Members of a community share a set of views. They think the same way about at least one thing, whether that’s politics, a football team, a cause, or a favorite choice of toothpaste. A community has at least one thought, issue, feeling, concern, or a goal in common.

But having and maintaining only one thing is a pretty weak link to bond members of a community together. Communities are stronger when they share not just views but experiences. People who share a political view come together at rallies. Football fans bond when they cheer on their team together. Campaigners make friends at demonstrations and marches. The shared bonding experiences are the types of connection we want to encourage in ourselves and others.

For online communities, the issues are deeper and harder to understand and identify.

Online, the community members take part in group activities alone. They read and comment on posts in their own time and in isolation. The individuals don’t get to meet, let alone interact with other community members to share an experience.

Live video has changed the online experience.

Now available on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and a host of other platforms is live video that ensures members of a community can share the same experience at the same time.

The “group and fan-base” might be sitting in different places, but they’re all looking at the same event simultaneously. The viewers can even interact with the broadcaster and with each other. It’s the closest that an online community comes to sharing a common experience.

There are lots of different ways for communities to make use of these live videos, but three options stand out the best.

Interview an Expert

One great connection is a live interview with an expert. Your live interview is like running a talk show — and there are even tools that allow you to interview someone in a different location. The organizer of a community for people who like Harry Potter, for example, could interview the author of popular Harry Potter fanfiction. As audience members watch, they can use the comment stream to ask questions and talk to each other.

The chat shows up on the right side of the live streaming — everyone sees it and can make comments. The live stream then becomes more than an interview. Right there in real-time, the interview turns into a live discussion that’s closer to a book reading than a television show. Because the interview with an expert is interactive — it’s even more valued as a personal shared experience.

Instructional Videos

Interviews require a little preparation. You have to find someone willing to talk and answer questions and arrange a time that suits you, them, and your audience. Finding a bookable timeframe is not a big challenge, but it will require collaboration. Hop on a good Calendar site and coordinate with everyone for a higher participation rate.

Live instructional videos don’t require the co-operation of others, though they will demand some thought. You’ll need to plan what you’re going to show, and have the ability to walk people through the steps of what you are saying without getting confused or losing your place.

The result, though, will be the sharing of information with people who value that information. Triangle Nursery, for example, is a flower and event business in the UK. The company broadcasts regular live videos that show people, keen on flower arrangements, how to make cool bouquets.

You can see from the comments in the videos how well the comments are received, and how classy the interviewers respond. The vid shows how to conduct a great forum for live interaction. The National Quilters Circle does something similar, bringing together hobbyists to learn and interact with each online.

Live Events

The third kind of live video is probably the most popular. One of the most common broadcasts on Facebook Live comes from churches that use the feature to bring congregations to their places of worship.

But a church certainly isn’t the only event that community organizers can use to cement relationships between members of an online community. Even industry events, such as car shows, can use live broadcasts to show people who can’t attend what they’re missing and let them communicate with the people who are there.

I’ve seen significant use of live vid for business teammate connections. There have been some great book groups on Facebook and elsewhere for individuals with all kinds of differing tastes from Business and Self-Help to Sci-Fi. Find one that fits what you are looking for. At this time of the COVID-19 issues — many teachers and schools are using this same live-stream format or instructional videos to stay in touch with their students.

Firms as big as Apple have been live-streaming their events for years but live video takes that reach even further by enabling interaction. The organizer of an art fair, for example, can alert members of an art community that they’ll be broadcasting from the event live.

During the show, the organizers can walk the booths and interview the exhibitors. Inviting viewers to ask questions as they watch the walk-through is the icing on the cake. Exhibitors themselves could broadcast their own videos.

Art Sherpa, who teaches acrylic painting, teamed up with Pix Brix at the New York Toy Fair to talk about the company’s new construction toys. You can see how the live audience interaction adds a new degree of depth to what would otherwise be a typical marketing pitch.

Online communities have always had weaker bonds than real-life communities. Live video has helped to make those bonds much stronger.

Joel Comm

The Functional Futurist

Joel Comm is New York Times bestselling author, blockchain enthusiast, podcast host, professional keynote speaker, social media marketing strategist, live video expert, technologist, brand influencer, futurist and eternal 12-year old. With over two decades of experience harnessing the power of the web, publishing, social media and mobile applications to expand reach and engage in active relationship marketing, Joel is a sought-after public speaker who leaves his audiences inspired, entertained, and armed with strategic tools to create highly effective new media campaigns. His latest project is as co-host of The Bad Crypto Podcast, a top cryptocurrency show making the future of digital payments easy to understand.