Livestreaming video has quickly become a hot trend in digital marketing. Facebook users, for example, spend three times longer watching live video on the social network than video that's pre-recorded.
And innovative brands that were early adopters of livestreaming have already reaped the rewards of this powerful, authentic, engaging, measurable, and cost-effective digital marketing channel—and they continue to do so.
Whether you're now evaluating livestreaming video or you've already decided to use it in your marketing mix, here are six helpful tips to get you started, based on my experience helping Pottery Barn, REI, GoPro, and New Balance harness the power of livestreaming video for the first time.
1. The Right Platform
Choosing the right platform to host your livestreaming video event is key. For a quick, raw, and unmoderated stream, you can use various mobile apps, such as Periscope and Facebook Live. However, those apps are limited in function and don't allow for custom branding or product content outside of the video stream.
For a more branded and moderated experience, you can use an enterprise livestreaming video platform that would allow you to add branding elements to the user experience, that have advanced audience interaction capabilities, and that often allow for content outside the video window (such as product information).
2. The Right Reason
You should have a good reason for doing a live-video-based event versus using an alternative digital marketing tactic.
Certain use cases lend themselves to livestreaming video for marketing purposes, such as a new product launch. Nike, Apple, and Ace Hardware have used live video for this purpose. They put product experts on camera to demonstrate the new product and take questions from the audience.
Another great use case is an event co-presented by both a brand and a retailer that carries that brand. That approach tends to work best when two people are on-camera, one from the brand and one from the retailer.
A final example is to simulcast a live, in-person event over a livestreaming channel to expand audience exposure.
3. The Right Content
Once a platform and use case have been selected, the next step is to create engaging content that is tailored for a broadcast event.
Start with clear business objectives. Is it your intent to sell products? Is it to engage influencers so they will write about the product? Or is it to demonstrate how your product fits into the consumer's lifestyle?
After the objectives are set, decide on the length of the event. If the goal is product sales, I recommend designing a 15-minute sales-oriented pitch (think QVC) and repeating it a couple of times during a one-hour event, leaving time for audience questions. If it is more of a product launch event, consider 30 minutes of content, and allow for 15-30 minutes of audience interaction.
One key to live video events is to not script it too tightly. The audience is looking for authentic human interaction with your brand, not a slick scripted show. Outline the key talking points, create a few slides, and include plenty of time to demonstrate the product. Most important, include tactics that drive audience engagement (such as polls) and leave time to let the audience drive where some of the program content goes from there.
4. The Right On-Camera Personality
Selecting the right on-camera talent is another key to creating an engaging event. The person should be an "insider"—e.g., an employee who knows the product well, has a clear passion for it, and is personable.
The goal is authenticity, which you won't get with a trained actor who is talking about the product only because he or she is getting paid for it. A few on-camera mistakes are OK, because the audience can relate. The result will be the creation of a sense of real human interaction, which is missing from other digital marketing channels.
Another option is to use a paid product endorser, if you have the budget. These personalities, who will help to drive a larger audience, will often make the content more engaging. I recommend pairing an endorser with an on-camera product expert as well, such as a product manager or designer. The product expert can help keep the endorser on message by prompting comments and questions during the event.
5. The Right Production Value
Production values can vary greatly in livestreaming video. The level of production value should match the goals and objectives of the brand and the event.
If you want to use a mobile livestreaming app, then your only choice is to use the built-in camera and microphone in the mobile device. However, if you use an advanced livestreaming video platform, the production can be anything from a single webcam to an in-studio multicamera setup with switching and B-roll video.
Your equipment, such as cameras, microphones, and lights, will have an impact on the production value as well. Determining what equipment is available and setting a budget for new equipment is important.
In my experience, you don't need a camera more expensive than a typical prosumer HDMI "Handycam"-style camcorder. For audio, I suggest using a combination of a camera-mounted shotgun microphone for general coverage, and wireless lavalier microphone for the presenter(s), all connected to a portable USB mixer.
6. The Right Promotion
The motto "build it and they will come" doesn't generally work for live-video events. It takes a well-considered promotion plan to maximize the audience size for your event. I recommend starting your promotion at least four weeks prior to the event.
Use every channel your budget allows for. Your in-house email list is likely the most-cost effective way to drive event attendance, as well as your social media accounts. Set up a registration landing page on your website for the event, and drive people to that page in the promotional email. Starting four weeks prior will give you time to send weekly messages that target list members who did not open or respond to previous messages. Posting to your social channels during this period will be a good compliment to the email promotion.
If you have additional budget, consider digital advertising, such as a display ad network or search engine advertising. Also, if you are introducing a new product or you have a celebrity endorser who will be on-camera, consider doing a press release and related press outreach.
* * *
These six tips should help you get started with smart livestreaming-video marketing. Try it at least once, and measure the results based on the objectives you determine for the attempt. Your company will find that the benefits of the authentic human connection it can bring to your audience will be worth the investment.