In 2021, video content reigns supreme for social media marketing. Video has long been prioritized over still images and articles on Facebook. Video apps like TikTok and Snapchat are wildly popular (and addictive!). Recently, Instagram announced it was pivoting away from its established brand of showcasing people's photography skills to focus primarily on video.
If there was ever a time for your business to get in front of the camera, it’s now.
And the video that will get your business the most bang for its buck is live streaming.
Live streaming on social media is quickly becoming the easiest and most efficient way to engage with your followers in an authentic, transparent way while also boosting your visibility to potential clients.
Live streaming is a posting option on social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok, YouTube, and Twitch. With the click of a button, you can go on camera, and anyone who is currently on that platform can watch you: your followers or strangers who happen to stumble upon your account.
Think of it like television: you have sitcoms and dramas that are scripted and shot, then edited, and you have live events like the Oscars and the Super Bowl. So, likewise, live streaming is like the Super Bowl.
Sound scary? It can certainly be a little nerve-wracking, but proper preparation can take care of any pre-stream jitters you might have. (More on that later!) And if you can conquer those fears, the rewards you stand to reap are huge:
It helps build authenticity and trust between you and your customers – they see you're human, they see how much you care about your business and the services you're providing them, and by live streaming with them and allowing them to give you real-time feedback in the chatroom, they know you care about what they think.
Speaking of the chat, you get real-time feedback and genuine engagement – you can see how they feel about your brand, see what questions, concerns, or feedback they have, and see what they love about your business and what they wish would change.
It increases brand awareness and visibility – not only do social media platforms prioritize live video and notify your followers that you're going live, but it will prioritize it in search functions, too, so you'll reach people who don't follow you and possibly get new followers.
It’s cheaper and easier to produce than Video On Demand. There’s no long script to write or memorize, no complicated camera shots, no stopping and starting over, and no lengthy editing schedule. There’s no arguing that this saves time (and money)!
Each platform is a little different, but basically, all you need to do is have an account with the platform you want to live stream on, a computer with a webcam or a smartphone, and then push the button to go live. For most social media platforms, it’s pretty much that simple.
It’s free content
Besides the benefits listed earlier, live streams are another form of content that can be repurposed and posted on your other accounts. For example, Facebook and LinkedIn will automatically post your live stream to your profile page, where people can go back and watch it later. (This is particularly handy to advertise to followers who may not have been available while you were going live.)
Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat will allow you to save and download a recording of the stream that you can then edit however you want. The same goes for a third-party software like OBS if you choose to use one to Livestream on YouTube or Twitch. You can edit down an enjoyable, informative, or funny moment of the stream to use as added promotion for whatever it is that you were live streaming to promote, in the form of a short video or audio clips, still photographs, and animated GIFs.
It energizes your follower base
Live streaming is also exciting for your followers. After nearly 18 months of social distancing and a somewhat nebulous fall and winter ahead of us, people are looking for new, exciting things to do in their spare time. Going live gives your followers something to look forward to, plan for, and ultimately participate in, giving them the feeling of connection with others they might be craving.
It can help you get new followers on other platforms
Another bonus to live streaming is potentially increasing your follower count on a social media account you feel is lacking. For example, say you have many followers on Facebook, but not a lot on Instagram, and you want to grow your follower count there. You have a couple of options: you can live stream on Facebook, meeting your followers where they are, and ask them to follow you on Instagram, or you can choose to stream on Instagram and ask your Facebook followers to join you there, thus encouraging them to follow you.
While live streaming is simple and easy, you do need a few things to make your first stream successful:
Strong, dependable Wi-Fi – you need at least 5 Mbps for high quality, uninterrupted live streaming
A quiet, distraction-free space – while you're probably less likely to run into loud distractions when you live stream inside, you can live stream outside; make sure you're in a spot where you won't be interrupted (and have a great cell signal)
A good camera so people can see you – the camera on any new or relatively new computer or smartphone is high quality; if your phone or computer is more than five years old, investigate getting a good webcam.
A good microphone so people can hear you – like cameras, if you’re using a new or relatively new computer or smartphone, the built-in microphone should be sufficient
Good lighting so people can see you – if you're inside, invest in a few simple ring lights to put behind the camera, so they illuminate your face. You can use natural lighting in a pinch by sitting facing a window but do NOT sit with the window behind you, or all anyone will see is your silhouette!
A bullet-point list of what you plan to talk about - while you don't need a script to read from (nor should you), you must know what you plan to talk about. So, an easy-to-read list of the points you'd like to make will keep you on track but won't make you sound like a robot.
A moderator who can watch the chat for questions and remove trolls – this is easier on YouTube and Twitch and can be tricky on, say, Instagram, but, if at all possible, have someone from your team in the chat not only to isolate good questions for you to answer, positive feedback for you to comment on, and kick out any troublemakers. (Instagram offers a filter that you can set up before you Livestream that will automatically block any comments containing words on the block list – that can help with potential trolls.)
Last but not least, make sure you give your followers a heads up when you will be live streaming so they can plan to show up! Start advertising about a week beforehand on your social channels and anything else you use to connect with your customers – that way; you won't just be talking to yourself. Happy streaming!