Live streaming is the newest craze. It feels like almost every social media and video platform is incorporating it to help each person get their 15 minutes of fame. So, of course, marketers want to get involved too.
Now, before you dive into the world of live streaming, there are some things you need to prepare for, especially how it could fit into your current marketing strategies. If done well, live streams can be a great way to engage with your audience, but done poorly, can just waste your time and annoying your followers.
The purpose of your live streams
Before you turn on the camera, you need to determine what you want to accomplish with your live streams. A lot of planning needs to take place before you go live each time, and you should carefully consider what benefits it can bring to your business.
To accomplish this, first look at what kinds of live streams your target market watches. Is it for entertainment, education, shopping, or business? What they look for in live streams can influence choices like what platforms to stream on, the type of content you’ll provide, and what times you will stream.
For example, if you are looking to entertain people to improve your reach, you’ll want to go on a site that people go to in order to watch live streams, like Twitch. But, if you want to run a live webinar or a business panel, hosting it on your site with a third-party app or on widely accessible platform like YouTube or Facebook might be the way to go.
Increasing your brand awareness
Live streaming is a powerful way to increase public awareness of your brand. By focusing on broad subjects and entertainment that lots of people can enjoy, it is possible to get your brand and what you do in front of tons of people.
This broad topic should be loosely tied to your industry but easy enough to watch that people will be willing to stay with it for an extended period of time. This could be live coverage of a large event, engaging in a form of entertainment people enjoy watching, or hosting a panel with several large industry influencers. It could also include live streaming with a specific paid influencer you are already working with to increase your reach.
The subject matter is very important. Delving too deep into your marketing funnel will lead to people not wanting to watch. The live stream needs to be about something fun to watch but still connected enough to your business that they will investigate you further.
Making connections with your followers
One major benefit to live streaming is being able to connect directly with your followers and receive instant feedback. At any moment during a stream you can see how many people are watching, any comments they have, and on certain platforms, simply gauge reactions like likes and emoji.
That means that you can make strong connections to followers and respond directly to their comments. Q&A sessions are a common live stream tactic to interact with followers. That way, you can address concerns and questions leads and customers have that need to be answered, but often aren’t big enough to warrant them reaching out to customer support.
Another way to make connections is to have a live demo of your product and let viewers direct what they want to see. This is extremely helpful if it’s hard to display what your product does or it can accomplish so many things that displaying all the features could be entertaining.
Platforms and devices
The relationship between which live streaming platforms and what kind of devices people are watching on is an essential consideration. If a lot of your consumers use computers to visit your site, then use a platform that is friendly to a desktop interface. On the other hand, there are many platforms designed to work best on mobile.
Picking the right platform requires looking at your analytics and seeing which could get you the most engagement. For example, in the hotel industry, about half of all site traffic comes from mobile devices, so live streaming in this instance should include a platform easily accessible to both computers and smartphones.
It also matters how you film your life stream too. As a business, how you film should match both your brand and the devices people are watching on. If most people watching you are on smartphones, filming vertically to match how they hold their phones might be beneficial. On the other hand, watching a vertically filmed video on a PC is frustrating and could lead to people leaving your stream.
Gathering data for future efforts
Live streams can be a place to explore different topics and experiment. What is cool about the live streaming process is that if something isn’t working, you can change and adapt on a dime. Then, as you measure your analytics in the live stream, you can track what kinds of things got the most engagement.
The information from live streams, especially those hosted on social media platforms, can be extremely useful in guiding your social media strategies. If people have a lot of comments or questions about a specific thing that comes up in a Q&A session, you can cover it more in posts or blog articles.
Protecting yourself and viewers while live streaming
With new technology comes new security risks. It is possible when going live that, if you are in a public space, people could identify where you are, putting you at risk. When possible, try to disguise your location. If you must be in public, don’t be alone.
There is also a danger with the intractable nature of live streaming. If you allow comments on the internet, people are going to abuse the privilege and say/share inappropriate things. Some live streaming apps allow comments to be put on a delay to allow a little moderation to prevent it, but if you interact with people on Twitter or Facebook, there are no moderation options
Finally, protect your identity while streaming. Because of the immediate and intimate nature of streaming, it is possible to reveal personal information without realizing it. During streams like Q&As where you talk back and forth with watchers, information that one wouldn’t think to protect, but are used as security questions, can come out. Cyber criminals and fraudsters could then use that information to either breach accounts or use it as a springboard to skim for more data for illicit activities.
Synergy with your other marketing
Live streaming brings a lot of benefits to a marketing strategy, but it can get easy to get too caught up in it, especially if you stream on a regular schedule. Live streaming takes time and a lot of effort in production value to be high quality, so it becomes important to balance it with your other marketing tactics.
Whatever purpose your live streams have, use them to push people further down your marketing funnel. Have call to actions both during and at the end of your streams that can lead people to eventually making a purchase. Failing to do this minimizes the effectiveness of your live streams and, in a sense, wastes your time. Succeeding could be what pushes your marketing and business to the next level.