Live Video Streaming Lends Authenticity to Outreach

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Social media live video streaming applications, such as Periscope and Meerkat, have proven their potential value to marketers, and a slew of big-name firms have begun to adopt them for their campaigns.

When BMW was gearing up to launch its M2 coupe at the end of last year, the German automaker aired a broadcast on Periscope that gave die-hard fans a sneak peek of the vehicle. Additionally, chain retailer Target leveraged the technology to broadcast one of its Lilly Pulitzer fashion events, last May, and a live performance from Gwen Stefani at the most recent Grammys.

These technologies can also be used to alert customers about sudden changes. Southwest Airlines aired a video featuring company representatives answering questions about delayed flights in real time. The video received more than 100,000 views, according to The Financial Times.

The list of adopters doesn’t end there. General Electric, Red Bull, DKNY, and Nestle have also hopped on the live streaming bandwagon. And given the rising popularity of video marketing, coupled with the benefits of live streaming, this isn’t shocking.

For one thing, it “allows people all over the world to participate in a unique, exclusive experience,” says Garrett Mehrguth, CEO of Directive Consulting, a digital marketing agency. “Not everyone could make it to Southern California for the unveiling of the new Tesla Model 3, but with Periscope, viewers were able to get a first-person look inside the car and even ride along for a test drive.”

Also, there is a certain charm and authenticity to live streaming that is often absent in other formats, experts agree. “There’s always a hint of vulnerability when broadcasting live video,” says Brad O’Brien, senior director of paid social and native advertising at 3Q Digital, a digital marketing agency. “There’s an inherent understanding that it will be imperfect, which makes it more genuine than uploaded video.”

Because videos are broadcast in an uncut state (and in some cases available to view after they’ve been recorded), customers can participate as the action unfolds. On Facebook and through Blab.IM, viewers can chime in with comments, questions, and suggestions that broadcasters can address in real time.

Through live input, organizations can get instant insights about audience sentiment. Companies can also track the amount of likes, views, and shares the videos get.

Software vendors are also working to enhance these experiences. Vidyard, for instance, offers a CRM-compatible tool that helps keep marketers in the loop regarding viewer engagement.

But even though there is much to be gained from live streaming video, it is not without its problems. There is always the chance that viewers will post critical or negative comments. “You have to be prepared to ‘censor’ if needed,” says Ray Wang, founder and principal analyst at Constellation Research.

Brent Leary, cofounder of CRM Essentials, concedes that there’s an authenticity that comes across through the low-budget of live streaming, but companies shouldn’t take that as a license to create shoddy productions. The content must be valuable.

For that reason, experts suggest that companies have enough people working behind the scenes to plan out what each stream will contain. They should figure out who their audience is and tailor the content accordingly.

“If you look at what goes on on TV and on the interview shows, it’s not just people sitting there talking all the time,” Leary says. “There are visuals coming up, stats being shown, interludes—things that make you want to watch.” Similarly, Leary suggests adding intros and outlines to clue viewers in on what they should expect from the stream.

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