During the early days of television, viewers waited hours, if not days, for tapes to be shipped many miles for broadcast. But all of that changed in 1962 when tens of millions of people gathered eagerly around their television sets to witness something that had never been done before: live broadcasting. By today’s standards, the picture was absolutely terrible — a black-and-white image of the Statue of Liberty flickering on the screen — but it was revolutionary because it was being streamed live via satellite.
Technology has evolved light-years since then, but people’s fascination with video has not ended. Customers favor video, but even as customers make their preferences known, marketers are taking notice of something new: live-streaming video.
Live Video: Accelerating in Popularity
Cisco estimates that video will account for 82 percent of global Internet traffic by 2020, up from 70 percent in 2015. But live video takes that demand and amplifies it.
In a Livestream survey, 80 percent of respondents reported that customers prefer live video over social posts. In addition, CIO magazine reports that live video is positioned to explode on social media platforms in 2017. What’s more, live-streaming an event increases brand favorability by 63 percent. But why the spike in popularity?
For starters, live video is more personal as brands cut out the forced professionalism of the past, throw out the formal script, and finally let customers see the human aspect of their brand. Marketers interact with the audience in ways that no other medium allows, taking questions live on air or from the comments section to start a conversation with their target audience.
Many brands are already beginning to leverage this marketing strategy to connect with their audience with greater engagement. But others aren’t sure exactly where to start. Here are four ways to kick off your live video efforts now.
1. Create a Q&A with Your Audience
Creating deep engagement with your target audience is critical to nurturing and building your business. Customers may have questions about your B2B products and services: How do they work? How will they address the customer’s pain points? When you create a live Q&A through video, you can more effectively answer those questions in real-time and help customers truly understand the value of your products and services.
For example, Experian hosts a live credit chat on Periscope every day at 3 p.m. Eastern Time. They say, “Join our #CreditChat on Periscope, YouTube Live, Twitter, and Snapchat on Wednesday, May 31, at 3 p.m. ET. In this chat, we’ll discuss financial hacks to help you save money on travel this summer.” The company has a live feed on their landing page, where the audience can view how many hours are left until the live feed starts and watch the video live once it’s time for the event.
2. Launch New Products
Is your B2B company launching a new product soon? If so, part of your launch plan should include live video events. These events help you showcase your product, answer questions in real-time, and engage deeper with the target market so you can collect valuable details about how prospective customers respond to the new product.
For example, Nissan debuted its new Maxima in 2015 using live video from the New York International Auto Show. Regardless of their physical location, prospective customers could get a first look at the new vehicle model. Chevy took a similar approach the following year when launching its electric 2017 Bold EV in real-time. The automaker streamed the event live through Facebook and it has harnessed 58,220 views to date.
The next time you launch a new product, ask yourself, “How could we use live video to promote this launch?” The more engaging and interactive your approach, the better. Customers will get to feel like they’re part of the launch rather than simply a viewer.
3. Feature Live Events
Beyond the impact of using live video at existing events (as described above), you can also build specific events for live video. For example, GE visited five of its facilities in five days, using innovative technology and drones with a 3D-printed camera mount, a custom logic board, and retooled landing gear. They marketed the event as #Droneweek and shared it live on video streaming app Periscope.
The event positioned the brand as a leader in technology innovation by creating interesting and engaging live video for GE customers.
One last way to use livestream video in B2B is to feature a “sneak peek” into the company’s inner workings. Why? Because when marketers are always trying to show the “polished” side of a company, it never feels human. When you pull back the curtain instead — and reveal that, not only is a brand run by humans, but those humans are interesting — it instantly makes the brand more likable and engaging. For example, Ben and Jerry’s uses live video to provide a tour of their “Flavor Lab” and show the care that goes into each frozen bite.
Tips for Successfully Deploying Live Video Strategies
Are you ready to try live video but want to ensure that your efforts deliver the maximum results possible? If so, here are a few more strategies that will get you off to the right start.
Build your audience.
Nothing is worse than planning, preparing, and holding a live event that doesn’t reach enough people. Crickets is not the sound you want. So build up your audience to support that next live event. Where is your audience spending time? For the B2B audience, it may be on LinkedIn groups or Twitter. Once you figure this out, you can start engaging with that audience and building it, and when you put the word out about the upcoming event, you’ll see greater success.
Keep things casual.
Viewers have a different expectation for a live event. They don’t want it to be formal or scripted; instead, they prefer it to be engaging and real. So don’t be afraid to be imperfect, ask questions, and have viewers talk back in real-time.
Build an engaging event.
Customers no longer tolerate one-sided communication; they want to be included in the conversation. So maximize results by leveraging social, chat, survey, and polling technology during your event. This will keep the audience hooked and engaged from start to finish.
Encourage comments and feedback.
With most platforms, you can see how many viewers you have at any given time. Continue to encourage comments and feedback, and address as many questions as possible during the live event to keep people engaged and make them feel involved and heard.
Experiment with timing.
As with other types of marketing activities, timing is critical — especially with live events. When is the best time for your target audience to attend? For a B2B audience, this may be during the middle of the week in the evening hours — or the morning might be better. The best way to find out is to hold the live event on a couple of different days and times, and then measure your results.
Remember to have fun.
Live events are supposed to be spontaneous, fun, and all about a new type of engagement. So throw out the stiffness and formality, and opt instead for a loose outline and the flexibility to improvise and adapt to customers’ real-time needs.
Evolving With the Future of Video
Customers have made their preference clear: They love video. But moving into the future won’t just be about regular video. Instead, it will be about dynamic video that happens in real-time and makes customers feel like they’re part of the experience. Customers no longer want to feel “marketed to” or “sold to,” but rather as though they’re having a conversation.
They want to talk about their biggest pain points — what keeps them up at night — and how your B2B offering is the solution to those problems. When you strike this balance with real-time video, you will bring relationships and engagement to entirely new heights.