Live streaming is no longer about Instagram influencers and video game celebrities. It has become an important part of the marketer’s toolset, giving businesses a new way to boost their reach and improve audience engagement.
From live interviews to public Q&A sessions and more, live streamed content is able to deliver information to users in a way that is difficult to reproduce using regular video.
We’re going to talk about what makes live streaming different from traditional video content, how brands can use that to build better marketing campaigns, and what kinds of tools you need to get started.
What makes live streaming special?
Traditional video content is easy to understand, if difficult to master. It takes most of its production cues from film and TV: Well-written scripts, carefully crafted sets, and extensive post-production processes all play a role in creating great video content.
Live video streaming works differently. While there may be a script, everyone on-screen must be able to improvise when things don’t go as planned. Your set may be nothing more than your own office, and there are no post-production options on the table.
This makes the live streaming format much less demanding in terms of the amount of time it takes to produce content – by the time you finish shooting, it’s already published. But it subtly changes the kind of content you can create, and shifts user expectations at the same time.
But the key difference is the way audiences respond to live streamed content. Instead of passively observing a pre-recorded scenario, audiences can interact with (and influence the outcomes of) live streamed events happening in real-time.
It turns out that this critical difference is an incredibly valuable asset for video marketers.
Live streaming expresses authenticity & builds trust
42% of Americans think that today’s brands and companies are less truthful than they were two decades ago. People who are bombarded with inauthentic advertising during every waking second of their day are understandably reluctant to believe that your brand is somehow different.
Many marketers are understandably hesitant to immediately publish video content the moment they shoot it. With streaming, there is no editing or post-production phase – everything that happens gets broadcast directly to users.
But the fact that you can’t change or edit live streamed content is precisely what makes it so valuable. This is why it builds trust the way traditional video footage cannot.
Live video is more interactive than pre-recorded video
Live streaming enables an unprecedented degree of communication between brands and their audiences. Pre-recorded video is great for many things, but it will never be as interactive as live streamed video is.
This is why some of the most popular live stream formats are explicitly engagement-oriented. For example, a live streamed Q&A session is easy and inexpensive to produce, but generates huge results. The interactivity that this kind of content offers is integral to its value – pre-recording it would make it lose some of its magic. Facebook users are 10 times more likely to engage with a live video than a regular one.
It also helps bridge the gap between people who can witness an event or a conference in person and those who could not make it. People who are invested in finding the latest, most up-to-date information on a topic they care about will subscribe to a live streamed event on that topic even if they are hundreds or thousands of miles away.
Live streaming is cost-effective
One of the most obvious benefits to live streaming is the fact that it generally costs less to produce than pre-recorded video content. This is true both in terms of total cash investment and the average time-to-value for finished pieces of content.
While pre-producing live streamed content can require a great deal of time and money, audiences are consuming the finished product from the moment you hit record. There are no reshoots, no expensive editing sessions, and no need to wait for a post-production specialist to chop up the scene order or make changes to the visual presentation – it goes out exactly the way it is.
This can make live streaming somewhat unpredictable, which is why pre-production is so important. However, the benefits of expressing authenticity and trustworthiness are well worth whatever minor mistakes inevitably make their way into the final product. Nobody expects a polished, Hollywood blockbuster-style live stream performance – and nobody wants one, either.
3 types of live stream content you can start broadcasting today
The best communicators understand that context and content are deeply interrelated. Some mediums are simply better at expressing certain messages than others.
This is why you might not want to live stream a complex event with lots of unpredictable moving parts. Intricate scripted sequences like the kind you would find in an OK Go music video are designed for the traditional video production process.
The key to live streaming success is finding the right mixture of unpredictability (in the form of audience input) and value (from your response). This makes it an ideal medium for a few highly valuable types of video content:
1. Live interviews with industry influencers
Every industry has its own group of high-visibility trendmakers. Contacting big names in your industry and getting them to respond to your (and your users’) questions can be a major boon to publicity.
This type of content requires some planning and advertising to pull off. You need to be able to raise awareness about the event in advance, and create a buzz between your own audience and your interviewee’s audience to ensure a good outcome.
This type of live stream content is great for expanding your audience, stacking alongside flash sales or other promotional events, and boosting user interaction with your brand.
2. Live Q&A sessions; Ask me anything (AMAs)
The Reddit-style AMA session translates wonderfully to live streamed video. It’s an effective tactic for generating new leads, and can result in a significant engagement boost for you and your audience.
The key to making your live Q&A session a success is choosing the right person for the job. Not only does your host need to be knowledgeable enough to answer almost any question someone might have about your business (including challenging ones!) but they must also be comfortable doing so. Don’t pick someone who is easily flustered!
Most managerial and leadership positions are filled by people who can handle this kind of pressure. The benefits of establishing authority in your industry and educating your audience makes it well worth the attempt.
3. Live product launches
Product launches are some of the most live stream-friendly events most organizations host. This has become the go-to tactic for some of the world’s biggest brands – Apple and Google’s live streamed product launches are among the most important events in the tech industry.
In this case, the immediacy of the content’s availability is what makes the difference. Offering live streamed content designed to sell your new product helps to spike that product’s popularity and ensure that your audience is aware of it.
Think of these events as a corporate town hall event. Your company may not be headed by Tim Cook, but there’s no reason why you can’t generate a similar buzz regarding a new feature or product. Most importantly, you know that those who tune-in are incredibly passionate about you and your solution. In most cases, tuning-in to such an event would render a viewer as ‘sales-qualified’.
Live streamed product launches are not just for huge, global enterprises, either. Smaller brands can use live streaming to complement their product launches and focus on maximizing engagement in a way that is impossible to do with a large-scale live streamed event.
Platforms you can use to live-stream
So let’s get down to the nitty gritty of live-streaming.
Like with other business initiatives, it’s always a recommended practice to seek out specialized solutions; the kind that will help you overcome unexpected hurdles and guide you as you familiarize yourself with a new technological avenue.
If you’re intent on creating professional live streams in just a few clicks, explore Restream.io.
Restream enables anyone to live stream to 30+ social platforms, including YouTube, Twitch, Facebook, Periscope at the same time. And with Restream Studio you can easily broadcast professional live streams from your browser to all these social platforms simultaneously. You can basically become a host of your own live show and customize your broadcasts with your own graphics, the way famous YouTubers do.
To provide your audience with a more engaging experience, Restream Studio offers a variety of cool features, such as the ability to conduct live Q&As, and calls-to-action (e.g. Get your 10% discount with promo code “SUMMER10”).
Another great option is Wowza.
A go-to streaming solution for enterprises, Wowza’s platform offers secure, high-quality streaming features, and boasts a long list of impressive customers, such as Sony, NASA and SpaceX. More of a comprehensive solution, Wowza offers a wide suite of streaming-related solutions, including live encoding along with professional engineering services for organizations entirely new to streaming.
Final thoughts and takeaways
Streaming is primed to take center stage during the upcoming decade. WIth a market size projected to reach $184.3 billion by 2027, now is the time to jump aboard this speeding locomotive.
With a very low price of admission, joining the streaming club can expose you and your business to enthusiastic, passionate consumer bases. Be it gamers or YouTube commentators; think of implementing elements incorporated by expert streamers. Setting up apparatus to support live Q&A will transform your stream into an interactive, dynamic experience for your audience.
Zeroing in on your industry influencers and streaming interviews with them will attract the kind of audience that will most likely produce customers. Couple these tactics with streaming live product launch events and you are on the right path towards streaming supremacy.