From Reddit AMAs (“Ask Me Anything”) to Periscope, live content is becoming an increasingly popular approach to interaction on the web. Nowadays, it seems every social media platform is making a play in this space. For authors, this can be a valuable (and relatively easy!) way to powerfully engage with readers and fans. Below is a quick roundup of a few opportunities for dipping your toe into the live content pool.
Reddit hosts these live chats on a regular basis, and they are defining features of the platform. (For those of you unfamiliar with Reddit, it’s a community built of topic-based comment threads or SubReddits. Pieces of content are up-voted into prominence or down-voted out of the conversation by the community itself.) There is a SubReddit for almost every subject under the sun. A Reddit AMA is a live conversation with just about anyone (a celebrity, a fly fisherman, an astronaut, etc.). AMA stands for “Ask Me Anything,” and they really mean that—if you sign up for a Reddit AMA, be prepared to answer a wide variety of questions that might seem ridiculous or off-topic. In that way, the AMA is meant to mimic real conversation as opposed to a formal interview. Some Reddit AMAs can absolutely explode with thousands of comments, and reviews or recaps can make their way into other media. Here’s a great article from Mashable with tips on how to run your own successful AMA.
Live chats are a vibrant part of the Twitter platform. Because it’s such a fast-moving social network, powered by news and flurries of conversation, Twitter can be a great spot for rallying people around a certain topic and raising awareness. Grab as many influencers/Twitter friends as you can, promote the chat a few days in advance, pick a hashtag to hold the conversation together, and go for it. You can also give participants the chance to win a copy of the book that inspired the chat, as a great participation driver. Here’s a must-read article on hosting Twitter chats.
The new popular kid on the block (and a better option than the SXSW darling Meerkat), Periscope is a Twitter-backed live video app. Download the app to your phone, connect it to Twitter, and the app allows you to stream live video right from a Tweet. Jimmy Fallon uses it to stream rehearsals for that night’s monologue, and real estate agents use it for broadcasting tours of for-sale homes. Periscope is especially appealing for authors who are already fans of Twitter. Authors have done things like show off their writing space or live-stream from a book event. Viewers can add comments and ask questions throughout the stream. If you’re interested in hosting a Periscope, start here.
Google Hangouts are the most valuable part of Google+ as a platform. Where Periscope works well for off-the-cuff peeks into your world, Google Hangouts are great for more formal settings—where you have a desktop computer and a great Internet connection. If you’re an author with a Google+ page, try using Google Hangouts to join book-club meetings or host Q&As with readers. Google Hangouts are the more formal “tune in” version of live content, and it can be quite a challenge to get people to sit down and watch longer live-streams. So think of Google Hangouts for big moments, when you’ll have promotional firepower at your disposal to get fans to join. Google has a comprehensive guide to Google Hangouts, which you can check out here.