Content Marketing

The power of live

By April 12, 2016 No Comments

The latest and most significant trend to hit the world of social media marketing is undoubtedly live streaming. It’s the next phase in the rise of video broadcasting, which, in terms of engagement, has been outscoring all other forms of marketing by a country mile. The question now is, how much of an impact will live streaming have?

Videos that are live streamed get twice the engagement other videos get

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg is apparently ‘obsessed’ with the potential of live streaming, hence the recent release of Facebook Live, a product that lets people broadcast video to friends and followers. Mark’s made it his top priority at Facebook HQ.

Mark’s made it his top priority at Facebook HQ

At Twitter HQ, they’re every bit as excited about live video and incorporating it into the platform. Earlier in the year, the company announced that Periscope CEO Kayvon Beykpour has been added to the executive team, indicating just how important Twitter considers video and Periscope to their future plans.

Live brands

So, with two of the biggest social channels committing so wholeheartedly to live broadcasting, it’s easy to see how significant a role it will have in social media marketing, and eventually in the marketing strategies of big corporates.

GE has been quick to experiment with live streaming video. In July, the energy giant launched #droneweek on Periscope, in which they broadcast live video film by a GE-engineered drone flying around the US. The brand interacted with fans on Twitter, using @GeneralElectric and @GEDronePilot accounts.

Also, Spotify was one of the first brands to experiment with live streaming on Periscope. The music streaming platform used Periscope to broadcast an impromptu performance with Villagers front man Connor O’Brien. In Spotify’s much larger #SpotifyHouse campaign, they used Meerkat to live stream extensive video coverage of the SXSW music festival.

Spotify was one of the first brands to experiment with live streaming

A growing trend

GlobalWebIndex (GWI) released a report at the turn of 2016 that delved into the trend a little further, looking at consumer and market use of Periscope and Meerkat. It shows that at the moment, it’s still early days in terms of adoption, with only a small number of consumers using live-streaming apps. In fact, GWI reckons about 1.5% globally are engaging with Meerkat and just under 2% are using Periscope.

In the business arena, the numbers remain fairly low there too. Considering both Periscope and Meerkat have seen growth in the last 12 months, it’s hardly the type of dramatic increase that you may expect, especially now that Twitter and Facebook have given the live-streaming medium their professional approval.

But, while these stats aren’t particularly startling, a little probing will reveal live streaming’s potential and why Zuckerberg is so obsessed with it.

First off, video consistently ranks among the top activities on sites like Facebook and Twitter, and videos that are live streamed get twice the engagement other videos get. Now, I’ve seen quite a few of these live streams on Facebook as I’m often prompted with notifications telling me to watch them. And if I was to judge these streams on how interesting they are, I’d have to say that they are not at all interesting. Very boring, in fact. To me, the major appeal these videos have is that they’re live.

The reason why I find these streams so boring is probably because people are just getting to grips with live streaming. No doubt they’ll improve as time goes on and users realise how creative they can be with them. Add that to the fact that these videos are live and in real-time, Zuckerberg’s obsession starts becoming a bit more understandable.

They’ll improve as time goes on and users realise how creative they can be

Secondly, mobile internet use is bigger than ever. As more people prefer to access sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram etc. via their mobile phones, there’s a better chance of them being in a position to be marketed to through live streaming. Plus, the arrival of ad-blocking on mobile means that native advertising will become more important for reaching and engaging consumers.

GWI looked at young mobile users specifically and found that 40% of them say they watch native forms of video on their smartphone more frequently than they did a year ago. Also, GWI discovered that the preferences these younger users have (in terms of which types of live broadcast they watch) may prove to be fertile marketing ground for brands.

They watch native forms of video on their smartphone more frequently

Most popular of all are broadcasts with funny or entertaining content, which is of interest to more than half of mobile users aged 16-34. Next popular, at 40%, are broadcasts of breaking news stories. At 38% are music concerts. After that, younger users expressed interest in watching live videos broadcast by brands at 26%, celebrities at 21% and vloggers at 19%.

For brands and businesses wanting to make the most of the inevitable increase in live streaming, these audiences will be a great place to start broadcasting to. GWI’s research may show that live video is in its formative stages, but it won’t be for long.

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