watermelon explosion
Buzzfeed's "Watermelon Explosion" video introduced a new era of live video marketing, with 800,000 viewers tuning in PHOTO: Buzzfeed

The emergence of live video features on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Twitter has changed the face of content marketing.

But before we delve into the best ways to leverage a live stream, let’s take a look at why live video marketing is causing such a fuss. 

Live Video Marketing: What’s All The Fuss?

A live video is not like a pre-recorded video. By going live, a brand can broadcast its personality with a raw, visceral and authentic edge that other content marketing mediums just can’t match.

The unique benefits of live video aren’t just theoretical though. A recent study (granted, by Livestream) showed live video is more appealing to brand audiences, as 80 percent would rather watch a brand’s live video rather than read their latest blog post, while 82 percent prefer live video from a brand to social media posts.

Many brands hesitate to take advantage of this medium under the impression that to execute a live video stream well, you need lots of planning, equipment and something extremely interesting to showcase. That's not exactly the case.

11 Cost Effective Live Stream Ideas

If you’re on a budget or in an industry that doesn’t immediately seem interesting, here are some cost effective ideas to bolster your live video marketing campaigns.

1. Q&A and AMA Sessions

If your audience has questions, you can now answer them live in front of the camera.

Gary Vaynerchuk, CEO of New York City-based Vaynermedia, regularly hosts his show, “Ask Gary Vee” on Facebook Live and Instagram Live. Some episodes gather over 450,000 viewers.

He invites viewers to comment on the live stream with their phone numbers before calling a handful one at a time to answer their burning questions live for all to hear and see.

2. Debates

A spirited debate has always been a great way to draw a crowd.

Italian women’s magazine Grazia leveraged the buzz around Brexit by hosting and live streaming a roundtable debate regarding the UK's move away from the European Union.

While international politics may not be relevant to your audience, you can always gather a few thought leaders from your industry to discuss whichever topic would resonate with your viewers.

3. Behind-The-Scenes Tours

Your audience regularly sees the front-facing components of your business — but they never get to peek behind the curtains.

With a live video stream, you can give your audience a tour of your offices, factories or anywhere else that’s not typically seen by outsiders. NBC succeeded with this strategy when it sent anchor Lester Holt onto Facebook Live to showcase its new studio.

4. Product Unboxings and Demos

Unboxing videos are extremely popular, with many simple unboxing videos attracting tens of millions of views on YouTube.

By extension, your audience will likely be interested in tuning into a live stream where you unbox your latest product or a popular gadget that they've been looking forward to trying.

5. Interviews

Your brand could be the go-to source for interviews with thought leaders in your industry.

You can start by interviewing your CEO and other executives before putting other relevant personalities in front of the camera. Buzzfeed ran with this idea and managed to get an interview with Barack Obama back in 2016, streaming the interview live via Facebook and YouTube.

6. News Snippets

If your industry is constantly popping with news, you can become the go-to niche news source.

A 24-hour stream is ambitious to say the least, but you could certainly go live at regular intervals in order to give people a quick update. The popular technology news network, TwiT regularly goes live on YouTube to break news and discuss trends in the tech scene.

7. How-To Videos

Being a source of entertainment and education at the same time is powerful. If somebody in your company can jump in front of a camera and show an audience how to do something practical for the sake of their business or personal life — they should.

Martha Stewart’s ongoing Facebook Live streamed cooking show has done wonders for her brand, with some episodes bringing in over 57,000 viewers.

8. Announcements

Got a new product or service to announce? A press release is OK, but a live video unveiling is approximately a million times better.

You can build up to the live stream by alerting your audience to a new and exciting announcement coming their way, teasing the date and time. It’s a great way to build buzz and gather a live audience at the same time. After the announcement, you can open up the floor for questions.

Italian Soccer club Juventus recently used Facebook Live to announce the signing of Douglas Costa, a high profile player. The video, which showed him landing in Turin, Italy, attracted over 570,000 viewers.

9. Event Coverage

Hosting an event? That provides the perfect excuse to go live before, during and after the occasion.

For example, Cisco Live 2017 — which attracted over 27,000 attendees and 42,000 Facebook Live viewers — was streamed live from beginning to end via both Facebook and Twitter. Their stream was impressively professional, but yours doesn’t have to be. Even a simple stream of the main stage during the event would bring in some viewers.

10. Fun Challenges

Good old fashioned entertainment is also a great way to attract live viewers.

BuzzFeed’s watermelon video was one of the earliest brand uses of Facebook Live. The 45-minute video centered entirely on two people taking turns putting elastic bands around a watermelon, just to see how many it would take before it exploded. The suspense and resulting watermelon explosion was enough to draw in 800,000 viewers.

11 . Nothing in Particular

It turns out live streaming nothing in particular is surprisingly effective.

Live streams set up at busy intersections and above large puddles gathered over 2,200 live viewers. Nobody quite understands why these seemingly mundane live streams perform so well. Maybe it’s the people-watching element involved, or simply the comfort of an unproduced, authentic glimpse of the world.

Whatever the reason, you might want to consider setting up a live stream of your retail outlet or staff lounge.

Be Part of the Content Marketing Revolution

Going live is still a relatively avant-garde marketing tactic — but live video marketing is undoubtedly driving content marketing into the future. Use any of the ideas above as a starting point to dip your toes in the live video marketing waters. 

Have a live video marketing idea of your own? Share in the comments below.