Should you be live streaming?

Live streaming on social media has exploded over the past 12 months, joining the likes of Snapchat, reaction GIFS and memes as the latest online trend to get on board with. Plenty have come and gone as quick as you can say Ello, but live streaming is looking like it might be sticking around for a little while yet. Meerkat was the original pioneer, bursting onto the scene at last year’s SWSX festival and getting plenty of people excited. But social media is a brutally competitive landscape now, and as soon as rival Periscope was gobbled up by Twitter it became the go-to app for live streaming. Now, Facebook offers Live Video whilst YouTube have Live to go along with the original trailblazers - so although it’s clearly a growing area, is it worth it for your business to jump on board in these relatively early stages? Here are a few pointers to help you decide.

How does it work?

One of the most attractive things about live streaming is the pure ease with which you can do it. You can stream a Facebook Live video through the Facebook app on your iOS or Android phone, whilst Periscope live broadcasts can be started through their app with the option to automatically share the video on your Twitter feed. You can pretty much start streaming in 5 minutes from picking up your phone; although YouTube’s offering is a little bit more complicated and requires you to have a verified account with a good standing. Saying that, they have just announced plans to introduce live streaming into their mobile app.

What’s the point?

Live streaming is a great way to connect directly with your audience. It can be a great way to show off the human side of your business by sharing some of the fun, behind-the-scenes stuff that goes on. Now of course that doesn’t mean you should be live streaming your lunch hour - so try and be creative with your live broadcasts.

The best example of this came from January this year, when Newcastle-based marketing agency Drummond Central set up a live feed of a massive puddle outside their office. Sounds pretty dull, right? Well, it ended up becoming a bit of a phenomenon in the UK, trending on Twitter all day and attracting 20,000 live viewers at its peak. What better advert could you have for a creative agency than a live broadcast showing off just how creative they are? It doesn’t come across in any way as a blatant attempt to market themselves, and I would bet good money that they were inundated with new clients shortly afterwards.

It’s quite hard to put into words why exactly this was so entertaining, so maybe it’s best if you just check out one of the many highlights of the puddle. YES, I’m being serious. NO, I’ve not lost my mind.

I don’t think we have anything exciting enough to live stream…

That’s fair enough, and I’m sure this is what pretty much every business is thinking right now. After all, trying to push yourselves onto every social media platform can seem forced and won’t reflect well on you or your business. But considering the ease of live streaming, it’s certainly worth testing the water to see if your audience responds well to what you’re doing. My previous employer would receive potential new products all of the time - live streaming the arrival of them would not only give your customers a glimpse into future products, but would also help you to gauge the potential reaction to the new products.

A strong and engaged Facebook or Twitter following will give you an advantage with this as it gives you an immediate audience to broadcast to, but don’t be afraid to start live streaming from the ground up either. If you’re short on numbers, running a competition on Periscope or Facebook Live could be a great way to give your follower numbers a little boost and see how engaged your current fans are. Perhaps you could slowly reveal a special code through a live stream, which users could then email to you to be in with a chance of winning. Similar to that, another idea could be for a physical retailer to live stream a discount code which customers could then redeem instore.

Summary

There is clearly a long way to go with live streaming, and businesses are certainly still working out the best ways to use it. But the recent improvements announced by YouTube to their live stream offering, together with Facebook’s willingness to get on board, suggest that it’s not going away anytime soon. There haven’t been a huge amount of truly viral campaigns on any of the live streaming platforms so far, so this could be a perfect chance for you to go viral and get some priceless marketing for your business.


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