Where in-person events aren’t possible anymore, live streams are the next best thing. But even before, and surely after the pandemic, live streaming events and videos are here to stay. It’s a great way for businesses to connect with their audience all over the world in real-time.
What are the actual benefits of live engagement with your audience? How do you make sure your live sessions are a success?
Live streaming was popular before COVID-19, but—unsurprisingly—it saw immense growth, especially during the first few months of lockdowns and canceled events.
The entire sector grew by 45% from March to April. The biggest contributor to this growth was the live-streaming Platform Twitch. In terms of viewed hours, they jumped by 50% from March to April. Compared to the year before, it was a 101% growth. A sloppy 1.645 billion hours of live-streamed content are being watched on the platform—a month.
But other platforms benefited from the stay-at-home orders too. Instagram saw a 70% increase in Instagram Live usage in mid-to-late March compared to February. Meanwhile, on Facebook, the number of Live viewers in the US increased with 50%.
Were we all watching the same things? Not at all. The beauty of livestreaming is that virtually anyone can do it, and give you a peek in their daily life or have a chat. You’d be surprised to find out how niche live-streaming can be.
Because it wasn’t just fitness instructors pushing us through the lockdown. Fashion and beauty brands hopped on too, entertaining their fans with life advice, styling and answering questions. Even farmers made their way to live-streaming platforms.
In China, it started an almost entirely new industry: farmers would livestream their daily chores, give tours of their flower-filled fields, and then sold their flowers and products in connected webshops. Growers who had once sold 90% or more of their products offline have now flipped to selling nearly 90% online.
In that way, live streaming helped businesses who used to solely depend on offline shoppers to survive the pandemic, a time in which only online shopping was possible.
But even if you’re not a farmer in rural China, there are plenty of reasons to start livestreaming. Here’s why livestreaming is a strong marketing tool.
Eight in ten consumers prefer live video over blogs or social media posts. And it doesn’t stop there. When someone enjoys the video ad they’re watching-which you can consider livestreams to be-purchase intent goes up by 97%.
Why is watching a live stream so much more appealing than reading a blog? It’s safe to say the human element plays a big part in this. You’re not reading anonymous words, but see another human being talking about something in real-time, unscripted. It’s perceived as more authentic—because it is. If done right.
Having another person at the other side of the screen and actually being able to interact with them in real-time, fosters a stronger connection between brands and consumers.
Live content is more interactive and engaging—you can't look away, because you might miss something. Brands can also encourage active participation from their viewers and speak to them directly—with the world watching. Daring? Yes. But it pays off.
How many views or likes did your last Instagram post yield? If you’ve been struggling with growing your reach across social media platforms, going live might be the cure. Algorithms love live-streamed content and push it to their users, more than any other kind of content. That means your content will get more attention on our news feeds. Great, right?
If you urgently have something exciting to share, you can't count on the algorithm to show it to your followers before its old news. Except for when you use live streams.
Live content is the best way to keep your audience up to date on industry news, product launches or other updates from your business. And being the first to tell them about new things, cements your status as an industry leader as it builds credibility and trust.
Now, we don’t encourage you to simply go live and wait for the viewers to join. Let’s look at seven essential tips that will help you turn your live engagement marketing into a success.
The most successful brands going live, are doing so great because they've done their homework beforehand. They know their audience like no other: what do they want to see, what kind of content is appealing to them, and in what format should it be delivered?
If you’re considering adding live streams to your content, now is a great time to get to know your audience better. You want your live stream to be relevant and exciting enough to them to tune in.
Another great thing about livestreams is the data and insights they give you afterward. Always take a look at the numbers and find out who actually was in your audience and at what moments they interacted with your live stream most—or when they decided to leave.
That’s right. If you want your live-streams to be really relevant to your customers, it isn't just about what you say. Don't prepare a monologue and turn it off as soon as you’ve said your thing: let your viewers talk, too.
You can do this in various ways, for instance by holding live Q&A sessions. If the topics you'll be covering require a bit more preparation, you can also ask your followers to send in questions beforehand.
Make sure to mention who asked the questions though—to make it all the more human. People will be able to tell when you came up with questions yourself. And it’s not a good look.
To take it to the next level, apps like Instagram also allow you to share the screen with your viewers and let them make an appearance in your live stream. This is especially fun when you’re hosting a workshop for instance, and participants can show their progress or questions with others. It’s as close you can get to real life interactions.
Live streams aren't ads. Your product won't be the shining star of the show. Whether people tune in and decide to keep watching highly depends on the host of your live stream.
You’ll want your audience to hang on every word they speak. So make sure you’ve got the right employee or influencer to do the job.
This doesn't mean you need great actors or speakers: you'll want someone who is relevant and knowledgeable on the topic you're going to be covering. If you don't have the budget to hire huge influencers, look at micro-influencers or have a wildly enthusiastic employee do their thing. Remember, it’s all about being authentic: you’re not shooting an ad.
Yes, we said that livestreams shouldn't be scripted, and we’re sticking to that. But that doesn't mean you should just leave it all to chance.
If you want your live stream to be a success and the authenticity of it to be the star of the show, make sure there are no distractions. Try going live in a private group before you go live for your entire audience. You can do so by creating a private Facebook group or creating a test account on Instagram. This can help you practice and get the hang of live engagement.
Make sure your connection is steady, the lightning is good and there are no (sudden) background noises. And don't be afraid to talk to yourself a little while you're in there—it’s a nice warm-up before the big show.
One live stream won't do much. They’re effective, sure, but not that effective.
Just like blogging or keeping your Instagram up to date, make live streams a reoccurring piece of content in your strategy. With at least one livestream a week, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to check in with your followers, and for them to check in with you.
This will help you build viewers and engagement. When viewers come back for more they get used to the interaction, and you’ll be able to grow a community. Everyone wins.
And not about how everything looks on screen. You really don’t need fancy equipment such as HD cameras or a big ring light. People are aware that they are not looking at a million-dollar production on Netflix: they’re here for what you (or they) have to say.
So, put content and the concept of your live shows first. What will you be talking about, how will the conversation be structured: that’s way more important in love content than the number of pixels you’re appearing in.
One of the strong suits of live content is the spontaneity it allows. Don't create concepts that are too rigid and where you can't go off script: if the audience or mood asks for it, go for it!
Experiment with different kinds of formats and check your analytics to see what works best. This will help you create a mix of content that is relevant to all your followers.
Live-streaming is not a temporary replacement for in-person events. For businesses of the future, it is a new kind of key piece in their content. Surprise your audience by going live: add value, be uncommon, and watch the live engagement boost.