Last week, I blogged about the rising star of social media – live stream video. In this post, I’m going to show you how brands of all shapes and sizes are incorporating it into their content marketing strategies.

Explosive content

Despite its massive hiccup, Buzzfeed has certainly redeemed itself by also hosting one of the most watched live videos ever in a stream that featured two of its employees using rubber bands to explode a watermelon – yes really!

The 45 minute clip attracted almost 1 million real-time viewers (skip to the last minute for the real action) illustrating that exciting live content can reap massive rewards for brands… providing it is delivered without any technical issues. Since the broadcast in April 2016, the video has attracted an additional 9 million views, proving that live streams can continue to provide value long after their launch.

Regular series

While many brands are currently adopting an ad hoc approach to live streaming, others are using it to create a new type of scheduled content encouraging viewers to get into the habit of tuning in weekly, much like they would for a TV series. One such brand is makeup giant, Benefit, which goes live at 4pm every Thursday for its ‘Tipsy Tricks’ series.

My favourite thing about this particular episode is that they poll the audience to decide what will happen next. For example, four minutes in, a host asks viewers to choose the next product, she then allows plenty of time for opinion, before taking them up on their suggestions. This strategy is a brilliant way for a brand to keep an audience engaged, while also learning about their product preferences.

Flash sales

The Funky Fairy, an online store selling personalised goods for children, hosted three separate sales over live stream. The first and second each attracted around 7,000 viewers and then the third hit around 10,000.

Whilst I do think brands should avoid using live video streaming as a mechanism for solely pushing goods and services all the time, the medium clearly works well for flash sales, giveaways, and one-time offers.

Right place, right time

With both Brexit and the US election on its hands, 2016 caused huge spikes in politically-fuelled content across all social platforms.

Fake news story scandal aside, it’s hardly surprising that traditional publishers and broadcasters have been jumping on the live stream bandwagon to reach their audience in the moment where it mattered.

CNN earned the attention of 24 million with its election results stream, making it one of the top ten live videos of the year.

How smaller businesses can use live video

Live stream may be the big thing right now, but that’s not to say the smaller brands out there can’t grab a slice of the action, too!

Add a personal touch: Live stream video can help blur some of the lines between you and your customers by showcasing brand personality. If people are already accustomed to your services and products then they will almost certainly enjoy tuning in to a behind-the-scenes look at your business, be it a tour, a meet and greet, a demonstration, or a sneak peek into your day to day work life.

Place emphasis: Whilst I do believe that a well written article or description will never go out of style, a visual demonstration provides a whole new dimension that words alone cannot match. Live stream video lends itself brilliantly to product launches and demos, or if you provide a service rather than products per se, testimonials and case studies could work equally well.

Break the news: I’ve already mentioned that live video streaming is an ideal tool for distributing news as it happens. This can also apply on a smaller scale. Why not use the medium as a way to share insight on industry changes and trends as they happen? You’ll stand out in your industry as a company that’s knowledgeable, and on the ball, so people will naturally turn to you for the latest inside scoop.

What are you waiting for?: It could be disheartening to go live if no one’s there to witness it, but with a little perseverance, you can easily train your audience to be aware of the fact you’ll be on at a certain time, and they’ll soon start to jump in. Once you get the hang of hosting live stream, it can quickly become an effective part of your content marketing strategy.

You live, and you learn

With careful planning and a spattering of creativity, live video can push brands miles ahead of their competition. Of course, there’s absolutely no obligation to get involved with the medium if it’s not going to sit right with your business or audience, but those who do wish to use it can quickly make it a core part of their content marketing strategy.

To succeed, brands should see beyond the ‘live’ aspect, and consider repurposing the content into other formats, to distribute via their other channels such as blogs, social media profiles, and news bulletins, to name a few.

Live video, much like social media, has the potential to bring brands even closer to their target audience. The fact that viewers can react in real time to live video streams, the primary focus for any brand using the medium should be to interact with its viewers. Through ensuring that you account for audience feedback and respond accordingly, you’ll not only keep them interested, you’ll keep them coming back for more.


Also published on Medium.