Marketers can be easily baffled by the rise of live streaming. What can it offer that recorded video can’t? How can it be used with minimal risk?
What makes live streaming great is that it’s the ultimate FOMO killer (FOMO: fear of missing out). It’s great for people who want to experience something when they can’t be there in person. But it operates far beyond the traditional broadcasting model. At its best, live streaming helps brands go from storytelling to storyliving; they can broadcast behind the scenes at big topical events to share footage that people wouldn’t otherwise get to experience first-hand.
By investing wisely and using live streaming in the right way, brands can create a huge impact. Spotify attracted over 50,000 followers just by broadcasting a consistent cadence of exclusive #SpotifySessions and exclusive concert footage on Periscope. And news outlets like CNN, USA Today, and the Guardian use the platform to broadcast interactive conversations with reporters, who answer questions from viewers about breaking stories.
Over on Facebook Live, streaming has made a global star of “Chewbacca Mom” Candace Payne, after the recording of her live stream of herself trying on a Chewbacca mask racked up over 140 million views. Candace has since been treated to a huge range of Star Wars goodies and enjoyed a tour of Facebook’s head office.
Got It. Brands, People … But Puddles?!
Everyone loves a bit of irony. With £20 bottles of Shoreditch air making headlines up and down the country, the next logical step would, of course, be live streaming a puddle.
Of course, the big surprise, when it came to #DrummondPuddleWatch, was how popular it was, with 20,000 people tuning in. But this wasn’t just any puddle; it was a comically large puddle, and watching people try to navigate it had amused a group of Periscope users behind the prank for weeks in real life. The moral of the story is—if you find something entertaining in real life, it is a lot more likely to be engaging on social, and this unlikely hit is testament to that.
Live streaming offers two-way communication throughout the broadcast, as viewers can interact live with the broadcaster through comments or chats. This changes a live streaming experience from passive to reactive, making the event more memorable for consumers, and offering the added bonus of immediate feedback about the broadcast.
Buzzfeed decided to experiment with this by live streaming a watermelon being slowly squeezed by rubber bands until it—eventually—exploded. The stream had 807,000 viewers at the end of its 45-minute runtime and was reportedly Facebook Live’s most viewed live stream at the time of broadcast. Audience participation clearly played a part in spreading the film. Over 320,000 people commented on the stream as it was broadcast, and 17,000 shared it, creating a sense of camaraderie and encouraging others to join the party.
How Can Brands Plan For Live Streaming?
Brands cannot simply whack up any old live stream on live streaming and expect it to fly. Live streaming must solve a problem for the audience, not a marketing problem for your brand. Look at the content you’re creating and ask yourself if it’s shareable. If it isn’t, don’t bother. A good general rule is to ask yourself the following questions:
- What problem you are solving for your live streaming audience? Not what marketing problem does live streaming solve?
- Who are your likely live streaming audience? Why are they tuning in?
- Where are they going to hear about it?
- When do your tweets get most engagement? Try to do your live streaming around this time.
- How will it work? Live streaming is expected to be unpolished but your scope should still follow a narrative if possible, at least a start, middle, and end.
What’s coming up in your brand’s world? This could be fashion week, or the latest footballer signing. Think about how live streaming could add an extra dimension to your existing marketing mix. Adidas used live streaming to great effect by streaming the signing of James Rodriguez to Real Madrid.
Basically, if you want to kill some FOMO for your fans and followers, then live streaming might work well for you. But make sure you ask yourself: “Why would they care, why would they share?” If you can’t answer this, then don’t press “Start Broadcast” any time soon.