Here’s our statistic of the day: 28% of all internet users have watched a live stream on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. According to Facebook head of video Fidji Simo, at least 20% of all video on the social media giant are live streamed.
Once a weird and niche form of digital content, live streaming is rapidly becoming a mainstream tool for internet users to connect and share their experiences with one another.
With adoption rates trending upwards and mobile internet offering faster speeds than ever before, live streaming could become a key battleground for digital marketers to compete on in the coming years.
Why is live streaming taking over?
Live broadcasting is as old as radio... literally! Live radio and television have been staples of the average living room for decades. So why did internet live streaming take so long to catch up?
While there have been baby steps since then, it’s only been in the last couple of years that live streaming has become feasible. And it’s only been very recently that live streaming has become a useful tool for marketers.
Here are a couple of the biggest culprits behind that:
Lower barriers to entry
Nowadays, setting up or tuning in to a live stream is as easy as tapping a button on your phone. On top of that, digital platforms such as Facebook, Youtube, Instagram and Twitter have all launched their own live streaming platforms - meaning you can broadcast or tune in any time, anywhere.
Technology has caught up
Who doesn’t remember this sound?
Without high-speed broadband and capable mobile internet, streaming anything - live or otherwise - was physically impossible. Just try watching a Youtube video on dial-up - we’ll wait!
We’re just more used to it now
If you took a random sample off the street and asked about their internet habits in 2007, you’d still have a decent chance of finding at least a handful person who would answer with “nothing at all.”
Repeat the same experiment today and we’re fairly certain that number would be almost zero. People are much more accustomed to spending their lives online - and that means they’re more at home with the idea of broadcasting parts of their lives.
What does live streaming mean for marketers?
Each day, 100 million hours worth of video is watched on Facebook alone. And 20% of those are live streams. Even if viewers only tune in for five seconds, that’s a lot of video being watched - about two thousand year’s worth, to be exact!
This isn’t even getting started on the sheer amount of live video that is streamed via Youtube. Add on Instagram and Twitter and it quickly becomes clear that there is a huge audience for live video.
With audiences engaging more and more with digital content and live streaming seeing unprecedented growth, it’s only natural that we’re seeing increasing numbers of followers engaging with live video.
But you already have video as part of your digital marketing strategy. What makes live streaming different from uploading pre-prepared videos?
Like the name suggests, live streaming is… well, live. Your audience sees everything in real-time as it happens.
Many marketers might be alarmed by that. After all, if it’s live there’s the risk of being off-message or not quite projecting the right image.
Here’s the thing however: that’s the entire point!
There is currency in that authentic, unscripted connection between you and your followers. Traditional, one-way marketing strategies are less effective than they were in the past - while the reasons are many, one of the biggest is that advertising doesn’t feel real.
Live streams, on the other hand, are much more intimate by nature. Instead of being highly scripted with multiple takes and slick editing, what you see on a live stream is what you get. It’s genuine. And for many, that’s enough to get them to form a connection.
Of course, we’re not saying you have to go in blind or drastically lower your production quality! But it is important to keep in mind that sense of genuineness when planning your video strategy.
Any marketer worth their salt knows that most customers love being given individual attention. Whether it’s a tailored offer, targeted ads or even something as simple as letters that get their name right, that little touch of personalisation can be very effective at building connections with your customers.
So it comes as no surprise that customers react positively when they have the opportunity to interact with your brand in real-time.
And that’s exactly what live streams allow you to do. By default, most platforms allow viewers to interact and leave comments - which you can respond to in your broadcast!
Here’s one example: let’s say you’re broadcasting a behind-the-scenes and someone leaves a comment on your stream. You can respond to that comment, answer any questions and have a real conversation with your audience.
Higher levels of engagement
Why are we marketers so fond of creating a sense of urgency? It’s simple: it drives customers to take action. Whether it’s a limited time sale or an item with finite stock, knowing that something isn’t going to be there indefinitely triggers an almost primal instinct in the brain to take action.
Even though you can rewatch a live stream after the fact, the “live” tag builds that sense of urgency in your followers - after all, you’re not going to be live indefinitely.
In essence, the “live” tag acts as a reminder to your followers that the video is only going to be there for a limited time… and if they want to see it, they’d best click now!
Getting people to pay attention to you is a crucial first step when it comes to digital marketing… or marketing in general. And that “live” tag might be all that’s needed to push a follower to clicking your video and engaging with you.
Provide value to your viewers
Like any other part of your marketing strategy, getting people to respond to your live streaming is about more than just being there. It’s all about delivering value.
But what is value? Without a doubt, value is one of the hardest concepts for marketers to pin down.
Only you will be able to determine what the followers of your brand or product value from your digital marketing. Why do people follow you? What value are they receiving from your written posts that you can translate to live video?
Some examples of how brands have successfully used live streaming to provide value for their customers include:
- Behind-the scenes broadcasts. Giving customers an insight into how your brand works on a day-to-day basis
- Live events. These can include press conferences, performances and demos. Red Bull for example broadcasts a lot of its live extreme sports events such as
- Interviews and Q&As. Q&A sessions are a great way for customers to build a stronger connection with your brand - live video provides a
Naturally, what your audience finds valuable will depend on your customer base. Good thing your followers will be able to tell you what they’re interest in while the broadcast is still running!
And if that means changing tack halfway through a stream, don’t be afraid to throw out the script. If you’re planning a behind-the-scenes broadcast and your viewers start asking about new products you’re working on, clearly that’s what they find valuable - don’t be afraid to change gears!
Have you considered live video for your content marketing strategy?
When it comes to an effective content marketing strategy, creating content that your followers and customers want to pay attention to
While live streaming is still a new area for digital marketers, it’s one that’s going through rapid development and change. If it’s not part of your digital marketing mix yet, it might be time to start thinking about what it can do for you.
What do you think about live streaming as a marketing tool? Is it here to stay or is it a flash in the pan? We’d love to hear your thoughts!