As lockdowns and social distancing disrupted business as usual, many companies searching for new revenue streams and opportunities for customer engagement tried their hands at live-streaming for the first time, fueling 45% growth in the sector between March and April.
Luxury fashion brands, fitness studios, and even farmers have begun live-streaming in recent months, and as the pandemic ushers in long-lasting social and economic changes, the technology is set to become an increasingly prominent part of marketing’s new normal.
Grand View Research projects that the global video streaming market will reach $184.27 billion by 2027, which would make it one of the most valuable mediums for brand promotion. Driving the market’s growth is widespread customer interest in streamed content. Eight in 10 consumers prefer live video to a blog or social media posts—and when video content is highly compelling, the payoff is something to write home about. When a customer enjoys a video ad, purchase intent soars 97%.
Central to its appeal is the human element. Live video marketing enables brands to tell their stories and showcase their products or services in an authentic manner, with the influencer or brand ambassador behind the camera able to directly interact with audiences via live comments and Q&A. This fosters stronger connections between brands and consumers, allowing viewers to feel like VIPs. At the same time, live-streaming on social channels can attract thousands of viewers (including post-broadcast), significantly expanding brands’ potential customer bases.
And the true beauty of it all is that businesses from a multitude of backgrounds and live-streaming experience levels can now create content that drives real results and elevates their brands. Here are 7 ways newbies and veterans alike can up their live-streaming game:
Research, research, research
To effectively engage an audience, it’s essential to understand who comprises that audience and what kind of content will inspire them.
Gather data on your audience’s spending habits, lifestyle, and brand affinities, and you’ll be better positioned to connect with them in a genuine way. It’s also critical to stay on top of current events, particularly amid today’s frenzied news cycle, to avoid the risk of becoming irrelevant or appearing insensitive.
Hire or host the right influencer
In recent years, companies have increasingly relied on influencer marketing to raise their public profiles. Allowing a popular influencer to conduct a company live stream can be an excellent way of promoting a new product and reaching new groups of followers.
Of course, most businesses don’t have the connections (or the budgets) to hire world-famous celebrity influencers—but trusted local influencers are usually well within reach and are often far more valuable than flashy names. Pascual Yogurt, for instance, recently attracted 7,400 viewers and 13,000 comments to a live stream featuring appearances by a local celebrity chef, a health and wellness expert, and a nutritionist.
Host-focused Q&A sessions
To make your live streams as interactive and engaging as possible, it can be helpful to pre-select a Q&A topic to guide the discussion, rather than allowing followers to ask random, unrelated questions. This will make the live stream far more focused and edifying for viewers.
Stick to a schedule
Don’t think of live-streaming as a one-and-done or sporadic affair.
Setting a regular schedule—ideally with at least two weekly live streams—is the best way to maintain a steady drumbeat of viewer engagement. This will keep your most dedicated, high-value customers coming back for more, while providing plenty of opportunities for new followers to engage with the brand. Promoting your broadcast via email, your website, and social channels before, during, and after the event will help maximize viewership.
To head off glitches during a live broadcast, create a private Facebook group where you can practice going live before your first broadcast. This will allow you to identify and resolve any technical issues, adjust your lighting and background for optimal visual appeal (prioritizing ample natural light), fine-tune your messaging, and polish your performance.
Warming up also gets the host into “on-air” mode before the broadcast starts—making it less likely that they’ll begin the stream with dead air or awkward “Are we on?” moments.
Forget the fancy equipment
Viewers aren’t tuning into live streams in search of elaborate, highly choreographed content; after all, it’s live-streaming’s authenticity that makes it such a big draw. So don’t worry about buying expensive equipment such as ring lights and HD cameras. A desktop or laptop camera is more than enough to get started. (Smartphone feeds, however, tend to be shaky, with spotty video and audio quality.) As you become more experienced, you may decide to invest in third-party apps and upgrading your gear, but it’s not necessary at the beginning.
As with any other marketing initiative, make sure to experiment and mix it up with different topics and formats. This will help you pinpoint which content most resonates with your audience and can help you refine your streams to best suit your goals—whether you’re streaming as part of your sales funnel or to connect with existing customers.
To survive in the post-pandemic normal, businesses must continuously adapt—and live-streaming provides a vital opportunity to adapt to a changing world in which we’re more online than ever before. As lockdowns ease and routines return, live-streaming will remain as a valuable engagement tool.
The next marketing revolution won’t be televised. It will be streamed.
Daniel Mayer is the CEO and cofounder of live-streaming service BeLive.