Why Livestreaming is Taking Over Digital Marketing

Marketing forecasters predicted that 2016 would be the year livestreaming took off, and as we come to the close of Q3, it seems those predictions have come true. Companies from automobile manufacturers to clothing designers have begun to incorporate real-time broadcasts into their social media and marketing campaigns, with serious success. Consumers will view an average of 2-3 minutes of pre-recorded content, but they’ll watch live video for 20 minutes, on average.

So we know this much: livestreaming is more than a passing fad, and it’s definitely on the radar of smart social and marketing teams. But, as with any new, hyper-successful medium, you might still be scratching your head about why livestreaming is such a success–and the “why” is an important piece of the puzzle if you and your team are hoping to hit the highest engagement numbers.

Why Livestreaming Works

There are two big reasons livestreaming is such a boon to marketers: volume and speed. Livestreaming allows brands to share a large volume of content with their audience, from behind-the-scenes footage to the best of UGC. And perhaps best of all, the very nature of livestreaming lends itself to video content that hasn’t been run through the production mill, meaning companies can bring the content to their audience much more quickly than they can with more traditional marketing materials. Instead of seeming unprofessional or silly, livestream videos make viewers feel more connected to the brand: they’re offered an insider’s peek at the inner workings of a company, rather than the glossy, produced picture professional ads offer—which of course also saves company resources. Through livestreaming, the audience feels more connected to the brand because they feel as though they’re part of it.

“What streaming video does best is allow brands to drop the corporate veil, connect human-to-human, and allow users to participate in brand storytelling in ways that enrich the customer experience,” writes Kathy Klotz-Guest at Convince & Convert.

Some brands are already achieving these goals, and we’ve highlighted essential elements of their blueprints:

Nestlé and Periscope

Nestlé took advantage of the hopefulness and excitement of the first day of summer (#FirstDayofSummer) by combining a classic frozen treat, social media influencers, and livestreaming.

Nestlé collaborated with social influencers to produce livestreams on Periscope featuring Drumsticks–you remember, the chocolate and nut covered sundae-in-a-cone. The campaign included popular influencers enjoying both Drumsticks and the best parts of summer: amusement parks, swimming, boating, campfires–even slip ‘n slides.

On June 21st, Nestlé became the first brand to feature sponsored content on Periscope, which didn’t allow ads at the time, Adweek reports. The effort required the use of some creative loopholes: Drumstick added paid Twitter support to promote their Periscope content.

Perhaps the most notable part of the campaign (and one likely to make even the most easy-going social media teams anxious): Nestlé didn’t provide influencers with a script, or even specific guidelines beyond the theme of Classic Summer. Instead Nestlé left the content of each video up to each influencer. Nestlé created a Periscope account just for Drumsticks where they also streamed #FirstDayofSummer videos.

The campaign produced 21 live videos in 12 hours at five locations (beach, amusement park, city, backyard and lake), and it exceeded all KPI objectives (from the Shorty Awards and Nestlé):

  • 1.2M impressions were generated
  • 122 Tweets were posted promoting Drumstick’s Twitter page and influencers’ activity (with a cumulative potential reach of 4.5 million followers)
  • 1 hr and 55 min of branded content was produced
  • 68 hrs and 41 min of branded videos were watched by consumers
  • Over 5,000 Periscope views were tallied
  • 6,500+ views and more than 145,000+ hearts were generated (from both brand and influencer engagements)

The campaign was even entered for a Shorty Award for the best in social media, which take place in April.

General Electric, Facebook Live, and Infrastructure for the Rio Olympic Games

GE helped build the infrastructure for the 2016 Olympic Games. To draw attention to their work (and their brand), GE turned to Facebook Live. Before the Games kicked off, GE jumped on the #Droneweek bandwagon and streamed a series of videos of drones zipping around the grounds of the Games, all of which showcased their technology. During one week in June, GE used Facebook Live to stream a series of 18-minute videos which included, “bird’s eye views of the Olympic stadium and interviews with technicians, and the brand answered viewer questions in the comments section,” writes PR Week. You can still view each video on GE’s Facebook page.

Sam Olstein, global director of innovation at GE, explained why they chose Facebook: “The social web is being completely driven by Facebook—I think no one can really deny the traction, engagement and reach that is happening with video on Facebook,” writes AdAge.

Day 1 alone of GE’s Facebook Live efforts garnered 632,203 views.

Livestreaming captures the attention of savvy digital customers who often feel like they’ve seen it all before because it allows companies to actually deliver new, behind-the-scenes or insidery content. As video quality and mobile tech continue to improve and the digital landscape becomes more and more saturated, we expect livestreaming’s popularity to continue to rise, both with consumers and with marketers. And with advertising dollars just beginning to be funneled toward livestreaming—a recent survey by Trusted Media Brands found that “88% of agency respondents stated that they ‘might”’ or ‘definitely will’ invest in live stream video advertising over the next six months” — we’re really just at the beginning. Fall brings lots of opportunities for livestreaming: Football season, back-to-school, Halloween, and then the winter holidays and awards season follow. We can picture exclusive backstage access to games and events as well as intimate peeks at the lives of celebrities, athletes, and social influencers in the months to come.

If your company or brand is hoping to expand livestreaming efforts, we have some great tips.

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Julia Eddington is a freelance tech and personal finance writer and editor living in New York City.