As a dietitian, you’d never meet with a new client or patient without knowledge of the latest nutrition news and research. And as an RD working in online nutrition communications, the same should hold true when it comes to understanding the newest social media platforms. While it’s easy to feel overwhelmed each time a new platform launches, the key to incorporating them successfully into your practice isn’t only knowing what’s new but also determining whether it’s a platform that will help you reach the right audience with your nutrition and food knowledge. Currently, the most noteworthy addition to the social media space is the launch of live streaming video.
While RDs have played a valuable role in video for years, serving as on-air spokespeople for traditional television broadcasts and more recently with recorded video via YouTube, live streaming is a different opportunity to reach viewers in a self-directed and more casual way. By allowing any dietitian with a phone, computer, tablet, or camera to instantly broadcast to their audience, live streaming lets you bypass the need for a production crew or expensive equipment, while potentially reaching millions of people.
Where to Start
There are a number of social media platforms that offer video as an option. Short-form videos on Instagram and Vine have been around for a while. But full-length, live streaming apps like Periscope and Meerkat (which both launched in 2015) have opened a new two-way channel where broadcasters can “just press play” and instantly be connected to an audience, and, likewise, the audience can respond with comments and questions.
Even though there was much excitement around Periscope and Meerkat when they first launched and a few RDs were quick to explore the new space, it wasn’t until social media patriarch Facebook launched its own live stream option that many of our fellow RDs began to broadcast. Where Periscope required users to download and familiarize themselves with a new app, Facebook Live brings the broadcast right to users’ feeds, eliminating the need to build a “new” audience.
Although live stream offers the convenience of anywhere-broadcasting and the casual appeal of one-on-one conversation, there are a few key strategies to keep in mind to make the most of your broadcast. The following are my top five tips for RDs who want to try live streaming:
- Outline in advance: While live streaming doesn’t have to be scripted, you should have a general idea of your topic in mind. To keep viewers’ attention, focus on quick topics that can be broken down into three to five easy steps or talking points.
- Adjust lights and camera before action: Make sure you’re in a well-lit space, adding additional lighting if needed. Beware of harsh lighting from windows or spotlights. When setting up your camera, use a tripod if you don’t have someone else filming, and avoid putting the camera above eye level. Experts recommend placing the camera just slightly below eye level.
- Do a sound check: Many video experts believe sound quality is more important than video quality. Consider purchasing a small, lavaliere microphone that attaches to your smartphone, and be sure to test your audio before going live.
- Advertise in advance: There’s nothing wrong with spur-of-the-moment broadcasting, but giving your followers advance notice may help entice them to log back in when it’s time to tune in.
- Entice engagement: Welcome followers and ask questions. Use their name and acknowledge your appreciation that they’ve tuned in. People want to feel connected with you, the broadcaster, so use the platform to not only broadcast but also engage.
— Regan Jones, RD, is a nationally recognized dietitian and owner of the world’s largest and most successful collection of dietitian-owned websites, including Healthy Aperture, The Recipe ReDux, Blog Brûlée, and RDs4Disclosure. Through her leadership, Regan’s websites have organized a network of more than 5,000 health influencers and RD bloggers who reach an audience of millions. As an RD who specializes in making healthful food and nutritious recipes easy and approachable, Regan is frequently featured in the national media. As a busy mom, she loves to create quick and healthful recipes her whole family enjoys. To learn more, visit reganmillerjonesinc.com.