The most powerful new tool for marketing your business boasts a huge audience potential, user-friendly interfaces, eye-catching advertising integrations — and is probably already in your pocket.
It’s live video, and you can create and consume it using your smartphone.
Although it’s still the newer kid on the marketing block, live video streaming is already racking up some impressive numbers.
The remarkable growth of live video
Live video has sprouted like a weed, and it's destined to take over significant space in the marketing and advertising world. In the highest profile example, 4.6 million people used the technology to watch Donald Trump’s U.S. presidential inauguration in January — the largest live video audience ever thus far, according to Akamai figures.
According to a recent study by the UBS Evidence Lab, 36 per cent of surveyed Internet users said they had watched live video. Probably no surprise, Millennials were even bigger fans of live video: 63 per cent of them had watched it and 42 per cent of them had created it.
The medium's future is looking even brighter. Cisco researchers estimate that by 2021, live mobile video traffic will have grown 39 fold since 2016 and will represent five per cent of all mobile video traffic.
Business uses are widespread, and many are adopting the technology for various purposes. As reported by TechTarget, a Wainhouse Research survey of 1,801 organizations already using live video found that more than one quarter (27 per cent) of them produced at least 50 live stream events in 2016. That’s up from 21 per cent in 2015 and works out to almost one live stream per week.
How to use live video in your company
Your business might want to experiment with live video by trying it out internally first — for example, used as part of employee training, company meetings or staff announcements. Once your organization becomes comfortable with how it works, extend the technology to external activities such as live product launches and product demos.
Corporate events provide another opportunity. If you’re planning a conference, promote it ahead of time by streaming a live tour of the venue or a Q&A with one of the scheduled speakers. You can also live stream the keynote once the event is underway.
Finding talent is tough, but live streaming could become part of your recruiting efforts. Create a behind-the-scenes video showing what your company does or do a walk-and-talk showing what it’s like to work there. And to brand your firm as a thought leader, assemble one or more experts from your staff and live stream them commenting on breaking news or hot trends affecting your industry.
Top live video apps
Live video technology is proliferating and evolving very rapidly. Case in point: startup Meerkat emerged as the leader in the space at the 2015 South By Southwest conference. Just a year later, however, Meerkat scrapped its app after it was dwarfed by aggressive competition from Facebook and Periscope.
Before hopping in feet first, it's worth checking out the variety of options in the space, including these top networks serving up live video:
This is the most popular live video app today, according to that UBS Evidence Labs study. The app’s privacy settings offer many appealing options to control who sees your live video and who can comment on it during and after the live stream. You can even use the ‘Only Me’ privacy setting to practice before actually going live.
The app’s website reminds users that, “by default, (Periscope) broadcasts are public and viewable to anyone.” To limit who can see your live video, you have to create what’s called a ‘private broadcast.’ You can only invite people to a private broadcast if you follow them on Periscope, they follow you or you both belong to the same Periscope group.
As the company’s site explains, “To be eligible to use YouTube Live on mobile, your (YouTube) channel must have more than 10,000 subscribers.” If you want to embed your live stream video on another site (like your corporate website), you must “have an approved AdSense account linked to your YouTube account.” If you're not at that stage yet, it could be time to expand your video content strategy.
This Facebook-owned app just added the option of saving your live video to your phone once it’s finished. Just remember that only the video itself is retained on your phone, not the comments, likes, or tally of the number of likes it generated.
What’s apparent is that the players in this space (and their live video offerings) can change quickly, so be sure to check their websites and app listings for the most up-to-date details before you give them a try.
Tips to get you started
No one watches your live stream if they don’t know about it, so be sure to promote it on social media beforehand. Once you’re rolling, so to speak, make it visually interesting — but secure your phone on a tripod to steady the shot (and rest your arms) during longer stretches.
Repurpose live streaming videos by blogging about them afterward or posting them on your other social media accounts and websites. If you want detailed viewership analytics, you may have to consider enterprise-grade video conferencing software instead of popular free apps.
Get viewers involved by polling them for questions, comments or texts during your live stream. But moderate all of those real-time interactions and make sure you control who can see, share and comment on your video before you go live.
Another thing to lock down before going live is whether you have enough bandwidth. Last May, BuzzFeed’s Facebook Live stream of its interview with Barack Obama froze just before the then-U.S. president arrived for the sit-down. BuzzFeed was forced to redirect viewers to watch it on YouTube — one of Facebook’s biggest rivals.
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