Live video has arrived and will not be ignored, folks! All major social media platforms are jumping on the live video bandwagon and for good reason. When it comes to video, to quote the Madison-formed-turned-Austin-transplant band Timbuk 3, “Things are going great, and they’re only getting better.”
Video continues to be a format that’s easily digestible, flexible and convenient, allowing viewers to pick and choose when and how they tune in. Forrester Research’s Dr. James McQuivey estimates a video is more powerful than 1.8 million words, and that’s evident in the increased traffic, higher engagements and more conversions brands are experiencing. And live video is proving to be an even stronger force, with watch times stretching three times longer than archived video, per Facebook.
IT leader Cisco predicts 80 percent of internet traffic will be video by 2019—which is just two years away. As brands and agencies have found ways to create compelling videos on significantly smaller production budgets, price has all but disappeared from the bank of excuses to avoid video. For live video, it’s even more true because all you have to do is point your phone and go live. That isn’t to say beautifully shot video doesn’t still have its place—but it’s no longer the norm for social media. Importantly, brands are quickly embracing the authenticity that live video inherently provides.
After analyzing some Facebook Live highlights from 2016, we wanted to share the following tips for wading into the waters of live video for your brand, no matter the platform.
Tell a story
Live video leaves behind the high-production-value days of yore but must contain the fundamental cornerstone of any video: a compelling story. Take a topic you may have otherwise only showcased with an image or text and use live video to enhance it. Tiny Kitchen, for example, is an interesting concept all on its own—but when they show someone creating miniature culinary masterpieces in real time, it becomes eyeball superglue.
Build suspense and entertain
Much like news anchor Jason Carr and the Chewbacca Mom, live video allows you to go beyond a simple status or photo and create a live event that unveils something new or unexpected or maybe even fun–it builds suspense and provides entertainment. This cultivates real-time engagement from viewers and increasing view time. Were you one of the 800 thousand viewers eye guzzling BuzzFeed’s exploding watermelon Facebook Live video or was that just me?
In all successful live video, not only is the brand or person genuine but so is the experience. Chewbacca Mom’s authentic reaction to her coveted purchase generated a lot of laughs and a lot of sales for Kohl’s—causing the mask to sell out. Her riveting off-the-cuff review also created a surge in Chewbacca mask sales for other online retailers.
Another good example is Tough Mudder, which extends its brand by deploying trainers for weekly training videos. Through these, viewers can train (virtually) alongside the kind of people they will see and compete with at the live event. They can even ask questions in the moment!
The takeaway? True connections are made when you use live video to highlight who you are and what your brand stands for. In short, be real, be you.
Ask for engagement
In addition to front-lines access to exclusive content, viewers love live video for the direct, real-time engagement with the brand.
Benefit Cosmetics engages with viewers consistently through its weekly series “Tipsy Tricks,” which provides how-to makeup tips and tutorials. While these could be easily pre-recorded, Benefit is taking it a step further by asking viewers what they want to see and what they like. Then, the brand has experts answer those questions in the moment—meanwhile gleaning ideas for future video content the target will value (a win for the brand and viewers alike).
What are some ways you can make live video a true experience for your fans?
Prepare as best you can
Treat live video like any other live event and plan as much as possible but don’t forget that all the plans in the world mean nothing if you never act on them. Who is speaking on your brand’s behalf, and what training do they need? How will you address technical issues, and how can you solve for them in advance? What will you do if something goes wrong in the moment?
Lastly, take comfort in knowing—at least based on some examples we saw in 2016—that your audience will be forgiving in exchange for your authenticity. And if at first you don’t succeed, go live, go live again.