man watching his phone
Live video marketing has tangible benefits for brands, marketers and consumers. PHOTO: Pexels

In the weeks leading up to the launch of Facebook Live, reports circulated that Mark Zuckerberg was “obsessed” with live video. The fact that Zuckerberg pushed out live video on Facebook and Instagram within months of each other speaks to the truth in that story.

The leaders of Twitter followed by launching their own Periscope-powered live video feature in late 2016.

But what is it about live video that’s making social media giants clamber towards it with such haste? And more to the point, what does this all mean for content marketing?

Benefits of Live Video Marketing

According to research compiled by Twitter, live streaming an event increases brand favorability by 63 percent.

Twitter acquired Periscope in 2015 for $86 million.
Twitter acquired Periscope in 2015 for $86 million.

Furthermore, 80 percent of Livestream’s survey respondents prefer live video from a brand to social posts. In other words, the contemporary consumer is thirsty for live video.

The reasons for that thirst is no mystery. On the contrary, live video marketing has some tangible benefits for brands, individual marketers and consumers themselves.

Live Video Is Accessible

If you have a smartphone, you can go live to the world right now.

There are no technical requirements, and better yet, there’s no need to spend hours preparing the content — a point which I will prove later in this article.

Live Video Is Personal

Perhaps the greatest aspect of live video is its unique ability to cut through the forced professionalism and rehearsed facades we see in so many other content marketing mediums.

When you’re live, there’s no time to plan your next sentence, and there’s no script to help you handle questions and comments as they roll in. It’s just you — the real you.

Live Video Is Interactive

Live video empowers marketers to interact with their audience in a way that no other medium allows.

For example, you can take a question live on air from the comments section, answer it and then partake in some back and forth discussion with the questioner as the world watches on.

This enhanced level of engagement isn’t just great for attracting more social media comments, it also helps create a stronger and more personal bond between the streamer and the audience.

Live Video Evokes Urgency

There’s something about a live stream on social media that makes me want to tune in and stay watching — even if the streamer isn’t somebody I typically pay much attention to.

The numbers also prove that I’m not alone in this, as studies show that people spend 3X longer watching live video compared to video that is no longer live.

Live Video Can Be Ephemeral

Live video has all the benefits of being ephemeral (à la Snapchat) without actually having to disappear once the live fun stops.

Other than Instagram, all major social media platforms continue showcasing your videos on your feed long after the stream ends. Thus, there’s nothing to stop you from taking those previously live streams and using them for further content marketing later on.

You can transcribe them into blog posts, chop them up into small videos for YouTube or extract a small clip for your homepage.

Live Video Marketing Examples

Live video marketing may be the future, but it’s also the present. Here are some examples of live video working for content marketers today.

Enterprise Marketing With Live Video

Turkish Airlines became the first airline to broadcast a flight live on Periscope, giving viewers a sneak peek in the cockpit and other areas of the plane. According to Twitter’s case study, the live feed reached 4.5 million people and received 290,000 Periscope likes.

Turkish Airlines attracted 5,000 new followers with one Periscope live stream.
Turkish Airlines attracted 5,000 new followers with one Periscope live stream.

Car manufacturing giant General Motors also leveraged live video when it unveiled the first ever Chevrolet electric car at CES 2016. More than 57,000 people tuned in, resulting in just under 2,000 Facebook likes.

These two live video marketing campaigns perfectly exemplify the way live video can be used with very little preparation or investment. Both the Turkish Airlines flight and the Chevrolet presentation were going to happen anyway — the two brands simply set up a smartphone to stream it all.

Personal Branding With Live Video

Two big players in the personal branding space have made live video an integral part of their marketing strategies.

Tony Robbins, the self-improvement and business mentor, regularly appears on Facebook Live with the likes of Business Insider and Arianna Huffington.

According to a Robbins, “Facebook Live is one of my favorite tools at this stage. We get three-quarters of a million people [watching]. It’s like having your own show.”

Gary Vaynerchuk, the founder of VaynerMedia, is also an advocate for live video. He records many of his Ask Gary Vee shows on Facebook Live, with some episodes gathering over 450,000 viewers. Vaynerchuk also dabbles in impromptu Q&A sessions on Instagram Live.

From a personal branding perspective, live video marketing makes absolute sense. It further strips away any inauthenticity, promotes dialogue and makes the viewer feel closer to the streamer.

Where Are the Streams?

As previously mentioned, major social media platforms have high hopes for live video. But as usual, each one is approaching the trend in its own way.

If you’re looking to launch a live video marketing campaign, here are the most intelligent places to host your live feeds

Facebook Live

“[In a] few years from now, the vast majority of the content that people consume online will be video.“

That’s what Mark Zuckerberg claimed in 2016 at the Mobile World Congress, and just a few months later, his two platforms (Facebook and Instagram) were hosting live streams.

Today, Facebook’s algorithm looks favourably upon live video — which likely has something to do with the fact that Facebook users comment 10X more on live videos than they do on regular videos. As a result of this high engagement rate, Facebook recently announced that ads are coming to Facebook Live.

Snapchat

The unique role of Snapchat marketing in the enterprise space is now way too big to ignore.

Although you can’t technically go live on Snapchat, the app offers a unique halfway-house between live video and traditional video. Plus, the fact that Snapchat users share 9,000 snaps every second is reason enough to experiment with it.

Instagram

With well over 600 million users, Facebook-owned Instagram is definitely worth streaming on.

Instagram borrowed (read: stole) its “Stories” feature from Snapchat, and then proceeded to go a step further by letting users stream live video that disappears once the stream ends. That makes it the only major platform to offer ephemeral live video by default.

YouTube

Although YouTube is the oldest video sharing platform on this list, it’s showing no negative signs of ageing.

In fact, internet surfers now watch more than 1 billion hours of YouTube video every single day.

As the mack daddy of the video scene (and, since it’s owned by Google), YouTube serves up three distinct ways to go live — providing more flexibility than all its live streaming competitors.

  1. Stream Now: the fastest way to go live via YouTube from a desktop machine.
  2. Event Streaming: if you want to live stream an event, this option gives you greater control of the live stream. For example, you can preview before you go live and configure backup redundancy streams.
  3. Mobile Streaming: this live streaming option is most comparable to the offerings of Facebook and Instagram. After a mobile live stream ends, an archive of the stream is saved to your channel and you have the option to edit the privacy setting (including setting it to private) or delete the archive.

Twitter

Twitter is still struggling with its abuse and algorithm issues — but its $86M acquisition of the live streaming app Periscope has fused the two apps together to give Twitter users a faster way to start live streams. Like Facebook Live, Periscope allows for permanent playback after a live stream ends.

Furthermore, Twitter and its partners created 600 hours of live video content from a total of 400 events in the last quarter of 2016 — an indication that Twitter is gambling on live video to pull it out of the rut it finds itself in.

Content Marketing 2.0

Live video disrupting the content marketing scene in a way we haven’t seen in years — and thus, it’s ushering in the era of content marketing 2.0.

Gary Vaynerchuk hosting a live Q&A on Facebook Live
Gary Vaynerchuk hosting a live Q&A on Facebook Live.

In this new era of content marketing, the consumer is in love with video that’s live, interactive and authentic.

It’s no longer enough to sit a CEO down in a well-lit studio to answer vetted questions with scripted answers. Today, good video content is live and spontaneous engagement sessions with your customers via Facebook Live. It’s giving the world a behind-the-scenes peek of your head office on Periscope. It’s documenting your entire corporate event on Snapchat.

Most importantly, it’s about connecting with your audience in the moment — as humans always have.

And here’s the kicker: unlike blog posts and pre-recorded webinars, over-preparation with regards to live video is a bad idea. Instead, live video performs best when it’s used to casually expose the raw personality of a brand in its natural habitat.

Don’t get me wrong, good old fashioned words will always be relevant — but a good content marketing strategy now absolutely requires live video.