We’re all live broadcasters now. With the advent of X, formerly Twitter’s Periscope, Instagram Stories and Facebook Live, everyone has the ability to live stream what they’re doing – inane or otherwise – and beam it across their social networks.
It’s a game changer for social users, and, as is often the case, it’s becoming a game changer for brands. Companies haven’t dived in completely because live streaming is fraught with risks at a time when a little bit of bad publicity can go a very long way.
That said, brands would be wise to explore how to make full use of live streaming marketing in order to reach consumers in a nimble way, on the social channels they prefer.
The Risks of Going Live
Brands today want – and increasingly need – to control every aspect of their public image. So even if a company makes meticulous preparations in advance of a Facebook Live video, there’s still a chance that something will go wrong.
A teenager doesn’t have to worry about the risks of a friendly photo bomb (or the live video version of that) or accidentally shaking his phone while streaming the unboxing of a new pair of shoes, but the same hiccup could spur instant social backlash for a large brand.
An Opportunity (And an Imperative)
Being unable to edit every frame of a video can seem risky, and rightfully so. That said, given how customers are eager to consume live content, there’s a need for brands to embrace the power of live streaming.
One relatively safe format is a live stream with a product expert who explains how to use a certain brand offering. A golf equipment company, for instance, could enlist one of its endorsers to sing the praises of a new set of irons and offer tips for how best to swing it.
In order for this sort of video to really resonate with customers, brands will need to offer viewers the ability to comment live and ask questions on the screen. This approach obviously has risks of its own, but with an attentive social team and rules to flag inappropriate content, companies can maintain a clean supply of commentary from the public and facilitate a true back and forth between brand and consumer.
Advertising to Live Viewers
Live streaming not only offers brands a way for brands to communicate with consumers in new and immersive ways, it’s also an opportunity to develop fresh ways of advertising to live viewers.
An airline, for example, could market their live stream to people interested in airplanes and let them know about an upcoming live video tour of a 747. The carrier could run an ad just before (or even during) the live stream and reach an audience that’s guaranteed to be in interested in the topic at hand.
Now, one small drawback is that social platforms don’t yet offer the ability to run ads mid-video – but it’s clear that providing brands the ability to do so would open up a number of new doors.
Another potential approach would be an arrangement by which a brand works with a social platform to guarantee that a certain amount of its followers are exposed to a live video, thus ensuring a sizable audience for every live offering.
Next Steps For Live
It’s clear that marketing live streaming will continue to grow — and it’s going to happen fast. Facebook says 1 in 5 videos shared on the site are now Live, and Instagram Stories has a whopping 250 million users. Brands that want a piece of the action shouldn’t wait for the next social channel to create a live streaming feature. They should be drafting their strategies now and using the opportunity to be face-to-face with their consumers.