YouTube and Facebook live chats can be hard to engage with successfully in a repeatable way. Here are some tips and tricks to help you become a successful and engaging moderator.
Ask Open-Ended Questions
On live-chat, it is super tempting to make a lot of statements, but the reality is, people are much less likely to engage with pure statements. When I worked at Apple retail for nine months back in 2002, one of the training parts that stuck out the most was identifying customer wants and needs. We did this by formulating open-ended questions.
Open-ended questions are critical for stirring up interaction. For example, “Did you have breakfast today?” will pretty much bring out a yes or no response. Instead, ask, “What did you have for breakfast?” Then wait. The tension that comes from silence will often draw others into the conversation.
If you ask only questions, that will be exhausting for users as well. I would say use a 60/40 ratio (questions/statements). More than half of your originating communications should be questions. There are no rules for interacting after someone answers a question as long as it is organic and conversational!
Wait for the Right Moment
If you have a script to work from, don’t get anxious to hit all the points. Great businesses, churches, and organizations will give you a hand with necessary items to relay to users – don’t shotgun them all at once. If you are chatting while a video is playing, wait for moments that tie into your pre-written points.
You can wait for moments that relate instead of filling a quota of communication. When it is time to use pre-written points, re-phrase them as needed to make them more organic. Even online, people have a radar for the inauthentic.
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It’s Okay to Be Silent
On chat and in conversations in real life, it takes guts to be quiet. Offering silence allows others to think and formulate their thoughts. Especially after asking an open-ended question, waiting can feel torturous, but it draws people out into the conversation.
If you are finding that people aren’t engaging, don’t force it by over-posting. I have seen this error many times – no one interacts, so the moderator keeps posting every two minutes. It is a turn-off to users to see a one-way conversation unfold. If no one engages, you can still post but slow your roll. In other words, mirror.
Mirroring Isn’t Just for Real Life.
If you aren’t familiar with the concept of mirroring in conversation, you should be. It is a powerful tool. Wikipedia says, “Mirroring is the behavior in which one person unconsciously imitates the gesture, speech pattern, or attitude of another.”
Bringing mirroring from your unconscious to your conscious state turns it into a tool. In short, meet people where they are – this is an effort to not be robotic. Look at sentence length, patterns, emoji usage, and tone (negative, positive, confident, meek) to help guide your reply level.
There is nothing wrong with leveling up the energy, just don’t go so far that users won’t come with you. A handy tool is a scale from one to ten. Rate where your users are and then meet them 1-2 points higher. If someone comes into your chat at a one and you hit them with a ten, it will be a turn-off, but engaging with them at a level three may lift their spirits and bring more out of them.
Imagine the Conversation
Imagine you are talking with these people IRL (in real life), face to face. It is a small shift but an important one. Imagining a real conversation will help you create organic moments of connection vs. moments that feel contrived. The digital experience can already feel impersonal so bringing your personality into it is a must!
Include Yourself in the Interaction
If you represent a brand or org, you still want to be you on a chat. Including your thoughts, ideas and opinions will open the door for others to interact. Remember, mirroring happens unconsciously for most of us, so participating as yourself will encourage others to join the conversation. Actively mirroring the energy in an interaction, and plussing it by one or two, will invite people into the conversation – they will follow your lead.
Address People by Name
As users interact, use their names if you can see them! There is no better way to personalize their experience than to address them directly. By doing this, you are saying, “I see you, and I am glad you are here.” There is also a type of person who sits on the sidelines watching the video and reading the chat who will want to engage when they see you are interacting so directly. It makes your brand feel personal, and who doesn’t like that!?
I know this sounds like your mom is dropping you off at soccer camp, but it is just true. If you aren’t having fun, no one else will either. Get into a light-hearted state of mind (unless you are moderating a funeral) and bring that energy to your interactions. Even online, we transmit our underlying state of mind when we communicate.
Here are some fun ways to lighten up before starting your sessions as a chat host:
- Put on your favorite upbeat tune and get moving for a few minutes first, aka dance like no one is watching.
- Listen to a few minutes of your favorite stand-up act, you know the one that gets you laughing every time.
- Watch a hilarious video – does a panda sneezing always get you smiling? Then give it a watch before you hop on to chat.
- Look at pictures of your favorite celebrities smiling and having a good time and smile back. It feels strange to try, but science shows getting a smile on your face can trick your brain into happiness – and seeing people you admire having fun may help get your smile going.
What are some other keys to being a great live-chat moderator and host? What are some pet-peeves you have when you are watching a live stream with real-time comments?