Monday, April 11th, 2016 | 8 min read
Last summer, GE paired its drones with the livestreaming app, Periscope, to take viewers on a coast-to-coast tour of some of the company’s most secretive facilities. The week started at a jet engine testing site in the Appalachian Mountains and ended at a massive locomotive manufacturing plant in Texas. Throughout the event, experts were on hand to provide commentary and answer questions from the @GeneralElectric and @GEDronePilot accounts.
Drone Week was hugely influential in showing the potential that livestreaming holds for brands. Still, you don’t have to have drones and industrial machinery to make it work for your business.
Within just the past year, apps like Twitter’s Periscope and Amazon’s Twitch—along with major platforms like Facebook and YouTube—have been making live video more accessible to consumers. But livestreaming remains a largely untapped medium for brands, meaning those that start now have the opportunity to be early adopters and stake their claim in the space.
Livestreaming doesn’t just offer brands a way to express authenticity and humanity, which can enhance their connection with consumers; it also has the potential to be a powerful tool for many areas of business beyond marketing.
So, what’s stopping brands from giving live video a try? According to a recent survey from Brandlive, almost 20% of marketing executives said the biggest barrier to using live video was a lack of knowledge about its benefits.
Some marketers might also get scared when they hear the word “live.” Compared to publishing on-demand video, they might think it sounds like there’s more work and more risk involved. Here’s the good news: It doesn’t have to be that way. Livestreaming requires zero editing and post-production resources. Sure, it might take some planning beforehand, but once you’re live, you have an opportunity to speak to the customer directly and in real-time.
Livestreaming is an extremely versatile medium. Brands can use live video to broadcast workshops and conferences, product demonstrations, Q&As, behind-the-scenes content, and pretty much any announcement or event that might be important to their audience.
For instance, this January, General Motors used Facebook Live to livestream the announcement of its new Chevy Bolt EV electric car. As Adweek reported, the company claims to be the first automaker to use Facebook’s live video feature. The clip has since garnered 55,000 views, and it was paired with another Facebook video that gave viewers a 360-degree look inside the car.
Meanwhile, Doritos made its mark as the first brand to run a contest on the app with the #DoritosRoulette campaign. The company’s new roulette-style bags include a few “melt-your-face” chips among a bunch of regular nachos corn chips. Contestants were randomly chosen to play the game and take their chances live on Periscope.
— Doritos (@Doritos) June 25, 2015
It’s won’t be long before we’ll see brands collaborating with Facebook live celebrities or creating their own Facebook Live content channels. Your brand could be the next to find an entirely new way of using live video to reach consumers.
According to Brandlive, over 90% of marketers say that the biggest benefit of live video is the authentic interaction it provides with their audience. Broadcast in real-time without any fancy edits, livestreams invite consumers to feel like they are participating in a shared experience.
Facebook Live takes this engagement a step further by allowing viewers to post comments and questions during a livestream. The person running the stream can then address these comments on-the-spot. For instance, a brand can conduct Q&As or even remote focus groups around a new product. In fact, Facebook found that users comment over 10X more on Facebook Live videos than on regular videos.
Here’s the even cooler part: After the stream is over, Facebook Live then converts the live video into an on-demand video that can permanently live on your page. Brands can also view metrics from the livestream alongside metrics for the on-demand video, providing more robust reporting options than on other livestreaming platforms.
YouTube also provides this capability, allowing verified accounts to host streams and watch feedback from viewers flood in through the comment feed. For example, YouTube star Lilly Singh (a.k.a. iiSuperwomanii) recently conducted a livestream viewing party for her new documentary, A Trip to Unicorn Island. The live video amassed over 300,000 views, and is now available on-demand for fans to check back on.
Live video isn’t just for promoting new products. It can also break open doors for communication within your company. After all, your customers aren’t the only ones who deserve one-on-one attention; your employees and co-workers do, too. Brandlive found that livestreams were actually used most often for training-related purposes in 2015.
If you have teams scattered across the nation or the globe, live video can be a lifesaver. You can use livestreams to conduct product demonstrations, shareholders meetings, and quarterly earnings reports. You can also brief new hires and train sales representatives.
Livestreaming has the potential to be used in multiple facets of business—not just marketing. It’s a powerful new tool for boosting communication within your company. And it can also used to create meaningful customer experiences that are informative, entertaining, and beneficial to your audience.
As such a young medium, live video is expected to go through many big changes over the next few years. After all, Meerkat was the darling of the livestream video world just a year ago, but due to competition from Periscope and Facebook, the company is ditching livestreaming and repositioning itself as a social network.
We should also see social platforms start to host more of their own live video capabilities and build engaged audiences. Brands are often still expected to bring their own audiences to Periscope and YouTube streams, but what if there was a built-in audience ready to engage with their content and return for more?
Facebook is already ahead of the game on that front, since the network just announced a set of new features for Facebook Live. These include Snapchat-style filters, viewer metrics, live comments, and a map of broadcasts happening across the globe. Showing its seriousness about live video, Facebook will also give Live a front-and-center tab on its mobile app.
It’s clear that live video adoption will continue to growing—and it’s going to happen fast. Brands that want a piece of the action shouldn’t wait for the next development. They should be drafting their strategies now and using the opportunity to be face-to-face with their consumers.
Livestreaming is set be the next big thing for brands. Will your brand be the next big thing for livestreaming?