Live video was undoubtedly the social media trend of 2016.
True, the rise of chatbots opened up some intriguing possibilities for social customer service But this development is still yet to catch on, whereas live video is now so omnipresent that it’s becoming increasingly difficult for brands to ignore.
As Kirsty Price, senior community manager at PSONA Social, told eConsultancy recently: “In 2016, we’re already seeing that brands that don’t create and publish video content are trailing behind competitors that have invested heavily in this captivating medium.”
The big social networks made significant strides forward with their live video offerings last year. With video such an in-demand medium it’s not hard to see why. A Cisco study found that mobile video traffic accounted for 55 per cent of total mobile data traffic in 2015. More significantly, the study predicts that figure will rise to an eye-raising 75 per cent by 2020.
Before we look at some brilliant examples of live video marketing, let’s sum up what the major networks got up to in 2016…
Facebook Live originally launched in the summer of 2015 – but only to its VIP users. The global roll-out came almost a year later, announced by Mark Zuckerberg in a live video, of course. Early adoption must have been slow, because Facebook launched an awareness and educational ad campaign in October to try and encourage more of its 1.7 billion users to have a go at live streaming.
Just two months later came the launch of 4K 360 live broadcasting. Designed to piggyback on the rising popularity of virtual reality, 360 video “immerses viewers fully into the scene, letting them explore on their own and experience a new environment” – according to Facebook.
Twitter’s live video offering isn’t strictly speaking an in-house product – the company acquired Periscope pre-launch in March 2015 rather than developing their own streaming feature. Indeed, Periscope continued to be a standalone app until Twitter finally integrated it into its main app.
In October, Periscope made its biggest leap forward yet when it launched Producer. Previously, users could only live broadcast using a smartphone. Producer enabled them to put together professional broadcasts using their own camera equipment, laptop or desktop and editing software. It was a big development for brands, and Louis Vuitton, Disney and the English Football Association were among the early adopters.
Reports first surfaced in October that Instagram was testing a live video feature. A user in Russia spotted a button which included the text ‘Go Insta!’, which enabled the user to launch a live video broadcast. Fast-forward a month or so and the feature was confirmed by Instagram.
The major difference between Instagram’s offering and Facebook Live and Periscope is that live videos in Instagram aren’t stored anywhere – meaning followers can only watch them while they’re being filmed.
Instagram would argue they’ve hit the very definition of ‘live’ video, but it remains to be seen how video views hold up given users have to be in the app to watch content as its happening. Brands are not likely to be enthused by the prospect of a large chunk of their audience missing out on videos because they’re busy.
Snapchat doesn’t yet have a live streaming feature as such. The Live Stories mode, however, does give users the option to post 10-second videos that disappear with the rest of the story after 24 hours.
James Rehwald, marketing director at web development agency DDG, makes a convincing case for live streaming eventually coming to Snapchat.
How to make great live video campaigns
Live video marketing should be carefully planned like other aspects of your social media strategy. Following a few simple guidelines will put you well on the way to becoming a live streaming guru.
Understand the network
The World Wildlife Foundation ran a live Snapchat campaign called #LastSelfie aimed at spreading awareness of endangered animals among millennials. The campaign played on Snapchat’s ephemeral image, stating: “In a way Snapchat is a mirror of real life. The images you see are transient, instant, unique, yet only live for a few seconds. Just like these endangered animals.”
The campaign quickly went viral, spreading to Twitter and Facebook. The campaign was re-tweeted more than 40,000 times, reaching 120 million Twitter timelines, and WWF collected its monthly funding target in just first three days of the campaign.
Go behind the scenes
Dunkin’ Donuts became one of the earliest brands to try out Facebook Live when they broadcast a behind-the-scenes look into their kitchen for a Valentine’s Day promotion. The broadcast featured their team preparing a cake made from heart-shaped donuts.
Melanie Cohn, Dunkin’ Donuts’ social media manager, said: “Within 13 minutes we had 21,000 viewers, which proves the stickiness of live video. We saw one of our highest average view times ever on our Live video compared to pre-recorded video. It’s hard to get just three seconds of attention on video now, so we see Live as a huge driver of time spent with our content.”
Know what people want
Your live streams will be much better received if you have a handle on what kind of videos work on social media. Each stream must have a benefit for your audience – or else what’s the point?
Facebook says there are 590 million unique people connected to food pages, something that food community company Tastemade has capitalised on. Their first Facebook Live post in March this year attracted an incredible 1.6 million views. The concept was breathtakingly simple too – featuring a coffee artist creating patterns in a latte. The video was shared almost 5,000 times and attracted more than 91,000 comments to complete a very successful day at the office for Tastemade.
Give stuff away
If you’ve got a case of live video block (it’s a thing), then you could always tempt your audience in with the promise of a freebie. Doritos did just that when they launched a new flavour on Periscope in June 2015.
Users were invited to watch a live stream knowing there was a chance they could be selected to win a prize. Contestants were selected at random from the list of viewers on the stream and then given prizes depending on where the spinning wheel landed – and all this on a live social media broadcast.
Marketing isn’t just about overtly trying to sell your products. Savvy brands understand that being there for the customer can be worth its weight in gold. Experian is one such brand.
The information services giant runs weekly live Credit Chats on Periscope, in which a panel of experts help the audience with a number of every-day financial topics. The chats have become wildly popular, with the company claiming they reach ‘hundreds of millions’ of social media accounts every week.
Rod Griffin, director of public education, says: “Credit Chat lets us connect directly with people and answer the questions they have specific to their situation. It’s incredible to think that when we started there were just a handful of people, and now we reach literally hundreds of millions of accounts each week.”
The biggest live video of 2016 didn’t start off as a marketing campaign, but it certainly ended up that way for the brands involved.
Everyone has heard of ‘Chewbacca Mom’, a woman named Candace Payne who filmed herself trying on a Star Wars mask in the driver’s seat of her car. The video was live streamed and became a viral sensation, attracting almost 164 million views at the time of writing.
The mask in the video predictably sold out everywhere, and Kohl’s – the store where it was purchased from – received unprecedented exposure and lavished Payne with gifts in thanks (this was filmed and posted on Facebook to extract the necessary marketing juice).
Hasbro – the toy company behind the mask – made a one-off Chewbacca toy featuring Payne’s face and basked in the reflected glory.
Test your content
Staying with Hasbro, the toy company dabbled into live streaming waters by using their Monopoly Facebook account to promote several of their products. But it’s safe to say users were underwhelmed.
The video featured someone dressed as the banker from Monopoly playing a game of Hungry Hippos with Mr and Mrs Potato Head. It was totally silent bar for the clacking of the game, and whoever was behind the camera couldn’t even fit the whole scene into the frame.
The internet was, shall we say, suitably unimpressed. ‘This is horrible. I can’t believe it is actually a professional attempt at marketing,’ said one user. Another said: ‘Hasbro. You really need to have some second thoughts about whoever is looking after your social media. This is beyond weird.’
Okay, so live video by definition cannot truly be tested. There’s always a risk that something will go wrong once you’ve started broadcasting. But the concept behind your videos can and should be tested on as many in-house people as possible before it’s shared with the world at large.
Follow those simple rules and you’ll be producing top quality, shareable live content in no time.