Even before Chewbacca Mom, live streaming was picking up pace as The New Thing in social media.
It started with Meerkat and Periscope (an app bought Twitter before it even launched), which meant a lot of experimentation from people and brands alike. Once the platform was established as an area with promise, Facebook showed up to stake its claim on the live broadcast action.
With Facebook on board with Facebook Live, live streaming is entering the mainstream. It won’t be long before it’s commonplace for brands to broadcast this way.
There are dozens of uses for the platform, and it’s up to you which ones will work for you, but here are some reasons why you should consider live streaming.
If social media gives your brand a human voice, live streaming gives it a human face.
Increasingly consumers engage with brands on a level beyond products. This is easier when the brand is authentic, and doesn’t consist of copy/paste customer service, ads and ‘banter’, but rather as humans who can connect with the customer naturally.
Research from Cohn & Wolfe shows that consumers define brand authenticity with three Rs. – reliable, respectful and real.
Where brands fall down is that third R, real. In particular, the research shows that people feel that brands don’t communicate honestly. Live streaming is one way to correct that. There’s nowhere to hide when you’re live, and consumers respect that.
Brands that appear to consumers as open, honest and credible are rewarded with increased loyalty and more word-of-mouth recommendations.
Show your brand in action
When SouthWest Airlines had flights delayed and cancelled because of heavy snow, understandably their social media feeds lit up with communications from frustrated and confused travellers.
In addition to the usual customer service teams getting on the ground, SouthWest live streamed the situation in their Network Operations Control. While the broadcast didn’t (and couldn’t) explain the situation in full detail, it did send a very clear message: something is happening, we are doing our best.
Rather than being a faceless corporation, confronting travellers with delayed plans and cancelled flights, SouthWest became a group of people in the same boat as their customers, doing their best to keep things moving.
The response was huge, and SouthWest capitalized on it to reward customers for tuning in. This compounded the positive response and turned a frustrating “act of god” into a rewarding opportunity to connect with consumers.
Fortunately, you don’t need to wait for a meteorological emergency to show people how you work. Taking time to broadcast the hidden inner workings of your brand brings it to life and shows its purpose better than just about anything else.
Facebook has jumped on the live streaming action with vigour in the last few weeks.
Other apps have their advantages too, but (for now) Facebook has the bigger audience, and an algorithm that’s on your side.
Facebook Live is new, and like any new feature, Facebook is using its algorithm to push live streams to everybody’s News Feed to popularise the format.
While Chewbacca Mom almost guarantees that Facebook Live here to stay, a live stream will still achieve better organic reach than almost anything else you might share on Facebook, and will do for the next few months.
This is a rare gift from the gatekeepers of the biggest online platform. Take advantage if you can.
Make your event into an event
Live-streamed events offer a new way to experience your brand, whether it’s a launch, product demo, a celebration or an announcement.
It can be exciting to have an air of exclusivity at an invite-only event, but some events are constrained by location, event space or even short notice. Live streaming your event grows grows the audience and the conversation naturally beyond these limitations, and provides a focal point for your brand in real time.
It also allows a direct interaction between you and your audience. You can answer questions, address your viewers by name and make your event into an interactive experience with even more impact.
Get real time feedback (for better or worse)
Okay, so you have a new service, or product, or maybe you just released a new ad.
Live streaming is a great way of finding out what people think on the fly.
Comments are popular right now, but they’re not immediate, there’s a delayed gratification from any response, if it comes at all.
But live streaming brings a personal, conversational element. If a static image or even a video prompts me for an opinion, I’m not necessarily going to answer. But if a person sits under a brand I care about and asks me the same thing, I might be more inclined to reply.
No brand has universal popularity. Opening yourself up for feedback obviously presents an opportunity for positive and negative feedback. Which leads us neatly onto our…
Reasons you shouldn’t use live streaming
You don’t know why you’re using it
It’s exciting to reach your audience in a new way, but if you don’t know why you’re doing it or what you’re trying to achieve, the odds are you’re going to confuse and annoy them, rather than bring anything of value.
And since confusion and annoyance probably aren’t the goals for your brand (as a rule we wouldn’t recommend them), it’s best to leave live streaming alone until you know exactly why you want to use it.
You haven’t got a handle on your social media community
Having your brand rise to prominence in Facebook’s News Feed is only a good thing if you’ve got a good relationship with your community. If your posts are often deluged with negative customer experiences, or hijacked by people seeking attention for their issues, drawing more attention to this with a live stream won’t help. In fact it’s likely to annoy those people if they feel like they aren’t being heard when such a direct communication channel is opened.
Get a strategy in place for building relationships with your community, then live stream.
You’re a stickler for a script
You should always plan your live stream, but sticking relentlessly to a script that isn’t working for your audience isn’t the way to go. Be prepared to move with what your audience and the conversation dictates, rather than what you had in mind.
In one stream by Benefit Cosmetics, viewers fixated and . Eventually the painting had to be adjusted before the stream could continue as planned.
If you don’t feel like you can do that, don’t live stream.