Many social media platforms, including Facebook and Instagram, have added livestreaming functionality. But livestreaming isn’t just for celebrities and influencers; businesses are increasingly using livestreaming on social media as a marketing tool.
Businesses can use livestreaming as a form of social media marketing to connect with customers, generate more followers, demonstrate products and services, and educate and entertain viewers while moving them closer to a sale.
We’ll explore what livestreaming is, how it can benefit a brand, and how to get started.
What is livestreaming?
While most social media platforms let users upload video content, livestreaming is video content in real time. Since it’s in real time, livestreamers can take and answer questions and interact with viewers. You can also record livestreamed presentations and post them online later to reach a larger audience.
In the past, livestreaming was solely a function of the best video conferencing services, such as Zoom, Skype, and Webex by Cisco. However, livestreaming via social media platforms is now the norm. Major social media platforms have enormous potential audiences for livestreamers. Since users already have social media apps and mobile browsers on their smartphones and tablets, they don’t have to download or set up additional software to view a livestream.
How can livestreaming benefit your business?
According to 2022 Wyzowl video marketing statistics, a typical user consumes an average of 19 hours of online video per week, an increase of an hour from the previous year. With such a ready and receptive audience, here are a few upsides to using livestreaming for your brand.
- It helps brands connect with viewers. People love video, making livestreaming an engaging format that helps viewers connect with presenters. livestreaming allows businesses to showcase processes and products in use, display graphs, play music, and present images and other data. Viewers can absorb a great deal of information in a relatively short time without reading or researching.
- It’s easy and cost-effective. In the past, it was expensive and difficult to produce and edit high-quality videos. Livestreaming on social media platforms has changed the game, making it easy and inexpensive to create and share compelling videos that can boost revenue. You don’t need a studio, sophisticated camera, or high-tech editing software to livestream. All you need is a smartphone or webcam, decent lighting, and a social media account.
- It extends your reach. Since people can watch a livestream video from anywhere, your potential audience is exponentially extended. Viewers don’t have to be within driving distance of your location or even within your country to view your content. And there is no shortage of social media users to view your livestream, as social media usage is nearly ubiquitous among adults in the United States, with 270 million active social media users in 2022, according to data presented by The Global Statistics.
- It builds trust and authority. When potential customers see your product in action, they gain confidence in the company. A live feed is instrumental in building trust and strengthening your company’s reputation; it’s happening in real time, and the company can’t edit malfunctions and bloopers. A live event lends authority to the information you’re presenting, and since viewers can ask questions, they can satisfy themselves that the presenter is a subject matter expert.
- It can humanize your company. It’s easy for businesses, particularly e-commerce ones, to become faceless. A livestream shows customers that there are actual humans behind the company, allowing them to connect with your brand emotionally. Showcasing your manufacturing process, employees, founders or customers heightens this effect.
- It helps you find your biggest fans. Often, your livestream viewers have a strong connection to your company. They may be loyal, high-value customers; people who have already interacted with your brand; or people who have been referred by someone they know. livestreaming is an excellent opportunity to build brand advocacy, connect with fans, and encourage them to buy or to refer others.
- It increases your visibility. Most social platforms prioritize live content in their algorithms, so live content shows up at the top of followers’ feeds. You can also benefit from pre-registered viewers spreading the word about your event to their friends on social media.
According to a Livestream.com and New York Magazine survey, 80% of people would rather watch a livestream than read a blog post from a brand.
When does a brand benefit from livestreaming?
Not every business will benefit from livestreaming. It could be a good idea for your company if these statements are true:
- You have an online community that regularly engages with you.
- You are well spoken and not camera shy.
- You have a product that works so well, a demonstration will be impactful.
- Your customers are curious about your company’s processes.
- Your product or service is expensive, and some free education might help potential customers feel more comfortable with your value proposition.
- You’re launching a new product or service.
- People have heard of you but aren’t sure what your company does and how it can help them.
- Your customer base is geographically scattered.
- Your company offers a new, innovative product or an old product in an innovative way, and it needs to be explained and demonstrated.
What are the top livestreaming platforms?
The most effective livestreaming social media services are Facebook Live, Instagram Live, YouTube Live, TikTok and Twitter.
Facebook Live is one of the most popular livestreaming services due to its early rollout and huge user base. With Facebook Live, you use your equipment to broadcast live on your page’s stream to all your followers.
By establishing an easy-to-find, easy-to-use Live button on new posts – and the ability to save what’s streamed so you can post it later – Facebook Live makes livestreaming seamless. You can control who sees your broadcast, whether that’s anyone (on or off Facebook), friends, specific people, friends you’ve tagged, all friends with some exceptions, only friends you select, or only you (which is good for trial runs).
Provide a text description for those who join late and add filters and other effects to the video to retain interest. You can even write and draw on top of the screen, a useful tool for highlighting important items or ideas.
To host a successful Q&A on Facebook Live, promote your livestream in advance, prep the main points you want to cover, and interact with your viewers.
Instagram, owned by Facebook’s parent company Meta, also has a livestreaming capability. Tap the plus sign from anywhere on your news feed and select Live. Add a title, choose your broadcast audience, and tap Record.
Followers who are currently online will receive a notification when you go live; the livestream will appear at the front of the Instagram Stories menu, enabling you to enlarge your audience beyond those already aware of your event.
You can see and reply to real-time comments during the event, increasing the livestream’s interactive nature. You can block specific commenters or filter out particular phrases and keywords so you don’t get distracted by haters and trolls. Instagram Live events are limited to one hour, which is a shorter time period than other platforms.
Instagram Live works well for Instagram business accounts of highly visual brands, such as those in the beauty, fashion, or travel industries.
The birthplace of online video, YouTube has continued its quest to bring video of all kinds to its more than 2 billion users. Most people on YouTube Live use a desktop or laptop computer rather than a smartphone. In fact, you are required to use a computer for livestreaming unless you have at least 1,000 subscribers, in which case you can stream from mobile.
Because companies on YouTube are usually familiar with video marketing, they’re more likely to have high-end cameras, lighting, and microphones, so the video quality tends to be higher than on other social platforms.
Existing subscribers will be notified of your livestream event, and you can use your channel and stream to boost each other with YouTube’s cross-promotion features. To start your live YouTube stream, select the camera icon in the top right corner of your browser or the plus sign on the mobile app, followed by Go Live.
TikTok is the short video social media network of choice for Millennials and Gen Z users. If this user base describes your target market, TikTok livestreams are likely a good choice. As with other livestreaming apps, you can use filters and create a title and cover photo. A unique feature of TikTok’s livestream is the ability of viewers to send “gifts,” digital rewards that the streamer can redeem for real money. This allows you to turn your livestream into an instant revenue-generating event.
Like on Instagram, TikTok livestreams are limited to one hour. This is likely ample time for TikTok’s user base.
To livestream on TikTok, you must be at least 16 years old and have at least 1,000 followers on the platform; you must be at least 18 to receive gifts. To start a livestream in the TikTok app, tap the plus sign and scroll until you see the Live option in the menu. If you don’t meet the livestreaming requirements, you won’t see this option.
TikTok Live is the only livestreaming social media platform that allows you to earn money directly from your livestream within the app.
Twitter used to own Periscope, one of the original livestreaming platforms. A few years ago, Twitter absorbed Periscope and renamed it Twitter Live. Twitter Live doesn’t have the same filters and effects as other platforms. However, one nice feature is the ability to have multiple hosts by tapping Invite Friends.
Use Twitter hashtags in your description to help people find your event in their feeds. Twitter users are often interested in news and technology, so if your company provides that kind of product or content, Twitter Live is a good choice for your livestream event.
To start your livestream on Twitter, tap the Compose button and the camera icon, and select Live from the bottom menu. Or, if you want a more professional broadcast, use Media Studio Producer, which also allows you to monetize your live video stream.
Twitter Live is the easiest livestreaming platform to use if you have special guests as part of your livestream or if you’re featuring remote employees.
How to create a livestreaming strategy
Livestreaming is an engaging way to showcase your company, products and expertise. It’s also an excellent method for enlarging your customer base.
To take advantage of this technology, consider the following streaming strategies:
- Make your livestream unique. Like any other social media or content strategy, you should have a unique offering, such as a theme. Think about what sets you apart from the competition. It could be your expertise, unique product features or uses, an artisan manufacturing process, or your outstanding team and support.
- Focus on your livestream audience’s needs. What does your audience need? If they aren’t already familiar with the product or subject matter, they may need an explanation about how it works. Maybe they know what you do but they aren’t convinced it provides enough value. In this case, you’ll want to show actual results, case studies and use cases, perhaps with some testimonials. Keep in mind that viewers must be engaged and entertained, so be sure to keep their attention.
- Surprise your livestream audience. Livestreaming is the perfect format to surprise and delight viewers. You can do this by giving something of value away for free or startling them with an unannounced cameo by an influencer.
- Promote your livestream. Don’t assume that people will show up just because you scheduled a live event. This is rarely the case. Promote your livestream to your email marketing list, on your social media accounts, in person and on your website. You can even use social media advertising to promote your event with a Facebook boosted post or promoted tweet. Give people a teaser of the content to establish that it’s worth their time.
- Remind people about your livestream. Too often, people sign up for a webinar or livestream, get bogged down in their daily lives, and skip the event. Give people the ability to pre-register by telling them only limited spots are available. You’ll acquire their names and email addresses so you can schedule automated email reminders.
- Interact with your livestream viewers. Before you get started, give people a few minutes to log on. As you see people logging on, acknowledge them by name and welcome them. If you have viewers from all over the country or world, mention where they’re from so viewers see you have a broad audience. Tell viewers if you’re going to take questions throughout the presentation, at specific points, or afterward only, and tell them how to ask questions (by video or in the chat box). Taking questions in the chat box allows you to choose the best questions to help the most people.
- Wrap up with a call to action. At the end of your presentation, tell viewers what you want them to do next. Do you want them to make a purchase, set an appointment, see more content, or attend an event? Ideally, they’ll be happy with the value you provided in the livestream, and that will make them more likely to move forward in the sales funnel.
Eleonora Israele contributed to the writing and research in this article.