The Importance of Live Streaming Video in 2017

Excuse me while I pick myself up off the floor from laughing my guts out. If you haven’t seen Candace Payne’s Facebook Live video of her putting on a Chewbacca mask and laughing herself silly, you’ve been missing out on some worthy side aches. To date, her video has racked up an astonishing 164 million views, the most in the history of social media live video.

But maybe at this point you’re thinking, Yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s just a phase until the next cool thing comes out. Give it a year and no one’s going to care whether your video is live or not.

If this is you, think again.

The Users Have Spoken

On a global scale, traffic from online videos will constitute over 80% of all consumer internet traffic by 2020. U.S. spending alone on both mobile and desktop video advertising reached nearly $10.3 billion in 2016, more than a 23% increase than 2015.

By 2019, the total U.S. digital video advertising spend is projected to eclipse $14 billion -  with nearly 50% of that figure ($6.86 billion) being attributed to mobile video.

Consider how large a part live video will play in this game of global video dominance.

40% of young users say they are watching live forms of video on their smartphone more frequently than they were a year ago. Their preferences offer lush opportunity for brands. 

Most popular of all are broadcasts of funny/entertaining content, which over half of mobile users aged 16-34 say they are interested in watching. Following close behind are live broadcasts of breaking news stories on just over 40% and music concerts at 38%. Smaller but still important groups express interest in watching videos broadcast by brands (26%), celebrities (21%) or vloggers (19%).

Move Over, Facebook

It’s no secret that live video has mostly been in large part, Facebook’s territory. While there’s no shortage of apps that allow for live broadcasting, so far Facebook has the one-touch functionality, constant presence and massive audience that makes its live video so powerful. 

Looks like Zuckerberg’s going to be forced to share space in the market soon, though. Snapchat is preparing to branch out into live video and Twitter’s acquisition of the live video app, Periscope, is nothing short of necessary for the platform.

“Expect Twitter to reinvent Periscope as Twitter Live and be fully integrated into the app,” stated Joel Comm. “In 2017, we’re going to be shooting live video for different audiences across all the main social platforms.”

Neal Mohan, YouTube's chief product officer, explained that the company is going to invest in ways to more deeply engage its audience. It will continue pumping money into its original-content channel - YouTube Red - but with Facebook Live to contend with, it will focus on creating live video interfaces for its own users as well as its global objective to make all forms of YouTube accessible in countries where reliable Internet connectivity isn’t reliable.

This means live video will be everywhere in 2017 and that one of the smartest things you can do for your business is learn how to capitalize on its benefits.

The Humanity Driving Live Video Popularity

Just like the viewers of live national TV are significantly more than the viewers of anything prerecorded, from shows to news to sports and everything in between, so live video has arisen a giant in social media, making prerecorded video an insignificant midget in comparison. Let’s look at why.

According to The Social Media Examiner, these distinct human behaviors drive the engagement behind high live video numbers:

Curiosity: Human beings are curious by nature and eager to discover new things. Live streaming shows the audience content that they may not otherwise see.

Desire for recognition: Being recognized is important to many people. Viewers of live streams are not anonymous, and the broadcaster can call individuals by name (or user ID).

Sense of belonging: Due to their limited duration, live streaming videos usually don’t get thousands of viewers simultaneously. Seeing the number (and IDs) of users subscribed to a stream makes viewers feel connected to a group.

Control: Live streaming allows users to interact and be part of the show. Their comments can affect the broadcast, and the broadcaster may respond to them.

Exclusivity: The content of a live streaming video is unique in that only those connected can interact with it.

Sense of Urgency: I’m adding this one to the list because I think it plays a huge part. People take action on things they know have a short duration, just like with sales. Even though many of the platforms allow the live video to be posted and replayed, a sense of urgency permeates the technology. Viewers know they won’t be able to be a part of the video unless they watch it now.

Most Effective Ways to Use Live Video

With any of the following ways, the most important element is quality, not quantity. It’s not about live streaming every single thing happening in your business. In fact, that could turn off some otherwise happily-engaged viewers. It’s about providing high-quality content to your viewer and giving them high-value in return for tuning into your live video.

The best live video gurus tell stories, talk with their audience, and connect with pain or pleasure, joy or sadness, and by doing so provoke similar feelings within their audience.

Essentially the reason people will return to these live video broadcasters again and again is to receive the same amount of emotional connection again. We see this recurring pattern in the reasons behind why people become loyal clients or customers of businesses or service providers. Give your viewer enough of what they want, and they will reward you with watching your videos.

Go Backstage

The Tonight Show uses Facebook Live to show behind-the-scenes footage of the show. Target has used it to give fans sneak peeks of its design partnerships and promote fashion week. Among other fashion giants, DKNY and Marc Jacobs used it to preview its 2016 line. The Madden video games series had their marketing team use live video to get behind-the-scenes coverage of players and share it with fans. Going backstage with your viewers feeds their craving for exclusivity. 

Live Events

Live events that you can bring your audience in on include presentations, talks, conferences, press conferences, performances, concerts, tours, and demos. Taco Bell has used it to hold fun mock press conferences, U2 and Spotify have used it to stream live musical performances and GE used live-videoing drones to give guided tours through remote facilities as a part of #Droneweek. Businesses are continually becoming more creative as to how they can create events for their viewers, so brainstorm with your team and see what kind of innovative ideas your business can bring to the table.

Funny Videos

The millennial-adored, hilarious BuzzFeed decided to try out Facebook Live with a video purely for their fans' entertainment. Two BuzzFeeders explored how many rubber bands it takes to explode a watermelon, which lasted about 45 minutes. At the time, more people tuned in to watch the stream than any other live video on Facebook, reaching over 800,000 viewers at its peak. The video now has over 10 million views while continuing to rack up views and direct traffic to BuzzFeed.

Host a Q&A

Social media is perfect for Q&A sessions because your viewers can ask questions, which gives you the opportunity to satisfy their curiosity, but you can also collect insight on why they aren’t purchasing your product/service or what problems they’re experiencing with it. For additional traction and the added benefit of expanding your viewer count, you can also hold interviews with prominent influencers or brands with complimentary brands/services. This helps increase your business’s visibility, credibility and feed your viewers’ need for quality content.

If you’re tempted to feel overwhelmed at this point, take a deep breath. Remember the most important thing is quality, not quantity. The future of live video success belongs to those who can connect with audiences via conversation and emotional connection.

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