Why businesses need to use live video for every marketing strategy

Live video must be considered one of the most, if not the most, engaging mediums for communication.

In 2016, Facebook found that users watched live content three times longer than pre-recorded video. Images can be eye-catching and text can be compelling, but they cannot facilitate the type of engagement generated by live streams.

The interactivity of live video strengthens the relationship between a brand and its followers. It has become a significant marketing tool and one which most enterprises would be unwise to ignore.

There are certainly risks to ‘going live’, mainly due to the technological complexities involved. Therefore there are multiple factors to consider before deciding if it is worth the effort.

What’s in it for Me?

Social media is making it easier than ever to take advantage of the live video trend; Facebook’s release of live features to all users has enabled any brand to use the technology.

The beauty of hosting live streams on social media platforms like Facebook is the opportunity to grow audiences. An important element in engaging an audience is offering viewers the ability to affect the content of a live stream, and creating a sense of being part of the event, using features such as polling and Q&As.

an important element in engaging an audience is offering viewers the ability to affect the content of a live stream

By engaging a core audience who already like your page, or have asked to be notified about a stream going live, you can use interactivity to alert other users, something we call attracting the ‘soft audience’. This demographic consists of individuals who become interested in content if their ‘friends’ or ‘followers’ have reacted to it.

Content on social media can seem more transparent and authentic than television or print advertisement. As a result, content is perceived as less of a marketing ploy. This applies entirely to live video which is normally unedited and appears off-the-cuff, thereby building trust and humanising a brand.

Obviously, this is not always the case, but the effect is tangible in terms of viewer assumptions.

Don’t forget that live streams are even capable of growing an audience when they stop being live. Last year, the most watched Facebook live video was ‘Chewbacca Mom’, reaching a whopping 170 million views live and on replay.

Getting it Right

How does a video showing a woman sitting in her car wearing a Chewbacca mask and laughing attract such a large audience?

Maybe it simply demonstrates users’ initial interest in a new platform. But our experience shows that almost any type of live video works for brands, which is why it is so attractive to marketers, as long as the content fits into one of these categories:

  • an announcement which is so important to the core audience that they need to see it live, for example a product launch
  • something in sync with broadcast TV such as a live stream that adds value and interactivity to a broadcast programme or advert
  • and the most popular and useful live stream that extends the viewer access to a place, person or experience that they wouldn’t normally have access to. This could be the ability to go back stage at a big event, ask an expert a question or affect the outcome of a live video.

Before going live, consider which platform is best suited technically and stylistically for your company. Timing is also important to contemplate, especially for global brands with fans in different time zones.

consider which platform is best suited technically and stylistically

For regular live streams, consistency is sometimes best. The well-known makeup brand, Benefit, for example, hosts a live video every Thursday.

Although the time range seems flexible, live videos between 20-45 minutes work best, any longer and audiences lose interest and whilst total viewership may grow, average viewing times fall.

Take HBO’s live stream to reveal the premiere date of the latest series of Game of Thrones; fans were left irritated by the lack of action as a block of ice containing the date didn’t melt after over an hour.

The Value of Live

Evidence shows that live video is an effective marketing technique capable of generating more meaningful engagement from viewers and stronger brand-audience relationships.

Although complex, the benefits massively outweigh the risks, as we have demonstrated by providing over 225 successful live streams in the last year. Technology is steadily advancing and social media sites are fully capable of hosting live video for audiences numbering in the millions, so it is increasingly feasible to produce live content at cost effective prices.

We have still only scratched the surface of what can be done live.

As an increasing number of brands get on board with innovative ideas like Nike’s Strike Night and Asos’ 1 model x 100 garms, we can see that live video is already becoming a necessary tool in most marketing strategies.

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