Live streaming: are you missing out?

September, 3 2019

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Did you know that 30% of people who watched a live streamed event attended the physical event the following year? Or that 92% of people who watch videos on their mobile devices will share them with others?

Live streaming has the power to reach and engage large numbers of people, far beyond the physical scope of your event.  

In the B2C space, brands like cosmetics company Benefit use it to show customers how to apply their products, adding value and increasing engagement. Buzzfeed has also used live streaming to improve brand engagement; their Facebook Live video of two employees trying to make a watermelon explode went viral with 11 million views to date.

While nothing beats face-to-face meetings for engagement, live streaming is the next best thing. It builds hype, increases participation, raises brand awareness and, the best part: it costs very little and can actually increase revenue. So why don’t more events use it?

One of the main reasons is technology. Live streaming has always come with a 30-second delay - not so live after all. But that’s about to change. The rise of new technology that can provide sub-2 second glass-to-glass streaming means live streaming looks set to become the next big thing in the events space. Here’s how to make sure you don’t miss out…

Do people actually watch live streams?

The short answer is yes. People love video, and they love it even more when they’re watching in real time. The physical barriers of time, money and distance are all instantly removed with live streaming, so you can be anywhere in the world and still experience an event as it’s happening.

Online searches for the term ‘Facebook live stream’ rose 330% between 2016 and 2018, proving the demand for live videos. So why do we have such a huge appetite for live streaming? 

Apart from the sense of engagement it creates, live streaming feeds our appreciation of authenticity. When something is live, it’s real and truthful. It’s the next best thing to actually being there physically. Anything could happen, anything could go wrong, and this makes live streaming innately more human and more relatable than pre-recorded videos. 

What makes people watch and how can you encourage views?

When you stream live content, you’re already at an advantage compared to sharing pre-recorded videos. This is because most platforms favour live videos. If you go live on Facebook, your followers are more likely to see it on their newsfeed than if you share a message, image or video. 

Another instant advantage is the share factor. Due to its transient nature, live footage requires immediate sharing if people want their friends to see it. However, the popularity and shareability of live content isn’t enough to guarantee high viewing numbers. In order to reach an optimal number of people and keep them engaged, you need a carefully thought out strategy.

Planning and consistency are crucial - especially when you’re trying to grow a following. Who will be watching your live streamed event? Are you trying to reach people who are already familiar with your event or are you trying to reach a new audience? The answers to these questions will help you shape strategies for promoting and raising awareness of your live stream.

Applying the same promotion strategies used to increase in-person event registrations can help to increase the number of viewers. You need to make it easy for people to watch.

By actively promoting participation through social media and email, sending reminders the day before and immediately prior to the stream, and giving them a copy of the schedule, you make finding and watching your stream as easy as possible. If people have to look for your live content or aren’t sure of the time and date, you’ll lose viewers. 

Another important aspect of planning is the venue for your event. How suitable is it for filming? What equipment do they have? What will you need to source yourself? 

Live streaming an event is not the same as a live vlog. When people live stream their personal lives, a bit of shaky camera action or imperfect audio is all part of the charm and authenticity. In corporate events, the stakes are higher. Issues with quality, technology cutting out or inaudible audio can swiftly damage the image of your event and your overall brand reputation.

When you’re choosing your venue, live streaming shouldn’t be an afterthought. Many venues these days have on-site studios with HD production switching, editing equipment and suitable bandwidth for live streaming. 

How do you make sure the content is compelling?

When Starbucks broadcast their first live event in 2016, it wasn’t actually about coffee. It was to promote National Voter Registration Day - and it achieved just shy of 177,000 views. 

The event took place at Rufus Park, Queens, NY, and featured, amongst other things, an interview with Starbucks CEO, Howard Schulz, and rapper, Common, about the importance of voting. How did they engage so many people? Prior to the event, viewers were asked to send in questions in order to promote viewer engagement. This meant people were more likely to watch and stay watching so they could see if their question would be asked.

When it comes to creating compelling content, the foundational rules are always the same, whether it’s an article or a live stream: keep it focussed, clear and engaging. But the big difference with live streaming is that people need to be actively engaged or participating. 

Unlike reading a blog or watching a pre-recorded video, live streaming should be a two-way dialogue. This active engagement breaks down the barrier of distance: viewers may not actually be there, but should feel like they are.

Simple tactics like surveys, polls and Q&As all serve to keep your audience actively engaged and involved. The more compelling and engaging you make your live stream, the more likely people are to watch, share, and - most importantly - attend the live event next time.

One of the temptations with live streaming can be to just keep going. While it might seem like more is better, if you make your stream too long, your content will lose its focus and power, and people’s attention will dwindle. Once you’ve chosen exactly what you’re going to focus on for your live stream, aim to keep your segments no longer than 60 minutes. Any longer than this and you run the risk of losing the attention of your audience.

For example, if the purpose of your live stream is to allow non-attendees to see your products in action, you may want to show a technical talk or product demonstration. Stay focussed on this for this segment. If you want to then live stream an interview or expert speaker, make that a separate item on your schedule. This keeps your content clear and unambiguous and shows that you’ve thought about your audience and their interests.

How do you know if your live stream is working?

Once you’ve established who you want to reach and what you want to achieve, you need to have a way of measuring the results, and ideally, of capturing data. The analytics for your live stream will tell you how effective your content is, and what you need to modify.

Whichever streaming solution you use, it should offer standard analytics, including things like: how many viewers are watching, number of unique visitors, number of repeat visitors, country of origin and total bandwidth used. You can also link your platforms with Google Analytics in order to track traffic sources. This data is important if you’re trying to measure the success of specific websites or promotional campaigns linked to your live content.

The data you collate will help you improve your live content strategy. For example, geographical information about where your viewers are in the world can help you determine whether you should consider streaming in a different language.

All your live streams should offer viewers the opportunity to subscribe to your mailing list so they can receive updates and information about future live streams. Again, offering opportunities for your audience to engage with your content via surveys and Q&As increases the chances of them giving you their email address.

Live streaming is a big deal and it’s only going to get bigger; according to Mediakix, Facebook Live broadcasts have doubled every year since 2016. If you’re not doing it, you should be. However, in events, it’s not a simple case of picking up your smartphone and filming. It needs to be a strategic process and it needs to look and sound good. You need to know who you want to reach, what you want to achieve, and how to measure the results.

If you want to find out more about live streaming and how you can stream your events, drop us a line.

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