February 16, 2021 7 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
The fact that video is a great way for brands to connect with their target audience is no secret. In fact, research from HubSpot reveals that 85 percent of businesses use video marketing, while 88 percent of marketers report that this tactic generates a positive return on investment for their company.
But not all video content is created equal. Notably, live video content has seen a significant increase in popularity, and is one video trend that all brands should take note of.
The rise of live video
Live video has become an increasingly popular way of consuming online content — and the numbers prove it. Research from Livestream found that 80 percent of consumers would prefer watching a brand’s live video to reading a blog post, while 82 percent prefer live video to social media content.
Even more notable is live video’s impact on viewers’ financial decisions. The survey also found that 67 percent of live stream viewers bought tickets to similar events — such as concerts or conferences. 45 percent of viewers said they would actually pay to watch live video from a favorite performer or speaker.
These attitudes are directly reflected in ever-increasing live video viewership trends. Gaming streaming platform Twitch achieved over 1.6 billion hours of viewed content in October 2020, increasing its year-over-year monthly viewership totals by 99 percent. Facebook live streams also achieved massive increases in viewership during the pandemic.
Clearly, with an ever-expanding audience that is eager to consume live content, there is ample opportunity for brands in a wide range of niches.
What makes live video so appealing?
During a recent phone call with Vlad Rigenco, founder and CEO of Dood Live Stream, he explained, “A big part of the appeal with live streaming is that it helps to bridge the physical world and virtual world. The entertainment industry has been a good example of that, particularly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Live streaming a concert or theater performance helps recreate the experience of actually ‘being there.’ The same is true with brands — live streaming gives the sense of being part of a physical event in a way that pre-recorded content can’t truly replicate.”
The idea of attending an event — even digitally — helps provide a sense of urgency, while also facilitating a sense of community. This video content is happening live, right now, and it won’t be the same when you are viewing it later on.
Part of this comes from the opportunity for direct, real-time engagement. Search Engine Journal reports that Facebook live videos see six times the number of engagements as non-live video. Audiences want to comment on what they are watching — whether to get a response from the streamer, or to engage with other viewers.
In addition, live stream content is less likely to feel “overly produced,” like other marketing content sometimes does. This helps generate a sense of authenticity that further draws in audiences. They feel that they are getting a behind-the-scenes experience that can drive additional engagement and loyalty.
Successfully incorporating live video into your brand’s marketing strategy should start with the same basic question used with any other content marketing tactic — how will you provide value to your audience?
Generally speaking, live video content should aim to educate or entertain, while still being approachable. For some brands, this could mean offering tutorials on different things related to your products and services. For others, it might entail a Q&A with someone who works for the company. Consistently producing new live content is key to keeping the audience engaged.
Successful video content is planned out in advance, rather than being 100 percent “off the cuff.” Ensuring that basic talking points have been scripted out will avoid awkward lulls in your presentation and keep the audience engaged throughout. At the same time, live streaming brands should also be willing to take things in a different direction than anticipated based on the interests of their audience.
A great example of this comes from public speaker Brian Franzo. In an interview with Convince and Convert, he related, “I was giving a tour behind the scenes with the goal to make the streaming a ‘backstage pass’ event, when several viewers started asking questions about my new Samsung phone … So I switched gears, and we started talking about technology because that is where participants wanted to go.”
Also worth noting is the importance of streaming to the right platforms for reaching your target audience. While Facebook Live and YouTube Live offer great avenues for reaching a wide audience, some brands may find even better engagement when they also stream their content to more niche platforms that are closely targeted to their audience.
Let live video serve as a springboard for your event
With the current challenges of hosting a live in-person event, entrepreneurs and event planners have pivoted to incorporate livestream video. However, one of the challenges of live streaming a physical event is managing the sales and ticketing process, as event organizers don’t typically want to stream their event on social media for free.
That’s why Spencer Elliott and Patrick VanDusen co-founded ViewStub. ViewStub is a hybrid event system that connects attendees with virtual and in-person experiences. The platform offers a comprehensive suite of event services for business conferences, sporting events, music festivals, concerts, and organizers looking to bring their event experience to a global audience.
When they invited me to serve as an equity advisor in 2019, the value of generating additional revenue via a Pay-Per-View model, with no upfront costs, was immediately obvious even prior to the global crisis of 2020.
Today, some of the biggest corporations have already embraced the hybrid event trend. The Home Depot, one of the world’s largest home improvement retailers, recently utilized ViewStub’s software to run a promotional event based around holiday gift cards.
By leveraging an exclusive virtual concert featuring Brad Paisley, The Home Depot granted free access to shoppers who purchased $50 or more in gift cards. The online concert event was a huge promotional success for Home Depot’s holiday push. By utilizing the virtual concert as a marketing strategy, The Home Depot was able to boost holiday sales while giving its shoppers an exclusive experience with a famous country superstar.
“We know that virtual events were popular in 2020, but the future of events are hybrid experiences, like the Paisley concert. We currently refer to some vehicles as ‘hybrid cars’ now, but when all cars become hybrid, we will just call them ‘cars’ again. The same thing goes for events,” says Elliott. ViewStub is hosting its own hybrid experience this summer called “EventNEXT,” a one-day conference is designed to educate event professionals on scaling their events at a global level.
Live stream content is a compelling and efficient strategy to expand your brand in today’s virtual world.
Well-executed live content ultimately helps your brand feel more real and accessible to your target audience, and it gets you in front of more people than ever before. As you regularly incorporate live streaming content into your marketing strategy, you will be well equipped to build powerful brand awareness that leads to meaningful sales growth.