The latest social media craze to hit marketers and digital enthusiasts alike is livestreaming: brief online broadcasts that lets users host and respond to followers live. 

Thousands of users are realizing how livestreaming can be buzz-worthy content.  That buzz attracts and engages an online audience, a valuable aspect to enterprises that count Twitter as an essential social media channel to a customer experience strategy.

(Editor's Note: Pierre DeBois will be speaking at CMSWire's DX Summit 2015 on Nov. 3 in Chicago.)

How Livestreaming Works

Google Hangouts piqued early interest in live recordings, but with its use cameras were typically aimed at users sitting at a laptop or guest sitting in a room.

Then along came Meerkat and Periscope.

Both apps allow users to create livestream broadcasts through the camera on their smartphones. Thus a new dynamic of on the go communication was added to video’s growing appeal.

Meerkat gained massive, according to Adweek, buzz when its creator Ben Rubin spoke at SXSW earlier this year. Just a short time later, Twitter bought startup Periscope and expanded its roll out to its users.

Followers on either Meerkat or Periscope receive a notification to join a hosted broadcast.  They can view the broadcast within the app or any web browser.  Followers can send comments, or, in Periscope, send heart emojis as an indication of a like. 

The appeal of livestream broadcasts is that hosts can share a variety of thoughts and observations.  Sometimes they narrate the followers’ comments, which leads to quick reactions.

A Way to Reinvigorate Twitter

Follower engagement on Twitter has been a central debate of Twitter’s business model among digital marketers and even Wall Street experts after Twitter grew into a publicly traded company. 

Twitter has a third of the number of active users compared to Facebook. 

Comparisons of audience scale on Facebook, combined with the fleeting nature of a tweet, left critics feeling that messages do not resonate on Twitter as heavily as they would on Facebook. Twitter’s stock price is lower than its IPO value a year ago.

Twitter’s strength lies in cultivating niche audience segments. US companies looking to reach specific demographics will find a wider variety of shared topic online, as well as “townhall” influencers ranging from profiles from groups to individuals who maintain a high follower count and host Twitterchats on a given subject. 

The ability to establish consistent audiences with a specific interest is Twitter’s special sauce.  Periscope videos becomes valuable in adding spice to that sauce.

Moreover Twitter has been taking steps to provide businesses large and small with better engagement options.  Twitter has introduced remarketing ad capability and better demographic reporting in its analytics so users can target customers more easily.

Tips for Using Periscope

So how can livestreaming be of value to engagement and ultimately to a digital experience strategy?  Let’s look at Periscope and see how:

Imagine the spontaneous content you want to share: List ideas and instances where livestream content may complement your overall strategy on Twitter, such as behind the scenes streams, broadcast teaser details leading up to a new product or service introduction, and scheduled events where the host talks to his or her followers on ideas and thought. 

One side note of caution: Make sure the intended livestream does not conflict with events with defined legal rights for recording. A free streaming of the Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao fight raised legal questions about sharing paid live entertainment, according to CNBC.  To stay on the side of caution, Periscope hosts can make a broadcast private for selected followers.

Check reach and engagement: In Periscope hosts can see how many people joined, what percentage stayed engaged, who they were, and how many hearts received.

Focus on two metrics for broadcast performance : Retention, the percentage of total viewers that watched your broadcast from start to finish, and Total Viewers, the total number of viewers from the iOS and Android app.  These can be viewed once the video has ended. 

Also review tweets in Twitter Analytics for engagement in the date ranges where Periscope broadcasts are known. Check if the engagement rates for the tweets associated with the broadcasts is higher than most other tweets.

That should give an indication if a broadcast is having an impact to follower and possibly influencing Twitter followers to retweet or stay engaged. You can learn more about Twitter Analytics here.

Guide your audience one where you want to go: The benefits from an engaged audience can go into multiple directions, depending on the need. 

A livestream can directing followers from Meerkat or Periscope to another social media platform.  Early indicators of usage I have seen online has positioned livestreaming as an augment media,  providing reminders of other offline events, simple tips on a subject, or the social media channels which the host typically uses.

Livestreams are the most intriguing online communication platforms available. With livestreaming marketers can create broadcasts that can work to make Twitter engagement an effective part of a comprehensive customer engagement strategy.

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