- Livestreaming allows users to broadcast live footage over the internet to a target audience.
- Social media platforms have made livestreaming cheaper and simpler than ever for small businesses to use.
- Livestream video is an effective digital marketing tool that can help you reach your audience, expand your brand and drive more sales.
- This article is for small business owners and marketers looking to create livestream video content to engage and build their audiences.
Whether hosting a live event or creating a tutorial, video content has become the go-to option for small businesses. As video and livestreaming become more widely used on social media apps, companies can now deliver compelling, emotionally engaging content to a wider audience and forge a strong brand connection.
Live video content has a way of demystifying the humanlike relationship between brand and customer, creating a more familiar feeling that is often the first step to brand loyalty. But just how effective is livestream marketing, and what benefits can you expect from a successful campaign? Here’s how to create and use livestream video content as part of your digital marketing strategy to keep your audience engaged and help build your powerful brand.
What is livestreaming?
Video livestreaming is, quite simply, the act of transmitting live footage over the internet to an active target audience. In the past, livestreaming was typically done on a dedicated streaming platform. Today, social media has expanded the reach of livestreaming, making live broadcasts a key component of social media marketing and streaming features available on multiple platforms.
“For the first time, small businesses can really experiment with video as a means of communication,” said Tom More, founder and CEO of creative multimedia company Promo.com. “Livestreaming is not a new app; there’s nothing new they need to learn, because it’s built into social media. I think what’s happening now will help empower them in new ways.”
While streaming platforms like Ustream (now IBM Cloud Video) have long been hosting live videos, social media’s step into livestreaming territory represents a real opportunity for startups and small businesses to quickly get their messages out at little cost.
Livestream video is a versatile tool that offers audiences a clearer window into your business. You can use live video content to give sneak peeks at upcoming products, do demonstrations, broadcast an event or even collaborate with influencers to amplify your message. Another popular use of livestreaming is to host a webinar where the audience can interact with the presenter, ask questions and dive deep into a specific topic.
We’ve detailed the livestreaming capabilities from some of the most popular social media platforms.
On Instagram Live, you can collaborate with guests and other accounts, ask viewers featured questions to foster engagement, and add filters to a livestream. Once your live feed is over, you can add the video to your business’s stories or share it to IGTV, where it can live longer than 24 hours. [Check out these ways to use Instagram for business.]
Facebook Live allows you to see the names, comments and number of viewers in real time, which means you can modify your livestream content in the moment to best engage with whoever is watching. The video then automatically saves to your business page once the live feed is over.
Because Facebook owns Instagram, it’s possible to livestream simultaneously on the two platforms as long as your business accounts for each platform are linked.
Because Twitter primarily features an endless scroll of tweets, a livestream is a great way to stand out. Once your livestream is done, you can post the full video to your timeline.
LinkedIn is a bit more complicated than the other social networks when it comes to starting a live video, but it’s becoming more popular on the site. You must first create an event on your business page and see if your account meets the criteria for LinkedIn Live streaming. If you’re eligible, there will be a LinkedIn Live drop-down option for the event format. [Learn more about using LinkedIn professionally.]
TikTok is one of the fastest-growing social media networks around and is known for short, engaging videos. While there is a popular livestreaming capability, your account must be eligible to have that option. Among the eligibility requirements are having more than 1,000 followers and adhering to community guidelines.
Which platform is best for your business?
The number of social media platforms that can feature livestreaming content can be overwhelming. Above all, it’s important to understand your target customers and which social media platform they primarily use. For example, ages 30 to 49 use Facebook, while ages 18 to 29 mostly use Instagram, according to Pew Research Center. Researching your target audience will allow you to meet your audience where they already are and get your content in front of the people likely to engage with your business.
Tip: The best marketing automation software can streamline your social media, email and website marketing with automated workflows.
What are the benefits of livestream marketing?
With a host of other digital marketing tools at your disposal, you might be wondering whether producing live broadcasts is worthwhile. After all, what is live video content going to do that a traditional marketing campaign cannot? Well, the statistics on livestreaming marketing strategies speak for themselves: Live video is simply more engaging for the audience.
- Audiences prefer live video. Research from Livestream.com and New York Magazine shows that 80% of audiences prefer live video to written blog content, while 82% prefer live video to traditional social posts.
- Live video works. Video content is engaging and helps spur your target audience to action. According to Livestream’s research, nearly 40% of executives place a call to a vendor after watching a video. What’s more, livestream marketing is inexpensive, making it easy to secure a return on investment (ROI). About 73% of B2B businesses using live video to reach their target audience report positive results on their ROI.
- Livestream marketing increases conversions. The end goal of any digital marketing tactic is to drive sales and increase conversions. Livestream marketing can boost sales intent among your target audience by 97% and solidify brand association by 139%, Livestream found in its study. Those are some serious benefits right off the bat. [Related content: The 3 C’s of Driving Sales]
- A livestream video has short- and long-term use. In addition to the immediate benefits of broadcasting live, there are uses for your video even after the stream is over. The recording can be repurposed as fresh video content for your business’s website. Video content strategically placed on a landing page can increase conversions by 80% or more, while 64% of users are more likely to buy a product online after watching a video.
Livestream video is an effective tool in your digital marketing arsenal that can help you reach your audience, expand your brand and ultimately drive more sales. So how do you go about creating live video content for the first time? There are a few rules to follow for success.
Did you know?: There is a difference between advertising and marketing. Advertising is just one part of a well-rounded marketing plan, which should also include PR efforts and community engagement.
How do I create livestream videos?
requires a strategy, and your livestream should be treated no differently. In fact, sloppy or unplanned videos could damage your brand, as the research study indicated 62% of viewers are more likely to have a negative perception of a brand that produces poor-quality videos. When your brand’s reputation is at stake, it’s worth it to put pen to paper and brainstorm a bit before going live.
“The rules still apply,” said Beth Mock LeBlanc, founder and managing partner of MLB Creative. “You need to have a plan for your live videos; it can’t just be ad lib. Find out what your audience is interested in, and come up with a plan that targets that.”
While planning is important, the beauty of live video is its casual, personable quality, Promo.com’s More said. Striking the right balance between structure and informality is key.
“Livestreaming adds something in terms of honesty,” More said. “From the user’s point of view, it should even seem unrehearsed, but businesses need to rehearse and understand their message.”
Based on the advice of our expert sources, here are a few tips for developing a livestreaming strategy:
- Post a teaser. If people are going to tune in to your livestreams, they need to know when you’ll be on. Sure, anyone in your network may happen upon your stream while online, but you’ll see an improvement in views and audience engagement if you give your followers a heads-up in advance.
- Create a rough script. Livestreaming allows you to show a more authentic, spontaneous and human side to your brand. Still, a meandering or nonsensical stream will leave users feeling confused, which doesn’t lead to many conversions. Draft some bullet points and perform a few dry runs before going live, but avoid being beholden to a specific script.
- Keep your content fresh. Not all livestreams have to feel like advertisements. Users are more likely to engage with content that isn’t a direct pitch. If a customer tells you that they liked the work you did, ask that person if they’ll go live for 30 seconds on your next stream to tell your followers about their experience. Offer tutorials and how-to demos to help your followers solve a problem associated with your industry. Livestream from events like trade shows and community outings. Any type of content that helps you develop a connection between your social media followers and your brand is a success. [Check out these tips for using video conference software more effectively.]
- Remember your brand. As part of your marketing strategy, you should have a brand positioning statement or a simple theme that illustrates why your brand is the best choice for the consumer. Your livestreams represent your brand, so be sure to stay on message and be consistent in the way you approach content creation.
- Sell a feeling. Dry or technical content will never go as far as emotionally driven content, and video is an excellent medium for capturing feelings. Know your audience, their needs and their interests, and then be sure to create engaging livestream content that connects with them. Building the association between your brand and audience is more important than pushing a product.
- Consider incentives. Entice your followers to tune in with deals and specials that are obtainable only through your livestreams. Not only will this increase the potential for conversions, but it will also encourage the growth of your followers over time.
The more your livestream strategy is tailored to your audience’s needs, the better the response will be. A successful video marketing campaign, especially social media-based livestreaming, has the potential to reach well beyond your network.
“People are very engaged with video,” Mock LeBlanc said. “People share video more and search for it more often. If you can come up with some good content, it can be a very effective tool.”
“In social [media], we have something TV didn’t, which is real-time sharing,” More added. “People will give you feedback and share it with their friends, and then you have the ability to retarget those people with something a little more focused on the offering. That makes it real.”
Key takeaway: It’s important to create a comprehensive, long-term strategy for your livestream videos, tailoring it to address your audience’s needs.
Examples of successful livestreams
Businesses have taken advantage of livestreaming for a few years, but the medium rose in popularity after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, when many brick-and-mortar stores were forced to close. Check out how a few businesses successfully used livestreams for their marketing campaigns.
Customer relationship management giant Salesforce used LinkedIn Live to offer an 11-part series that livestreamed their biggest event of the year, Dreamforce. This campaign drew 600,000 organic viewers, with very little drop-off between streams. Salesforce advertised this series well in advance and got viewers excited to tune in each week on LinkedIn, which is where the company has the most followers and follower engagement.
Back in 2016, Kohl’s raised their brand awareness through a livestreamed workout on Facebook Live. The livestream did not offer hard sells of Kohl’s products, but instead featured a free fitness class complete with Kohl’s branding. The video garnered 38,000 viewers and continues to accumulate views on YouTube, where it was posted after the live feed ended, and on Facebook.
Royal Caribbean used the power of social media influencers by having notable travelers with large social media followings do a “takeover” of the Royal Caribbean Periscope account while they traveled on a Royal Caribbean cruise. (Twitter’s Periscope feature is now defunct, but Twitter does still have livestreaming capabilities.) These livestreams brought the influencers’ large followings to Royal Caribbean’s account and ultimately garnered huge viewership numbers. Royal Caribbean also used some of the footage from these livestreams on digital billboards in New York City’s Times Square.
Like all branding and marketing efforts, livestreaming should be all about forging an emotional bond with the potential customer. Deploying relatable, informative and entertaining livestream video in real time on users’ social media feeds is a great way to do exactly that. Livestreaming might capture one specific moment, but the strategy surrounding it is long term in nature.
Adam Uzialko contributed to the writing and reporting in this article. Source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.