Lesson 2: Structure Your Interactions — our learnings from The Voice

This post is the second in a five part series exploring how lessons learned from broadcast television can be applied to interactive live streaming. Check out our blog or follow us on Medium to make sure you don’t miss the upcoming installments in this series.

In this lesson we look how using different genres and objective require different types of interactions.

Grow your audience with interactivity

TV Shows like The Voice, What Do I Know and Ask The Nation, generate the highest engagement with their content, and all have a few things in common. They aren’t lucky, but they are creative, strategic and organized. And that’s what you’ll have to be in order to maximize viewer interactions with your live stream.

When you’re planning out the content for your live stream, you’ll want to create opportunities for yourself to invite the audience to engage. This may mean you’ll have to tailor your content to encourage interactivity. This is a small investment that will pay off in the long run because interaction is the key to audience growth and retention for live content.

When people interact with a live stream, they feel valued because their interaction is recognized or has an influence on the outcome of the show. This feeling of appreciation can be enhanced even further when viewer feedback is acknowledged during the stream, either through displaying viewer input or showing the results on screen, and it’s a great way to keep them coming back for more. This is one of the principal reasons Facebook Live or Periscope are gaining a foothold, because they have basic interactive functionality built into their experience.

“interaction is the key to audience growth and retention for live content.”

Structure interactions to get the right respons

But the most successful live TV shows go beyond these basic forms of interactions. They combine different types of interaction to keep the viewer engaged and involved. By including multiple ways for people to interact you prevent these actions from getting repetitive for viewers. Think about things that could be suitable for the genre of content you are producing. At Ex Machina, on many of our TV projects we combine quizzes, multiple choice questions, polls, voting for your favorite performances, ratings and open ended questions that require the audience to come up with their own response.

Use the right tool for the job

To structure this experience it’s important to set up a timeline for interaction through the entire duration of your stream. Make sure there will be regular opportunities for viewers to get involved with the show. And remember to be creative and mix it up as well. To keep people engaged for an extended period of time, you’ll need to do more than a simple poll asking “Which singer is better? John or Jack”? The key here is to incite the appropriate types of interaction, ones that will resonate the most for the genre and audience demographics of any given broadcast.

Structure different type of interactions that align with the genre, objective and audience of your video.
“The key here is to incite the appropriate types of interaction, ones that will resonate the most for the genre and audience demographics of any given broadcast.”

In some cases you can take this to the next level by developing advanced multiplayer games that allow users to compete with friends or even other viewers for points or real prizes. It’s also important to keep the same brand standards for any external applications, so people know right away this is affiliated with your content. Make sure the on-screen graphics and the user experience closely align with those of your existing content.

Best practice: The Voice

A great example of engaging viewers with structured interactions is The Voice. This popular talent show has been aired all around the world and Ex Machina built the official app for over 13 countries. The Voice has different phases and each phase, from auditions to the live battles, requires a different approach.

Just take a look at how we helped the popular reality TV show The Voice in Australia develop a new mechanism for engaging with their fans. The “Homecoach” app combines predictions, polls and voting to engage viewers before, during and after the broadcast.

And remember interactions aren’t just for live streams, we want to connect with you too! Let us know how these tips work out for you. You can write us and share your thoughts on Facebook and Twitter. And keep an eye out for the next installment in this series coming soon. In Part III, we’ll discuss how to use gamification to engage your audience.

P.S. Ex Machina is growing and looking for passionate developers, designers and project managers. Check all open positions on our website.