay on the air and hopefully it’ll work out.” I ended up staying on for 45 minutes just doing basically a Q&A with the people in the chat who all hung around, and I brought one of the people in and started interviewing her about her performing arts background, and all that, and then eventually, the technology worked itself out, and we went on with the show and everything else.
One of the fun things in radio is sometimes that fly by the seat of your pants. The news is breaking. What do you- [crosstalk 11:32] challenges you, and it breaks your routine. Obviously, doing one-on-one interviews is a fairly safe, I feel, format, but being … That was the first time in livestreaming that I felt really out there in a ship without an engine, or a way to steer it, or whatever.
I’m trying now to do more just impromptu Q&A chat with people things that don’t need a structure, or don’t need to be promoted, or don’t need to be repurposed. I think too many people make that kind of broadcast the centerpiece of their content, and it can’t be, because it doesn’t have a life beyond it. If you can find ways to just give people a little bit of yourself, and enjoy yourself, and communicate with people like that, it puts that much more into your structured content, because it makes it stand out that you can do different things with content. You can relate to people in different settings, and you can help people, either one-on-one, answering their questions, and doing interviews, or you can help by just building community, by being there and showing up from time to time, and letting people know that you’re just there to chat. There’s not always an agenda.
Ross: I think having a mix of content now, and that’s my goal for 2017 is to diversity what I’m doing. Not everything has to be desktop interview-structured show. I still think for people who want to use this platform to promote their business, or build a personal brand, or whatever, it is having some structure and some idea what you want to do, and a few topics to hit, and how you promote it, and how you tease what’s coming up, so if the person isn’t interested in their first topic you’re talking about …
A lot of people think you just go on with one idea. Actually, you break it down into a few parts. I may not be interested in hearing about your childhood, but I may be very interested in hearing about what you did when you were in your teens or in your 20s, or I may be very interested in what you’re planning to do next year. You have to remind people that that’s coming up. “You might not be interested in this segment, but don’t go anywhere, because in a minute, Darrell Stern’s gonna join us, and we’re gonna talk about SEO.”
Darrell: Exactly, exactly.
Ross: That’s where you can bring in some of the art of broadcasting that adds to what you know about social media, and online engagement, and things like that to keep people involved, and to make your broadcast more of an event that people will want to tune in and don’t miss. Have certain repeatable elements. You have a theme that you opened. You have theme music. You open with … Things like that just signals you. “Okay, we’re back at our favorite place again. We’re listening to Darrell, and his interview.”
Darrell: Hey, so, Ross, tell everybody how to get in touch with you, and how to join your show, and what your amazing live broadcast.
Ross: Sure, thanks, Darrell. You can find me at livestreamuniverse.com, livestreamuniverse.com, and the shows always go on Facebook first, so definitely like our Facebook page, Facebook.com/livestreamuniverse, or just go to RossBrand.live. That’s sometimes easier to remember — my name … RossBrand.live. That’ll take you to the Facebook page. You can check out our videos. You can see our live shows, all that good stuff.
Darrell: Awesome, Ross. Thank you so much, and I look forward … We’re going to be working on a lot of exciting things coming up in the future. I can’t wait to be on your show in a couple months. You’re the best.
Ross: Thank you so much for having me, Darrell. This is a joy talking with you.
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