Thought Leadership
  • Content marketing

The future is LIVE …

Stephen Hobbs
23rd November 2016

It all started in 2011 as the Royal Wedding was streamed live on YouTube, but here’s some 2020 vision for you: in four year’s time, video will make up 82% of all consumer internet traffic and live video will make up a significant proportion of that.

This is why the world’s largest social networking site has made live video a priority. Nicola Mendelsohn, vice president for Facebook in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said earlier this year that the social network would “definitely” be mobile and would “probably” be “all video”. “If I was having a bet”, she said, “it’d be video, video, video.” This is backed up by stats that currently say live video is viewed 3x longer than normal video on Facebook, and with 10x higher engagement levels.

The basics of using live video can be stripped back to three key factors. Keep it simple. Keep it original. Keep it engaging.

However, in terms of the fundamentals, it’s important to react to your audience – otherwise there’s no point being live – and let them know ahead of time when you’re going to broadcast.

Live video: The state of play

One of the key moments of live video this year was when the two US presidential candidates streamed their respective acceptance and defeat speeches (Donald Trump reached 488k views vs. Hilary Clinton’s 206k). These stats are telling and a reflection of Trump's campaign in general. Trump spent far more of his campaign budget on innovative marketing, especially live video where people were able to tune into interviews and behind-the-scenes action as it happened. Clinton, on the other hand, stuck to traditional TV advertising. Whether or not this had any bearing on the outcome, we'll never know … but Cenk Uygur, co-founder of The Young Turks said:

“We just had 4.5 million views on our live stream on election day (over 1 million hours of total viewing time in 1 day!). Clinton refused to come on our show. She needed every vote she could get and she left a million on the table because her staff were stuck in the old, old days where TV is king.”

Early on, brands used live video for more ‘traditional’ publicity events, such as General Motors’ launch of its Chevy Volt at CES. Then things got more imaginative. Dunkin' Donuts, for example, constructed a doughnut wedding cake live from their test kitchen, while BuzzFeed had more than 10m people watching as its employees stretched rubber bands over a watermelon until it burst (in case you’re wondering, it took just over 40 minutes and they didn’t stream the clear up process).

Elsewhere, Land Rover live-streamed test drives of its vehicles via Facebook Live and Periscope, then took questions about their capabilities from viewers. Airbnb partnered with Disney, providing them with a specially-built ‘treehouse’ from which to live stream red carpet interviews on Facebook Live during the premiere of the new Jungle Book movie. Even broadcasters have been getting in on the act, with UFC, Sky's Soccer AM and the BBC's Match of the Day all using Facebook Live to put out teaser content.

There are no signs of this type of content going anywhere, anytime soon. Most recently, Twitter announced its new tool, Periscope Producer, a new way for live video creators to share high-quality, produced live video on Periscope and Twitter. By broadcasting live video with Periscope Producer, the broadcaster can produce higher-quality content through external cameras and software (e.g. with drones and GoPros) supported by the engagement elements found on Periscope and Twitter.

Twitter is seen as the go-to tool to converse whilst watching TV and live events, however it's now amalgamated this so you’re able to watch the live content and comment at the same time, without having to navigate away from either screen.

The latest platform giant to embrace live video is Instagram, which has recently announced two updates to its app: live video through Instagram Stories and disappearing photos and videos for groups and friends in Instagram Direct.

People will be able to broadcast live by swiping right from their Instagram feed to open the camera and tapping ‘start live video’. This will be shared for up to an hour before disappearing from the app (Snapchat, I hear you say). Instagram said this means that “users can feel more comfortable sharing anything, anytime”.

Users will also get a notification when a person they follow goes live, so they can tune in and comment.

So how do you make live video work for you? It's all about bringing audiences together and creating real, authentic content, bridging the gap between brands and people. Before you get started, here are some things to consider:

How to make your live video a hit

1. Timing is everything

Think about when your target audience is online and able to engage with the content. Some may find it difficult to watch live streams during working hours.

2. Give notice

It’s imperative to the success of the content that you tell your community when the live stream is going to take place, and build engagement around the stream. If you’re live on Facebook, call that out so your audience can tap on the Follow button on live videos (and videos that were live) to get opt-in notifications for the next time you 'go live'.


3. Don’t cut yourself short

It takes around 10-15 minutes to start hitting a wider audience, so around 30-45 minutes is the ideal length for broadcasting.

4. Set the stage

Background noise can make or break a live video, which means broadcasting live from a big event is perhaps not the best idea as viewers may not be able to hear what you’re saying, negating the entire premise. Also, be sure to scan your background to make sure there’s nothing visible that might compromise privacy or confidentiality.

5. … and approach it like a party

A Facebook Live broadcast is similar to a real-life event in terms of pre-event prep and promotion and it will be a longstanding brand asset, so it should be taken seriously. At the same time, it shouldn’t be completely scripted or it will come off as inauthentic.

As Brian Shin of Visible Measures has said: “You want it to be spontaneous, but you want all your ducks in a row ... it’s like preparing for a big party – you want all of the things in order, but you still want spontaneity as well.”

If you want to see what’s live streaming now, take a look at the Facebook Live Map

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