Whether for hosting a live event or creating a tutorial, video content has become the go-to option for small businesses. Video is an engaging medium that grabs the audience's attention and allows businesses to not just sell products but engage in brand-building efforts as well. With it being cheaper and simpler to employ professional-grade video than ever, companies can deliver compelling, emotionally engaging content to consumers and forge a strong brand connection. Social media especially serves as a vehicle to deliver video content directly to users' screens. This is embodied in the rise of livestream marketing.
A livestream broadcast might initially seem like it would be more useful for a journalist than for a business, but there are many ways livestreaming fits into a digital marketing campaign. Here's how to create and use livestream video content that will keep your audience engaged and help build your 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 platform. Today, social media has expanded the reach of livestreaming to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, making the live broadcast a key component of social media marketing. [Check out these ways to use Instagram Live for business.]
"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 Slidely. "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 IBM Cloud Video (formerly Ustream) have long been hosting live videos, social media's step into livestreaming territory presents a real opportunity for startups and small businesses to quickly get their messages out at little cost. [Read related article: How to Use Twitter Video to Tell Better Stories on Social Media]
Livestream video is a versatile tool that offers audiences a clearer window into your business. You can use live video content to offer sneak peeks at upcoming products, create demonstrations or how-to videos, broadcast an event, or collaborate with social media influencers to amplify your message. Another popular use of livestreaming is to host a webinar, where the audience can interact with a presenter, ask questions and dive deep into a specific topic.
Successful campaigns will position your brand as an authority in its space, as well as creating an emotional connection with your audience. Live video content has a way of demystifying the relationship between brand and customer, creating a more familiar feeling that is the first step on the road to brand loyalty. But just how effective is livestream marketing, and what benefits can you expect from a successful campaign?
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? The statistics speak for themselves: Live video is simply more engaging for the audience.
- Audiences prefer live video. Research from Livestream and New York Magazine shows that 80% of audiences prefer live video to blog content, while 82% prefer live video to social posts.
- Live video works. Video content is engaging and helps spur your target audience to action. Video embedded in an email, for example, could double or even triple your click-through rates. Nearly 40% of executives place a call to a vendor after watching a video. Best of all, livestream marketing is inexpensive, making it easy to secure a return on investment. About 73% of B2B businesses using live video to reach their target audience report positive results to their ROI.
- Livestream marketing increases conversions. The end goal of any digital marketing tactic is to drive sales and increase conversions. Livestream marketing boosts sales intent amongst your target audience by 97% and solidifies brand association by 139%. Those are some serious benefits right off the bat. 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.
How do I create livestream ads?
Not all live videos are created equal. Developing an effective video ad campaign requires a strategy, and your live footage should be treated no differently. In fact, sloppy or unplanned video could damage your brand, as 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 beforehand.
"The rules still apply," said Beth Mock LeBlanc, chief creative officer, founder and managing partner at 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, More said. Striking the right balance between structure and comfort 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 things to keep in mind when 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 engagement if you give your followers a heads-up.
Create a rough script. Livestreaming allows you to show a more authentic, spontaneous and human side to your brand. Still, a meandering or nonsensical video 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 and tell your followers about their experience. Offer tutorials and how-to videos to help your followers solve a problem associated with your industry. Livestream 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.
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 advertisements will never go as far as emotionally driven content, and video is an excellent medium for capturing feeling. Know your audience, their needs and their interests, and then be sure to create engaging 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 with deals and specials that are only obtainable through your livestreams. Not only will this increase the potential for conversions through that channel, but it will also encourage the growth of your followers over time. Livestreaming might capture one specific moment, but the strategy surrounding it is long-term in nature.
The better your 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, Mock LeBlanc said.
"People are very engaged with video," she 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, 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."
Like all branding and marketing efforts, livestreaming should be all about forging an emotional bond with the potential customer. Deploying relatable, informative and entertaining video in real time on users' social media feeds is a great way to do exactly that.
Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.