Everyone’s talking about live video, and many brands are trying to get in on the action. From major media organizations like NPR to independent beauty product sellers, streaming video’s potential for reaching an engaged, real-time audience has made it a new frontier for warfare among the various social media platforms. After Twitter blazed trails with Periscope, Facebook built its own live-video experience into its News Feed, while Snapchat and Instagram have also invested heavily into storytelling experiences build around streaming video.
By now, many companies have asked their marketing departments to give this new channel a try. The results have been mixed: while some companies instantly found audiences waiting for them online, others have failed to gain the traction they might have anticipated. Their frustrations are compounded when those marketers who are hard pressed for streaming video results follow the advice of live video tip sheets to a T, only to have their efforts rewarded with tiny audiences and paltry engagement.
The problem is with the prescription being handed out: like other digital channels, live video marketing is poorly served by a one-size-fits-all approach. Instead of being handed a tip sheet of what to do to improve your results, marketers would be better served by a guide to the decision-making process when building a live strategy—a road map for building their own customized campaigns.
So let’s get started.
Where you do your video marketing will dictate much of your approach. Unlike other types of social content, you can only stream live to one channel at a time. Rather than trying to create content that can be repurposed, it’s better to make video experiences that are as channel specific as possible.
Facebook, as in so many other forms of social media marketing, has quickly established itself as the most indispensable platform for creating live video. It offers significant reach, provides multiple methods of user engagement and sharing, and gives brands several methods of extending their reach through user notifications and saving live sessions as video to your brand page. There are exceptions to its marketing power, such as when you’re targeting a young audience that prefers visual social networks like Snapchat, but Facebook is generally a good place for live streaming video marketing to start.
But if you have a highly engaged Twitter following, Periscope shouldn’t be discounted. And certain forms of storytelling can be much more effective on Instagram and Snapchat, particularly when you’re trying to create intimate user experiences—this is one advantage those platforms have over Facebook.
Brands could even consider using multiple channels simultaneously, and creating content that leverages those experiences. As an example, a company could host a live Q&A session on Facebook, while another member of the marketing team runs a Snapchat live stream that goes behind-the-scenes in showing how the video is being produced. It’s two types of video content for two different channels, each offering its own experience.
Marketers creating livestreaming video should embrace its opportunity for learning on the go, and making quick changes to improve those experiences as they’re taking place. Most platforms offer instant feedback in various forms: Facebook lets users Like and comment as the session takes place, creating a conversation between the video host and his or her audience. Periscope offers even simpler feedback in the form of hearts that flood the screen, created by users touching their mobile screens to convey their appreciation.
This is a great asset to marketers. Instead of producing content and publishing it live upon its completion, livestreaming video can literally be improved as you go, according to Business 2 Community. You can even solicit this feedback directly, which is what has made the live Q&A session so successful, since it lets consumers shape the content they are watching.
This feedback can continue to be gathered after the video has played, if it is saved to a platform like Facebook. Meanwhile, social network metrics can offer platform-specific insights into your success. But the real-time analysis is a unique facet of this type of content creation, providing thrill along with gratification when improvisation leads to better results.
No matter where you choose to start your live experiments, try a wide range of content that explores the possibilities of streaming video while testing your audience to see what they’re most attracted to. Between webinars, Q&As, instructional demos, special announcements and other formats, there are plenty of options to choose from.
Testing is critical because, as Forbes pointed out, not every brand will have success with the same types of live content. Cooking brands have found great success with instructional videos that showcase recipes and products. Sports brands have had success tapping their internal expertise to answer fan questions on the fly. You’ll need to test a wide range of video content to see what works, but don’t be afraid to lean in hard to whatever demonstrates traction with your audience. Ultimately, your audience will dictate the type of content you create.
The best approach might surprise you. Take, for example, Buzzfeed’s video experiment involving a watermelon and set of rubber bands. The premise was simple, but absurd: Buzzfeed employees would incrementally wrap rubber bands around a watermelon, in a test to see how many it would take before the watermelon exploded. It seems trivial, but the video earned massive engagement numbering into hundreds of thousands of views, and that doesn’t count the social impact it make. Consumers were able to see the tension ramp up as the watermelon bent under the stress of the rubber bands, and this was enough to hold their attentions through the live session. This goofy idea not only worked, but it established a template for future viral content for the brand.
That’s not to say the key to your marketing success hinges on your ability to sell exploding fruits to your audience. Video content, as always, must fit your brand’s voice. But within those parameters, there is plenty of room to get creative—and, with a little effort, better results.