Streaming video is the third most popular online activity according to marketing research group GfK Global. Facebook, Periscope, YouTube, and others have provided easy and cost-effective ways to get your message out to the masses. Periscope alone has hosted more than 200 million broadcasts since its inception in 2015. Several platforms have increased their live streaming offerings and capabilities because audiences demanded it.
The rebirth of live streaming over the last few years has given many brands and publishers the opportunity for online video success. However, some marketers haven’t reaped the rewards of this delivery format, whether it was due to lackluster effort, tight budgets, or simply using the wrong platform.
Streaming video content needs to be carefully planned. Of course, there are instances such as breaking news or shock-value content that cannot be planned. For most of us, however, a little pre-production can a long way in getting better results with live streaming. Here are five tips to consider for your next live streaming video campaign.
Timing Is Everything
Recently, NBC announced that the Olympics streaming video efforts for Rio 2016 reached 2 billion live streaming minutes. This was a first.
While live streaming numbers continue to grow due to cord cutters and digital audiences, publishers need to realize that their numbers will most likely not compare to these events. Take an honest look at your video-on-demand (VOD) metrics before starting any live streaming project. Analyzing and discussing those numbers will present you with realistic expectations when it comes to ROI on your live streaming efforts.
The number-one question we ask our clients in planning for live streaming campaigns is why it matters to be live. If they can’t come up with a good answer, then chances are that this project can be turned into a VOD.
What succeeds are things like product releases, exclusive behind-the-scenes looks, Q&As with an influencer, and news that your audience will hear for the first time. These are topics that can create a sense of urgency and benefit from being presented in a live streaming format.
It’s absolutely essential to present your live stream at the right time with the right topic. Go back to your VOD metrics and find out if there is a time when your audience is watching your content and engaging with it. Pinpointing those days and hours could spell out the time for you to go live with a stream.
Don’t Forget About Global Audiences
Marketers need to know about their target audience before selecting a time to go live. One common mistake that many brands make is forgetting about their global audience. While the time of day might be ideal in the U.S., it may be the middle of the night somewhere else. Choose a time that’s going to work best for your target audience and focus on that demographic.
One solution that has worked for our clients is streaming on two separate occasions. This provides the option to reach many audiences in different time zones. Back to the Olympics, NBC saw a slip in primetime television viewership when some marquee events were shown on tape delay. It attributed this to viewers live streaming earlier in the day and knowing the outcome, becoming less inclined to watch.
Publishers may need to experiment to see if their audience will tune in at one set time. Otherwise, they should broadcast twice if they need to reach a worldwide audience.
Have a Plan for Before and After
Another common pitfall of live streaming campaigns is failing to plan for what happens before and after the event. There were more than 1.45 million mentions of the 2016 Olympics opening ceremony across social media. Omnicom Media Group examined the impact of social media mentions during the Olympics and discussed how the conversation is always on, before, during, and after these events.
One of the major differences between traditional VOD and live streaming is the amount of engagement the videos can receive. In live events, the audience can dictate the entire experience. This holds especially true with Q&A topics or town hall-style events. Marketers should have a plan for promotion, moderation, discussion, and overall conversation with viewers. This may require additional staff and resources for some publishers.
If social media is part of the plan for your live stream, think about designating resources towards tracking and engaging with fans after the event. Not only will you get some honest feedback about your stream, but you’ll also be able to gather numbers that impact the overall campaign.
Think About Advertising
Between social apps like Periscope and Facebook Live, audiences expect to be informed, entertained, and educated at no cost. There’s a good chance that your viewer will not want to pay anything to watch your live event. For most of us in B2B/B2C environments, we’re not producing premium content and therefore will not see much value in charging for live streams.
While that’s a scary thought, it doesn’t mean that a profit model can’t be created around a live stream. Sponsorships are becoming more and more popular between brands and live stream publishers. Almost 10 percent of the $1.2 billion in advertising NBC sold before the Rio Games was targeted at streaming, according to the New York Times.
Leveraging the sales department in preparation for a large streaming event can lead to brand deals and sponsorships. Allowing complementary brands to advertise in or around your stream can result in income or, at the very least, cover the costs of your expenses.
There are various ways streaming creators can sell these packages. Banner ads across landing pages, in-player logos, or pre-roll ads are all common options.
Choosing the Right Platform
Some of the advertising choices mentioned above depend on the platform used. For example, the option to insert pre-roll in-stream ads isn’t available to all publishers on Facebook Live or YouTube live as of this article release.
Most publishers will need to consider using an online video platform (OVP) or purchasing these options with a webcasting company. While these come at an extra cost, publishers will have many more options over a free service.
Device compatibility is another big-ticket item to think about with your platform: 81 percent of U.S. smartphone users stream video on their devices, according to marketing research company NPD group. It’s important to test and ensure that your stream can play on a wide variety of devices including smartphones and tablets.
Finally, publishers need to thoroughly evaluate social live streaming platforms if they choose to use a social channel. Our general rule is to choose a few social media channels that make sense for your brand and dedicate time to them. If you’re already active on YouTube, then use YouTube for your live efforts. The same goes for Facebook Live and Periscope (Twitter). There’s no need to try and run a live broadcast on each of these channels; look at where your target audience is and use that channel for your stream.
Live streaming can be simple or complex depending on the goals and needs of your event. Organizations should discuss the items mentioned in this article and evaluate what it is they’re trying to accomplish. It’s definitely not for everyone, so don’t make the mistake of trying to live stream when you don’t need to!