Up until recently, the phrase ‘corporate social media’ referred to a brand’s polished profile and carefully crafted posts. The goal of corporate social media was to establish authority, boost brand recognition, and ultimately, to sell a product. While the goal hasn’t changed, the methodology has.
As technology continues to advance, social media has become much more dynamic. The most recent trend? Live video. Contrary to the tone of more traditional corporate social media, live video is unpredictable, raw, and personal—a real game changer.
Predictably, marketers are a bit skeptical. But, research shows, brand audiences are ready for this shift. In fact, 80% would rather watch live video from a brand than read a blog and 82% prefer live video from a brand to standard text or image posts (source).
Ready to learn how to make livestreaming work for your brand? Keep reading.
What is Livestreaming?
Let’s start at the beginning. For those who aren’t familiar, livestreaming is the transmission of live, real-time video, broadcast over social media or a specialized streaming platform. It’s important to note, livestreaming is not the same as on-demand video streaming—where content is typically pre-recorded and often edited.
With the release of Facebook Live, YouTube, Snapchat, and Instagram live stories, most people are familiar with livestreaming in a personal capacity. Whether it’s a friend sharing their night out or a celebrity answering fan questions, the intimate nature of live video is innately appealing.
Live-streaming for Business
If leveraged correctly, live video can generate the same personal, behind-the-scenes appeal for your company—and as a result, significantly improve your marketing and social media efforts. Let’s get into specifics:
- Boost authenticity. Face-to-face interaction with customers and prospects goes a long way—but it’s difficult to be everywhere at once. Live video solves this problem and gives businesses an easy way to interact with their audience in real time for little to no cost. Plus, the unedited nature of live video makes the content feel more exclusive and personal—essentially humanizing your business.
- Expand your reach. Video attracts attention and generates engagement—particularly live video. Consider the following statistics:
– Video on social media generates 1200% more shares than text and images combined (source).
– Live content on Facebook receives 10 times more comments than regular videos (source).
– Facebook Live videos are watched three times longer than videos that aren’t live (source).
When you dedicate your time toward live video, you will engage not just your audience, but also their personal networks as they, share, like, and comment on your livestream.
- Save your budget: Live video is as inexpensive as it is effective—making it a natural choice for marketers. Unlike other marketing mediums, live video only requires a stable internet connection, manpower, and a good camera.
- Bulk up your content catalog: After your livestream is all said and done, use the content to build up your content marketing catalog. Whether you stream an event, a Q&A, or an interview, the raw footage can be saved and edited for later use. This video content is extremely valuable for website use, promotional materials, customer testimonials, and much much more. Live video is the gift that keeps on giving, for weeks, months and even years to come.
Live-streaming Best Practices
Because there are certain risks associated with live-streaming (see more about this below), it’s important to go into your live event fully prepared. We’ve included some tips and best practices to help you get started.
1. Platform Selection. Now that live-streaming has really caught on, most social media platforms have some sort of streaming capabilities—not to mention independent platforms like Twitch and Periscope that focus solely on live video. It can be hard to decide which platform to use. Here are just some of today’s most popular livestreaming tools:
- Facebook Live
- Instagram Live
- YouTube Live
- Twitter Live Video
Before live-streaming for the first time ask yourself the following questions to determine which platform might be best for your organization:
- What is the intention of my live video?
- Do I want to attract new prospects or direct my stream towards my existing customer base?
- Where does my audience interact with my brand the most?
- What is the most reliable platform?
- Do I want visitors to be able to see this video after the livestream ends? Or do I want this video to disappear?
Once you have a good idea of what your stream will entail, you’ll be able to pick the platform that will best suit your needs. Also keep in mind, some streaming apps allow you to share your live stream across multiple social networks, so if you’re struggling to pick just one platform, an independent app might be the best choice.
Try one, or try them all and compare results. But, don’t skimp on platform research—selecting the wrong one could be the difference between a successful stream and a massive failure.
2. Preparation. The key to livestream preparation is to plan but not produce. You want to know the basic structure of your program but you don’t want your stream to come across as scripted or stiff. After all, the attraction of live video comes from its authenticity. Extreme production and rehearsal will take away from this.
3. Video Quality. While it’s important to prepare your content, it’s even more important to prepare your technology and resources. In fact, video quality is the most important factor for 67% of viewers when watching a livestream broadcast (source). Make sure you have a strong internet connection and that the rest of your livestreaming tools are working properly.
4. Promotion. Treat your livestream like you would treat a live event. You wouldn’t expect people to just show up to a tradeshow or industry event without any promotion would you? The same goes for a live video event.
In the days and weeks leading up to your livestream, be sure to promote the event through your typical marketing channels—email, social, digital ads, etc. Be sure to include the platform, the URL, the time, and date of your livestream.
It can also help to offer a discount code, giveaway, or free trial as an incentive for your audience to tune in and participate.
5. Strategy. As with any other marketing tactic, how you use live video will depend on many different factors. What works for one company may not necessarily work for another company. Our advice is to start small and build on your strategy from there. If you’re looking for ideas, keep reading. We cover five of the best livestream ideas toward the end of this article.
Because live video happens in real time, there are inherent risks that come with live streaming. Below we give you the three most common risks of live video and provide you with the tools you need to mitigate them.
1. Anything can happen. The same reasons that make live video entertaining, also make it extremely scary for companies. One wrong word, awkward pause, or misstep can make a company go viral for all the wrong reasons. The only way to mitigate this risk is to prepare, prepare, prepare.
Here are few extra steps you can take to ensure your live stream goes according to plan:
- Come up with a livestream manual that outlines company expectations, rules, brand guidelines, and consequences. That way, anyone involved in the production of your live event is fully prepared to behave professionally.
- Vet all on-air personality. If you have concerns, consider offering media training so that any on-screen personnel will be comfortable answering questions and speaking to a large audience.
- Review the content with a manager or director. This will help you avoid revealing sensitive or private information.
- Get consent to film. If you’re in a public setting be sure to understand the laws and legislation surrounding media.
- Never put anyone on the spot. If you’re doing a live Q&A or interactive segment, be sure to pick those involved ahead of time. Unplanned segments can get derailed quickly by an inappropriate participant.
- Dedicate one person to starting and ending the livestream. The last thing you want is to inadvertently livestream content that wasn’t meant for public consumption.
2.Technical issues. Sometimes, technological glitches are unavoidable. Plan for them ahead of time to make sure your stream goes smoothly. This means, meet with your IT department to make sure there is no maintenance done during the time of your livestream. Have a backup camera and a backup battery on hand.
Provide a twitter account or support channel at the start of the stream. Should your video go down, communicate with your audience using these channels. Let them know when the stream will be back or if it’s been rescheduled.
3. It won’t be perfect. As much as you prepare, there is always a chance that your live video won’t go according to plan. This is something you should make peace with ahead of time. Try to be flexible but always have a contingency plan. The more you livestream, the easier it will be to spot issues ahead of time.
8 Ideas to Kickstart Your Streaming Strategy
Not sure where to start? Here are the livestream ideas we promised you:
- Customer Q&A: Work with one, or several, of your best customers to facilitate a live Q&A session. Prepare a list of questions or take question submissions from your followers. Select your questions ahead of time and prep your customer guest so you have a good idea of what their answers will be.
- Expert Q&A: Similar to the first idea, identify an influencer or industry expert to answer your best questions live. For more in depth influencer marketing best practices, check out the article 8 Best Practices of B2B Influencer Marketing
- Employee/CEO Q&A: Along the same lines, consider sitting down with an employee or CEO of your company to tell your brand’s story. This is an excellent opportunity to put a face to your company and allow your audience to have unprecedented access to company leadership.
- Product Launch: Use live video to launch a new product. This will not only generate buzz around the product but also around your livestream. It will help your audience feel included and make the launch more exciting than an email announcement, for example.
- Product Demo: Do a live demonstration of a new or popular product. This will help customers who already have access to the products but also generate new interest in older or existing products. Show, rather than tell, your prospects why they need your product.
- How to: Use your livestream for educational purposes. Teach your audience how to do something. This will establish your brand as an industry expert and will keep people interested in your social media profiles
- Event: Allow your online followers to take part in in-person events, live. This can extend the reach and impact of your event and it will allow your followers to feel included if they can’t attend in person.
- Breaking News: Use live video to break important news. Video is often more compelling than a standard press release and it will allow you to reach more eyes without much planning.
Remember, keep things light and fun in your videos—after all, your audience is there to be entertained. While you can mention products and be professional, if your content is too dry, your visitors will stop tuning in.
After your livestream, your job isn’t over. You now have valuable content to repurpose, build off of, and reshare. Start small. Each livestream will be a learning experience; analyze your results, regroup, and modify your technique for your next stream. Happy streaming!