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Live video: How and why it can enhance your brand communications

Lizi Legge, Social Media Executive

The author

Lizi Legge

Social Media Executive

On the back of Facebook Live’s extraordinary growth in 2016, the rest of the big social media players are now after a slice of the action.

Last month, YouTube expanded its live video offering by announcing the roll-out of mobile broadcasting through its smartphone app to users with 10,000 subscribers or more (all users will have access mobile streaming at some point this year). This follows on the back of Twitter and Instagram who in December and January respectively announced live video features for users through their own mobile apps.

So as the appetite for ‘live social’ continues to grow, how can brands utilise the platform to shape how they talk to their audiences? Here are a few ways we think it could benefit your brand communications:

Live video brings your brand and customers closer together

The true “instant-ness” of live video promotes the feeling of you really talking and interacting with your brand’s audience, with much more intimacy than ever before. Facebook Live’s chat feature enables you to have conversations directly with your audience in real-time, enabling you to develop more genuine relationships with them.

It can be an instant press conference for your brand

With relatively low levels of effort and planning required, live social can be an effective platform for your latest product unveiling or big business announcement. The most devoted fans of your brand will feel rewarded for being the first to know of your news and, with well-executed promotion beforehand, can build up some excitement about your live event to persuade potential viewers to join in.

New channel equals new content ideas

As is the beauty of any new channel, live social allows you to test out a range of content ideas that you might not have thought to try as a part of your digital marketing activity. Remember to start simple at first to work out which ideas get the best response from your audience.

As a bit of inspiration, “behind-the-scenes” live streams seem to be a popular trend for all manners of industries. We really like the unique insight the BBC offered last year as it took its Facebook audience on a tour of the News at Six studio as it went live on the air. It might not be the most creative use of live video out there but, as the incoming comments show, viewers were hooked and engaged throughout.

Getting started

Live video streaming used to require a lot of technical expertise and investment to get off the ground, only accessible to large brands or events with a big budget at their disposal. The introduction of Twitter’s Periscope app in 2015, followed by Facebook Live last year, gives anyone with a smartphone in his or her pocket the ability to start broadcasting video to the masses instantly, without paying a penny for the privilege.

Smartphone cameras are more than adequate for filming live video nowadays, but there are two additional items we’d recommend if you have the budget:

Firstly, find an affordable tripod and a phone mount for it. Unless your live video requires you to be on your feet, using a tripod will set your footage apart from the rest of the arm-length “shaky-cam” broadcasts that form the majority of live content you will find online. Nine times out of ten this does not make for pleasurable viewing (even if it is a great workout for your selfie arm). Working hands-free from the camera also enables you to try different video formats without having to rope someone in to hold the camera for you.

Secondly, an external microphone for your phone will go a long way in helping to ensure you’re heard as well as you’re seen. The microphone in your smartphone is fine when you are alone in a quiet room, but once multiple people or background noise enter the scene, they can be notoriously bad at picking up the sounds you want to be heard. A decent external mic will give more sound clarity in these situations, and will enable you to be further away from the camera when speaking.

Once you are ready, it is essential that you do a visual and audio check to pre-empt any lighting or noise issues before you go live. There is nothing worse than putting in the time to plan a great piece of live content that your audience can’t enjoy because of avoidable technical hiccups.

Our final piece of advice is not to give up on live social straight away if your initial ideas are not instant successes. As an evolving channel, everyone is still in the stage of figuring out the formula of content that works for them. So long as you stay on brand with your ideas, you will quickly filter out what works and what doesn’t with your audience.