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Going live - the content revolution

We’ve all scrolled through our social media platforms and been hit with a ‘so-and-so is live’ notification. But we’re not just talking about someone’s availability to send you nudges and emojis anymore… we’re talking about live video – the most successful digital marketing tactic to hit our screens since cookies and trawling.

It’s no secret that video performs incredibly well online. 55% of people watch videos online every day and 59% of business executives agree that they’re more likely to choose video over text. We like video, we engage with it and – more importantly – we are influenced by it.

Deloitte’s survey found that approximately three in four millennials aged 19-32 say their buying decisions are more influenced by social media recommendations than by TV ads. In other words, if you’re not utilising live video, you’re not engaging with a large chunk of the savvy consumer market.

Phone on instagram live

So, what’s with live video?

Why is it better than standard video? Why should digital marketers be implementing it in their strategies?

It’s all down to psychology.

Firstly, we’ve been obsessed with live TV for decades. The suspense of a live football match is riveting; the excitement of watching your favourite performer live on stage is intense. We love the anything-could-happen element of unscripted broadcasting; coupled with the voyeuristic thrill of watching real unedited people.

Secondly: FOMO = Fear of missing out. You know the feeling when you see all your friends hanging out on their Snap-stories at an event that you weren’t invited to? That’s how live video makes you feel… if you miss it. Sure, your friends can tag you in an old video on Facebook, but if they’re all talking about a live video that you didn’t tune in for, you’ll be left out. This fear of missing out is what creators and businesses are capitalising on.

Finally, live video appeals to the instant gratification that makes X-gens and millennials tick. Broadcasters and viewers can engage with each other in real time, whilst reaching an unlimited audience. Facebook Live’s ‘reactions’ allow viewers to express themselves instantaneously; the broadcaster gets immediate feedback and the viewers can witness how others respond and participate.

camera facebook live

How are marketers utilising this far reaching and massively engaging tool, I hear you ask.

Well, one of the most watched live videos to date is Buzzfeed’s watermelon vs. elastic band video – yes really! If you’re not familiar, the video documents Buzzfeed employees gradually stretching rubber band after rubber band over a watermelon until the poor fruit explodes. Almost 1 million viewers tuned in to the 45 minute live video.

Whilst some companies and creators use the ad hoc approach, many businesses have created a live ‘schedule’, as it were. Brands such as Benefit, Huda Beauty and Birchbox use regular live sessions to broadcast and demonstrate new products and offer exclusives. This harks back to the FOMO incentive. Knowing that brands may include sneak-peeks and deals in their live content, encourages you to tune in.

Celebrities and influencers use live video as personal marketing. Big YouTube names such as Alex Steinherr and Fleur De Force use Facebook’s Live feature to host ‘exclusive’ Q&A sessions – allowing direct communication with your favourite creators and pulling back the curtain on their lives.

How is live video relevant to my small business?

There are several ways in which small businesses can implement live video into their marketing strategy. Firstly, it can be used to add personality to your company or brand. You’ll connect with your customers by treating them to the inside scoop; possibly an office tour, a day in the life of an employee or an introduction to what you do. Live video, as previously mentioned, lends itself perfectly to product unboxings and demonstrations.

Whilst it is important not to use live video as a hard-sell tool, it can be beneficial for potential customers to see your products in action. After all, actions speak louder than words. Got an announcement? Shout it out over live video. Share the fact that your company is having a sale, discuss big news in your industry – this sort of broadcasting will make you stand out in your field and display your knowledgeability to your customers.

I’m in. How do I get started?

– First off, you need to cultivate a list of potential videos. There’s no sense in diving in with a video a day and stopping dead when you’ve run out of ideas. Try to come up with a mix of ideas that showcase all sides of the business whilst remaining professional and true to your brand.

– Keep your audience in the loop. If you already use e-mail marketing, let your customer base know that you’re coming live to a screen near them. Announce your ‘live times’ on Facebook a few days or hours before – you don’t want to feel like you’re talking to an empty room.

– Consider your setting. We’re not suggesting you go out and invest in a full light studio, but a good quality live stream will retain viewers for longer. Speak clearly, use a portable tripod for stability, consider the lighting and background noise. Lights, iPhone, action.

– Educate yourself. Even digital marketing aficionados need to brush up on their skills in an ever-changing online universe. Keep yourself abreast of new marketing trends and continue learning when you can. If you’re serious about marketing, digital marketing courses are a fantastic investment in your future.

Live streaming video can be a powerful tool when used methodically and regularly. It sets your brand apart from the rest of the industry by exhibiting what makes you unique. People buy from people – so showing the world a real-time time, a behind the scenes view of you and your business could help retain current customers for longer and encourage new customers to join your tribe.

Now go and charge your phone, turn up the lights and happy filming!