With the availability of live streaming and broadcasting technologies it's now easier than ever to reach audiences around the world with real-time content through a multitude of devices and platforms. And yet, B2B marketers aren’t exactly jumping at the chance, despite 73% of B2B businesses reporting positive results from live streaming.
With the advent of LinkedIn Live, we’ve asked the experts to explain what live streaming is, why B2B companies should utilize live streaming more, and how to get started.
What Is B2B Live Streaming?
Live streaming leverages modern video and broadcasting technologies to provide content to audiences in real-time, said Stacy Nawrocki, head of product marketing at Watson Media and The Weather Company at IBM. “Live streaming is a type of video broadcasting that enables enterprises to handle internal and external communications in real-time, at scale, and across the globe.” Most live streaming services use real-time video encoding to create broadcast-grade video streams that are highly available. These services also often have value-add features like captioning, video-on-demand processing and more depending on the particular use-case.
There are a variety of ways to use live streaming at the enterprise level. “For example, you may have a live-streaming webinar that requires a signup code — or a B2B brand may stream live directly from LinkedIn to reach their B2B audience,” explained Bernard May, CEO of National Positions. Brands, therefore, can leverage live streaming for both internal company events and as a B2B marketing strategy.
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Why B2B Companies Need to Live Stream More
The most significant benefit of live streaming content is increased viewer engagement. “Companies can create a more engaging experience by utilizing live streams that make video content more accessible,” Nawrocki said. Accessibility can include the ability to view the live stream using many devices or even providing transcriptions of the video after the streaming event is over.
One of the most common ways for companies to provide better accessibility, however, is through AI-driven captioning that can get more accurate over time. “Through captioning,” explained Nawrocki, “companies can ensure employees that are deaf, hard of hearing, or prefer tuning in without sound, can all access live streams.” Many platforms can also translate captions in real-time, which could improve engagement with viewers around the world.
“Going live is also one of the best ways to create content that drives engagement, which is a huge bonus,” May said. That’s because live streaming builds trust with audiences when companies are forced to perform under pressure without a safety net. Answering customer inquiries in real-time, for example, leaves little opportunity for companies to follow a script, so consumers often trust the information from live streaming events more than other content.
Live streaming content is also more engaging for employees. “Given that the majority of employees experience high-quality streaming video outside of work,” Nawrocki said, “they expect the same experiences from their workplace technology.” Employees are more likely to gain valuable information from a live streaming event than emails or conference calls because they’re more engaged.
There are additional benefits for organizations that live stream events internally. “Live streaming video connects teams across the globe: from employee on-boarding to company-wide meetings across geographic borders,” Nawrocki said. Companies, therefore, can reach many employees without spending valuable time and resources on travel, accommodation and event space.
How B2B Brands Can Get Started
“Depending on the role live streaming will play in a company’s internal communications strategy some streaming platforms will better enable the business to make the most of broadcasts,” Nawrocki said. She believes cloud-based solutions are best for large companies that need to consider scalability. It’s also easier to keep these platforms relevant and up to date than on-premises solutions into the future.
Beyond choosing a cloud-based solution, there are specific capabilities to look for in a live streaming platform. “First and foremost, consider the reliability of a streaming platform,” suggested Nawrocki, “it must be reliable to be effective.” Then you can consider things like which devices it can deliver to, the geographic locations you want to reach, and how secure the platform is. A platform for delivering to many devices, for example, needs live transcoding capabilities to optimize video streams for specific devices like phones, tablets or computers.
“The most capable platforms utilize artificial intelligence (AI) to make the live streaming process as easy as possible, allowing companies to focus on their message rather than their technology.” Cloud-based solutions should be able to scale up or down to meet traffic demands while delivering the most optimal stream to each end-user using AI and machine learning technologies.
“At the end of the day, a tailored streaming solution will elevate internal and external communications and fulfill video broadcasting needs at scale,” Nawrocki said. Live streaming is an excellent tool for better engagement from both employees and consumers, so B2B brands should consider leveraging the communication medium more often.