There’s a lot happening on the video live-streaming front currently. So much so I think you can safely say it will build upon last year’s hype to become an entrenched bona fide social media trend in 2016.
Let’s quickly recap on what technologies are out there currently, then we’ll look at how businesses and organisations can use live-streaming to reach and connect with their audience.
- Meerkat – Meerkat is a mobile app that allows users to broadcast video live-streaming through their smartphone or tablet device. The app ignited the live-streaming hype when it launched at SXSW last year. It was quickly embraced by digital early adopters the world over before being ‘cut off at the knees’ by an announcement by Twitter it was about to launch its own video live-streaming app, similar to Meerkat.
- Periscope – Twitter’s app is called Periscope and it continues to power along as the mobile live streaming video app of choice for many (Periscope now has 10 million users … and they’re watching 40 years’ worth of streams a day); Periscope replays ( known as ‘scopes’) are only available for 24 hours after the live stream (although you can use a service such as Katch to archive your broadcast efforts). The fact Periscope is part of the Twitter ‘family’ gives it a bit of heft in live-streaming stakes.
- MeVee -MeVee bills itself as ‘the live streaming platform that captures the can’t-miss moments’. It was launched last week at the big Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and already has a biz of buzz behind it. Where MeVee differs from its predecessor streaming apps is that it archives your streamed videos (unless you delete them). Also, according to this Wall Street Journal article, people can embed MeVee streams on blogs and other websites, and viewers don’t have to download the app to consume the live content (I embedded one of my streams in this blog post but it was auto-play and you couldn’t turn it off, which I think is something that needs addressing). And finally, (qualified) active users of the platform can join MeVee’s ‘Partner Program’ and receive a cut of revenue generated through advertising. I guess the goal here is to attract the influencers and ‘power streamers’ into using the app and, hopefully, bringing their audience across from wherever they are broadcasting currently. Kind of makes sense when you think about it.
This is me, broadcasting from MeVee. CLICK HERE TO WATCH
- Blab – Blab is a bit of a different beast compared to the other apps mentioned above, but still falls into the the same category for obvious reasons: It’s an app (although can also be recorded via desktop) and it streams live video. However, Blab has extra ‘ooomph’ in my book, with its social chat bar and Twitter stream (down the left side when viewed on a web browser. Blab has been described as a cross between Google Hangouts and Periscope; I’ve also heard it described thus – if Periscope is the ‘main event’, then Blab is the ‘after party’. Put another way, Periscope, Meerkat and MeVee are great for recording events as well as individual people riffing solo in front of the smartphone camera. Blab, however, is very conversation based – up to four people at a time chatting about a particular topic, with viewers contributing to the conversation in the chat bar. Less out and about, more staged in fixed locations (i.e. many participants are sitting behind their computer at home or their office while part of the Blab). Further reading: Why your brand needs to get out there and start Blabbing!
- Facebook Mentions – Facebook tends not to be the innovator; they sit back and see what’s happening out there in the big, bad social world and then either buy an emerging app (i.e. Instagram), or develop the functionality internally (Facebook Messenger). Facebook Mentions “isn’t available to everyone right now” according to Facebook. But the app is available for high-profile verified accounts (or as Facebook puts it: “A better way for actors, athletes, journalists and other public figures to stay in touch with their followers and the people and topics they care about. Go Live Tell your story as it happens with live video. Make an announcement, start a Q&A or just show your followers what’s happening“). Here are Facebook’s tips for celebrities considering using the platform’s live functionality. Eventually Facebook will open up Mentions (or Live, I’m not sure they know what they call it yet) for us mere mortals and it will probably kill off one or more of the apps above.
BOTTOM LINE: I like what I see with MeVee (although I’ve had a few bandwidth issues with it; it’s currently in public beta so no doubt these will be fixed in due course) and I also like the possibilities afforded by Blab. However, when Facebook decides to wade in big-time, look out!
This is Periscope in action! CLICK HERE TO WATCH
How your business can get the edge with video live-streaming
Okay, with the preliminaries out of the way, why should your business or nonprofit organisation experiment with live video streaming? Or if you’re an aspiring thought leader who runs a personal brand-based business, if marketplace visibility is important for commercial outcomes, how can video live-streaming help your cause?
Here are six ways businesses and organisations can use video live-streaming effectively:
1. Take people behind the scenes of your organisation
- Let’s see the inner workings of your organisation. Introduce your team, the people who sit in the cubicle and deal with the public or who those who are responsible for making the ‘cogs of the machine’ turn; let’s see the sparkle in their eyes, the enthusiasm in their voice.
- Remember: People do business with people, not logos. The future belongs to those companies that can create connection (and build relationships) with members of the public, from both a customer and advocacy perspective.
2. Demonstrate knowledge and expertise
- Get your internal experts out from behind their desk and in front of the smartphone!
- Encourage them to riff on topics relevant to your industry and business: What are some issues or pain-points people have that you can provide advice on? Or go a step deeper – increase the profile of your internal thought leaders: Get them to challenge people with provocative ideas or opinions!
3. Provide product demonstrations
- Obviously more suited to businesses such as retail – video live-streaming provides a brilliant opportunity to literally talk about a product, not in a cheap promotional way but rather educate people on its finer points.
- Not so much product demonstration but along similar lines: A fashion house could give viewers a sneak preview of its latest shipment of merchandise, a bookstore owner could chat about some new releases just in, or a travel agent could discuss some new holiday packages they’ve just put together.
4. Launch campaigns or make announcements
- Has your brand just launched a new campaign? Talk about it on Periscope or Blab! This is especially relevant for nonprofit organisations that are about to launch a new fundraising program, for example, or maybe a public think-tank or professional association has just announced it is going to campaign on some emerging issue.
- Has your firm just released some new research findings or published a report on a particular trend or issue? Record a live stream with your key spokespeople!
5. Broadcast from the events you run
- Do you organise events such as educational breakfasts or client seminars? Record the speakers live, or the panel discussion if you have one. Open up the conversation that’s taking place in the room in real time.
- If your events are more of an exclusive nature, record some vox pops early in proceedings or brief snatches of video throughout day to tease the audience (and in doing so up people’s levels of FOMO!).
6. Live Q&As
- These Q&As really could be anything relevant about your business (as long as you’re addressing questions people frequently ask).
- This works particularly well for Blab – you can have up to four experts on the broadcast not just answering questions but also broadening the answers into a deeper conversation where it makes sense to do so. Imagine some legislation has just been enacted that will have a profound impact on your industry – get your relevant subject matter experts out there discussing the issue live, in public, in real time! Encouraging questions from viewers will only enhance the levels of engagement.
Why do I like video live-streaming?
I think the fact it’s live – raw, authentic, unvarnished and unedited – makes video streaming a powerful form of human communication. I know the rawness of live streaming will scare people, especially those in marketing and communications who are used to controlling the message, but I think we need to be overcoming such roadblocks in our organisational communications. We’re now in 2016. Social media has been around for a good eight to 10 years and really should be wholeheartedly embraced, not something to be feared.
And for those who believe people don’t like watching video that’s not slickly produced, think again! There’s ample proof online to show that unpolished video, whether it’s live or recorded, is massively popular with your everyday punter.
Will video live-streaming take over from some of the other powerful communication methods we’re seeing out there (i.e. Facebook advertising, blogging or podcasting, webinars, live events, email or YouTube video)? Probably not. I think live-streaming is an excellent adjunct to those activities in that it adds a powerful real-time human dimension to an organisation’s marketing and therefore a great way to differentiate your brand from the competition, but I’m not convinced it’s the ‘silver bullet’ people are looking for (indeed, I don’t believe such silver bullets exist in today’s fragmented micro-channel world).
What should you do?
Experiment. Don’t over-think or over-plan the medium otherwise nothing will ever happen. Start small to gain your confidence. Integrate with your other social activities, especially Twitter. If you use Blab or MeVee (or Periscope via Katch-me) you’re in a position to embed the resultant video into your blog if it makes sense to do so,
Think about how can you use it to humanise your organisation, to get your expertise (and your experts!) into the public domain; how you can use it to educate and inform people in a non-promotional way; how you can leverage the tools to build and reinforce your (personal or business) brand’s thought leadership in the marketplace?
In the words of Dr Nike: Just do it!
P.S. My preferred apps
If you haven’t already guessed from what I’ve written above, I’m leaning towards Blab and MeVee.
Periscope’s not bad but the fact your broadcasts, or ‘scopes’, disappear after 24 hours isn’t great when you’re trying yo build a body of work over time (although Katch.me is a solution here).
Obviously Facebook isn’t much chop unless you’re a verified user at this stage, but this situation will undoubtedly change and when it does, video live-streaming will leave the somewhat fringes of social media and explode into mainstream consciousness.