How to engage your audience through Live Q&A

How to engage your audience through Live Q&A

Live Q&A for news and media sites
source, Gottesman Libraries

There is no doubt that live Q&A sessions are one of the content formats that most generate engagement amongst online newspapers. As there are many ways to run a live Q&A session, some use social media as a platform to answer questions, while others choose live Q&A providers such as Live Center to host the chats on their sites to drive more traffic. In this how-to guide, we gather practical advice on how to successfully run Live Q&A with Live Center, from preparing the chat and its participants to sourcing questions, moderating the discussion, and keeping the conversation going after the Q&A.

But before we get into how to run live Q&As effectively, let’s start by looking at why online newspapers should run live Q&As, and what their audience and own journalists, get out of the experience.

What is a Live Q&A and why it’s so important for engagement on your news site

Live Q&A also called Live Chat is a real-time web application that allows readers to react and share opinions on a topic, ask questions that journalists can reply to in real-time. There are a lot of reasons to organize these short live Q&A sessions. See below some of the benefits:

  • Increase engagement

 Covid -19 outbreak, social media changed the way readers consume news, now they want to be informed in real-time. Also, they want to be visible and make their voices heard by asking questions, sharing opinions, and being part of a community. For these reasons, engagement is one of the key performance indicators for online news sites. When a real-time Q&A session starts, you enable your audience to be part of that moment and put their thoughts and opinions in the spotlight. When run properly, Live Q&A help you build a deeper connection with your audience and help you know their needs and expectations.

  • Online presence

The highly engaging nature of Q&As allows you to expand your online presence and reach. You can promote your content on social media groups, paid ads, private messages, email campaigns, and much more. If some viewers get inspired and share your live Q&A, you’ll start growing your audience in no time.

Now that you know what’s a live Q&A and its benefits here are some tips on how to maximize the quality, productivity, and engagement of your live session. 

How to successfully start a Live Q&A? 

Plan the topics

When organizing a live Q&A it is important to select the right topic that your audience cares about, and that they are interested in. Also, it is crucial to select the right experts and journalists depending on the topic as they need to dominate the subject and be able to answer questions in real-time. See below a great example of a live Q&A session from one of the leading online media sites in the UK.

Spread the word

We wanted to highlight the importance of pre-promotion, to alert potential audiences to the time and place of the chat, as well as help source questions in advance where needed. Social media such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook are great places for promotion allowing newspapers to bring a younger audience to their site. We recommend asking those involved, such as the interviewees, to help get the word out. We’ve also seen newspapers promoting live chats on their main page with large banners or alert articles. Lastly, make sure that your subscriber knows about the event by sending them email promotions or SMS.

Promote your Live Q&A

Managing questions/moderation

When running Live Q&As, questions will be collected collaboratively on Live Center, which also helps when the journalist taking part in the chat are not based in the same office. The team can claim the questions they would like to answer and let the other know when the reader question is being answered. Once the team selected the most interesting and pertinent questions, they can start replying to them in real-time. But if desired journalists can choose to publish them at a later time. Journalists also have the option to add video, images, social media posts to their answers adding more context to each answer.

Here is how Live Center collects the questions from readers in real-time. In the image below the journalist can reply to questions directly by clicking on the button new post.

Collect live Q&A questions

To reply it’s very easy. Journalists can write in the editor and publish their answers, see showcase below:

Live Center, reply to Live Q&a

Also, Live Center provides a pre-moderation feature that helps you block abusive comments or users so that journalists don’t need to waste any time dealing with those. Live Center is providing several options to help comment moderation, spam, and profanity filter. We can also create a custom feature with blocks comments based on Keywords, install a reCAPTCHA feature or Ip rate limiting, and block depending on your needs and preferences.

Follow up after the Live Chat 

Once the chat/Q&A has taken place, one piece of advice shared by a number of the interviewees was to follow up on the session. We want to flag the importance of thanking those who asked questions and helped contribute to the discussion, acknowledging them, and saying ‘hey, thank you for your question. With a warm follow-up and thank you note, readers are more likely to come back for another Q&A or tell friends and family.

Soon enough you’re growing your audience and engagement on your website!