How brands can integrate live video into their marketing strategy

The marketing world has witnessed a huge explosion of popularity around live video over the past few years. But if you're considering integrating live video into your brand's marketing strategy, where and how should you go about it? Here are are some points to bear in mind.

The marketing world has witnessed a huge explosion of popularity around live video over the past few years. With social media platforms of all kinds jumping on the live streaming bandwagon, the ease of broadcasting live video streams has vastly increased, while the cost and other barriers to entry have significantly decreased.

As a result of this, brands have been experimenting with live video on all sides as a way of engaging their audience in a more immersive, creative and memorable way. We’ve written previously about the vast possibilities that video opens up for brands, allowing them to express themselves in richer ways and tell more impactful stories, and live video is no exception to this rule.

According to research by HubSpot, users are more likely to consume video thoroughly than any other type of content, with 55% of respondents reporting that they pay close attention to video, versus only 27% who do so for blogs.

Statistics from LiveStream have also shown that 80% of audiences would rather watch live video from a brand than read a blog, while 82% prefer live video from a brand to social posts. Data by Research and Markets, meanwhile, puts the potential worth of the video streaming market at more than $70 billion by 2021.

But if you’re considering integrating live video into your brand’s marketing strategy, where and how should you go about it? Here are are some points to bear in mind.

Choosing your platform

There is an increasingly diverse array of live video platforms available to brands now that the medium has taken off. The majority of social media platforms now have their own live streaming solution, YouTube supports live video, and dedicated streaming sites such as Twitch are also available. How should you choose the most suitable one?

Bear in mind where your audience is

The streaming platform with the highest number of overall users isn’t necessarily best, if your target audience is located elsewhere. There’s a lot of buzz around Facebook Live, but if your audience prefers to use Twitter, then Periscope might be a more appropriate platform.

Live video broadcasts will typically send out a push notification to your followers on that network, so consider how many followers you have on your desired social network. Do you want to try and build a bigger following ahead of a potential live video launch?

Evaluate the features of your desired platform(s)

While all of the different websites available to you have the ability to broadcast live video, not all of them do it in the same way. Instagram’s live video feature, for example, is part of its ephemeral Stories feature, and will disappear after viewing. This can help to build urgency, and is more suited to short broadcasts with a casual style.

All live video platforms have the ability for viewers to interact with the broadcast, but in different ways: some only permit commenting, while others (like Facebook and Periscope) allow reactions to the stream as well. When evaluating platforms, think about what kind of interaction you want to encourage from your audience.

One broadcast, or several?

Do you want to concentrate your broadcast on a single platform, or broadcast across several? Of course, several parallel broadcasts require a lot more time and resources to manage, but it can be worthwhile for the increased reach, especially if you want to make live video a key focus of your brand strategy.

If you’re planning to run a regular live video feature, such as a Q&A (more on this below), you could consider starting on one platform and scaling it up to several over time. If you intend for the live broadcast to be a one-time event, it may make more sense to pick the most suitable platform and concentrate on that. However, you can always make use of multiple social networks to build anticipation, and direct viewers towards your broadcast.

Ways to incorporate live video into your marketing

Like pre-recorded video, live video is a versatile medium, and there is a variety of ways you can incorporate it into your marketing strategy, depending on your brand and what you want to achieve with the broadcast.

Before you begin, be sure to set clear goals: are you aiming to raise brand awareness, increase consumer engagement, drive footfall to your physical branch locations, or promote knowledge of how your brand works and what it stands for? Having a clear benchmark for success from the outset will help in judging whether your foray into live video was worthwhile.

Be off-the-wall and creative

Some of the most well-known instances of live video have been bizarre, creative and purely for fun, such as Buzzfeed making a watermelon burst using rubber bands or The LAD Bible leaving popsicles out in the sun to melt. While these are brands who have a reputation for being quirky and off-beat, you can decide whether it fits with your brand to do something a bit more fun.

For example, clothing brand ASOS conceived a wacky brand awareness campaign called ‘1 model x 100 garms’ in which two staff members had 30 minutes to dress a model in 100 different ASOS garments. They gave Facebook followers the opportunity to choose items before the broadcast, adding to the sense of fun and consumer interaction.

The video had the dual benefit of creating brand awareness and engaging consumers in a light-hearted way, and showing off the ASOS product range on camera. To date, the video has gained more than 63,000 views on Facebook.

Organize a Q&A session

Live video can be a great way to promote brand transparency and give your consumers a peek “behind the scenes” of your brand, making key brand figures available to answer questions from customers in real-time. Alternatively, you can use this format to showcase your individual area of expertise.

Experian, for example, bills itself as “the world’s leading global information services company”, and in keeping with this, organizes a regular #CreditChat to answer questions about personal finance, encouraging audience members to ask questions in real-time.

Take consumers behind the scenes of your brand

As mentioned above, live video is excellent for “behind the scenes” brand content, either by giving consumers a channel for interacting with key figures at your brand, or (more suited to a visual medium like live video) physically taking them behind the scenes to see how products at your brand are created.

Dunkin’ Donuts, for example, used its first ever live video to give viewers a tour of the Dunkin’ Donuts “test kitchen”, showcasing how new creations are made, and culminating in the assembly of a gigantic, tiered donut wedding cake – all timed to coincide with the build-up to Valentine’s Day.

This helped ensure the brand was front of mind around a heavily dessert-themed holiday – and after all, who doesn’t crave donuts after watching a video like the one below?

Broadcast a key brand event, product launch or giveaway

Consider adding an extra dimension to campaigns you’ve already planned by broadcasting them via live video: for example, the opening of a new flagship store, a conference or other event, the launch of a new product line, or a flash sale.

Chevrolet became the first auto brand to livestream on Facebook in 2016 when it revealed the all-electric 2017 Chevy Bolt EV at the Consumer Electronics Show, racking up 58,000 views and more than 800 comments from car enthusiasts.

If you have a physical store or stores, you can combine live video with location marketing to drive foot traffic to your location, building a buzz ahead of time and then streaming the event.

Integrate live video with influencer marketing

Influencer marketing is another hot trend for brands looking for new ways to connect with their consumer base, and if you already work with an influencer or influencer(s), consider involving them in your live video broadcast.

Platforms like Periscope and YouTube Live also have their own live video influencers. In 2015, Nestlé Drumstick collaborated with Periscope influencers to produce a series of live streams for its #FirstDayofSummer campaign, which broke new ground in live video marketing. While there are only a handful of live video influencers currently with significant followings, more established social media and YouTube influencers could make the crossover to live video as it gathers steam.

Live video is also well-suited to product demonstrations, and you could potentially combine this with influencer marketing by having your influencer demonstrate a product.

However your brand chooses to do live video, remember to keep an open mind about the possibilities of the medium. Ultimately, live video isn’t for every brand – but don’t be afraid to branch out and try new things. Share your experiences and plans for live video in the comments below.

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