Live streaming video has been in the news since the Meerkat app was launched Spring 2015 at SXSW followed by Periscope a few weeks later. Then in late summer 2015 we were introduced to Blab and, not to be left out of the video steaming movement, Facebook launched 'Facebook Live' to all users in Spring 2016.
Yet, streaming video's been around for nearly a decade.
Why is live streaming video such big news now?
These newly released apps and services are designed for mobile phone use and Pew Research reports that smartphone use has increased dramatically. From 2011 to 2016 U.S. smartphone ownership more than doubled from 35% to 72%. Live video apps have also grown dramatically - more so than previous social media apps. The Salesforce blog explains Instagram reached 10 million users in one year while it took Periscope just five months to reach that milestone.
Is it time for your business to jump on live video?
Despite this enormous grown, these social apps are sill very new and the user base is small compared to established social networks. Yet I see real opportunity in using live video to supplement current social strategy to boost engagement, build awareness, and, yes, drive conversion. Let's look at each in more detail.
Live Video Can Boost Engagement
After years of declining viewership (ratings) the broadcast TV industry has learned the value of live video programming combined with social commenting. Nielson research has shown that live TV shows leveraging Twitter can boost TV ratings. There's something about the word "Live" that makes us want to join in and not miss out. Live combined with social media means we are participating in consumption of content within community.
Bloggers like Copyblogger recently turned their comments back on after years of having them turned off upon realizing the value of real-time content consumption and feedback in community. A smaller user base sounds like a negative, but this also means higher engagement rates. That's why Snapchat is very attractive right now, and like Snapchat's expiration on Snaps, live also builds in a sense of urgency. Some people can't resist tuning in for fear of missing out and crave the community and direct interaction live video offers.
Live Video Can Build Awareness
Even with the smaller user bases of these new apps, they're attract audiences because the room is simply not over-crowded as you'll often find on more mature social channels. User base demographics are also probably different from your current social media channels. You're showing up in different social circles that are smaller, so you get noticed. Plus, participating in live video is an interesting, new content that will also help drive awareness in your existing crowded social media channels with dwindling organic reach.
These social network apps are new and doing all they can to attract users. Live streaming content is getting preference over other content - it could help you stand out in the content arms race. Meerkat and Periscope send out notices like tweets to let your fans know you are on live - Periscope even has a Periscope channel on Apple TV. Kim Garst says people watch her scopes like a morning TV show. Facebook Live sends followers a notification when you're live and places your video in your News Feed. Right now these notices are guaranteed to reach your audience, driving up your organic reach.
Live Video Can Drive Conversion
What better way to build rapport than live interaction with a real person? Seeing it in video makes it real. From product demonstration to sharing valuable content and answering questions, live video speeds up the the know, like and trust process and can quicken time to conversion. Kim Garnst has attributed 17,000 opt-ins directly from Periscope in 9 months, adding multiple 6 figures to her business.
Live video is the best way thus far to bring the full power of personal sales to social media. That's not to say that you jump in with the sales pitch - you have to deliver value first - but seeing and interacting live with a real person is powerful. Research has indicated that the impact of communication is determined 7% by words, 38% by voice, and 55% by nonverbal communication.
Live video allows you to adjust your message on the fly based on number of people coming and going, hearts you are receiving, and questions being asked.
Who are the main players in live video?
The talk of 2015's SXSW, Meerkat's appeal was how easy anyone could broadcast live from their smartphone. Meerkat suffered a blow when Twitter cut it off from it's social graph, and has struggled to gain traction since, leading to it's recent decision to change focus. But Venture Beat says that some brands have found higher engagement on Meerkat versus Periscope. Latest stats indicate that Meerkat has 2 million active users.
Periscope was introduced shortly after Meerkat, and is owned by Twitter. Periscope is also about the broadcast of the individual, but close integration with Twitter is a bonus, with Periscope streams being viewable within in a person's Twitter stream. The latest Periscope Stats report 10 million users, 2 million daily users, and 100 million broadcasts as of January 2016.
Blab is about live video but emphasizes more of a group participation dynamic. Similar to Google Hangouts, Blab brings in up to four broadcasters at a time with participants able to come and go as they please. This newer entrant has grown quickly because of its ease of use and slightly different interface. Blab is also integrated with Twitter for sharing and promoting. The latest Blab stats report 2.5 million users.
Facebook Live is the latest addition to live streaming. This option is integrated into Facebook's mobile app. The big news here is that now any of the over 1.5 billion Facebook users can share a live video stream as easily as making a status update. Facebook Live user stats are too early to report, but they are starting with the largest bucket of current users. Facebook does report that users are 10x more likely to comment on a live video than on a normal one.
What content can you create for live video?
Business2business community suggests:
- Broadcast live company events
- Make live announcements
- Conduct live interviews
- Do a live video blog
- Moderate live panel chats
Entrepreneur adds ideas such as using live video to:
- Promote other content you have already created
- Live stream comments and discussion to your content
- Use live video to create content like a Q&A session
Top Rank Blog says live streaming presents further opportunity to:
- Supplement customer research with real time feedback
- Newsjacking that draws audience by commenting on trending topics
- Product demos that can share more than a standard press release
Perhaps now is the time to start experimenting with live video as a strategic addition to your social media strategy. Where do you see opportunity or where have you already seen success?
This post originally appeared on Keith Quesenberry's blog