In the past 6 months, we’ve seen an extreme rise in the popularity of live video streaming. Services like Periscope, Meerkat, Blab.im have struck a nerve with millions of broadcasters and viewers alike.
But is live video streaming something you should be doing in your business? What are the benefits? What are the potential pitfalls? Let’s explore those questions in more detail below.
What is live video streaming?
As described here, “Streaming video is content sent in compressed form over the internet and displayed by the viewer in real time. With streaming video or streaming media, a Web user does not have to wait to download a file to play it. Instead, the media is sent in a continuous stream of data and is played as it arrives.”
When we talk about live video streaming in this article, we’re referring to the act of sending live video via a mobile device application. In other words, opening the Periscope, Meerkat or Blab.im iOS or Android apps on your phone or tablet and broadcasting your live video stream to whoever is allowed to view it.
Should you be live streaming video as a business?
The simple answer is yes. However, it’s best that you have a premeditated approach and follow some basic rules of marketing in the social age.
I’ve seen some great live streaming approaches recently and some really terrible ones. Here are a few tips to make sure your live video streaming is something people will actually watch and get engaged in.
- Don’t make it about you. Make it about your users, customers or potential customers.
- Provide real value in whatever it is you’re talking about. If you’re sharing a specific idea or technique with people, make sure you back it up with actual facts.
- Don’t sell. Share. I can’t tell you how many live video streams I’ve turned off as soon as I hear “the pitch”.
- Be yourself and don’t try to be perfect. More and more, people are looking for honesty and to feel “connected” with others they see as being successful or knowledgeable about their subject matter.
What are the benefits of live video streaming?
Part of the answer can already be inferred by what you just read above. Live video streaming gives any kind of business the opportunity to relate to their customers in a real way. Some of the most engaging live video streams I’ve watched have been the “behind the scenes” type of broadcasts where the person broadcasting lifts the veil of secrecy on how things actually get done.
Whether live video streams show how they create products (physical or digital), or the marketing techniques they use to promote their business, being able to see the work that businesses have to do to bring something to market is always interesting and makes me more apt to support them by purchasing or otherwise following what they do online.
What are the downsides of broadcasting live video?
Remember the “Great and Powerful OZ” and how surprised and disappointed Dorothy and her friends were when they found out it was just a guy with some fancy marketing tools? The same concept applies to individuals or businesses that have built themselves up to be larger than life.
If you’ve built a brand or persona that makes wild claims and want to keep up the facade, then live video streaming probably isn’t for you. The things that are always easy to spot with live video streaming are transparency and honesty.
If you’re in the business of fooling people into believing you’re something you’re not, you’ll be found out quickly in a live video stream. It’s the most raw form of marketing and B.S. is easy to spot.
What should you include in the live video stream for your business?
The sky’s the limit on what you could include in your broadcast, but remember that the number one goal should be to provide real value for your viewers. Here are a few ideas.
- Behind the scenes. How you do X, Y, or Z in your business and how others can do the same.
- Product demonstrations. Show people how your service or product actually works, why you built it, and how you think it benefits people.
- Tutorials. Show them how to do something. Maybe it’s how to cook macaroni and cheese, maybe it’s how to manage a Twitter Ad campaign. You get the idea.
- Q&A Sessions. This approach works best if you get really specific with the topic of your broadcast. Rather than “Answering questions about WordPress”, you might get more participation with a title like “Answering questions about optimizing images in WordPress”.
How to measure the marketing ROI for your video streaming efforts?
In many ways, data collection and analysis options are still being created in the live video streaming space but there are some ways in which you can start to measure conversions.
Periscope, Meerkat and Blab.im all offer “in-app” methods for learning how your viewers feel about your videos. Users can give you hearts or props during your broadcast. This is a simple yet effective way of knowing if what you’re talking about is something your viewers find interesting.
You can also use one or more of these methods:
- Have a complete profile including your website address. After (or during) your broadcasts, you can use Google Analytics real time visitors view to see if there’s any increase in your traffic.
- Note the number of Twitter, Periscope, Meerkat or Blab.im followers you have before each broadcast and compare those numbers again after you’re finished.
- Create a specific landing page on your site, use an easily remembered short url, and then display that url prominently during your live video stream by simply writing it on a whiteboard, piece of paper, or just remind people verbally of the url. Again, measure traffic to that specific page before and after.