Is Live Streaming Video Right For Your Social Media & Content Marketing?

Live Streaming Video has been in the news since the Meerkat app was launched Spring 2015 at SXSW followed by Periscope a week later. Then in late summer 2015 we were introduced to Blab and, not to be left out of the video steaming movement, Facebook has launched Facebook Live to all users in Spring 2016.

GoPro Live Periscope Live Video

Ironically streaming video has been around for nearly a decade.

Live video streaming websites like Livestream and UStream both launched in 2007. I used UStream for a live event promotion for an airport and airline client back then.

Why is live streaming video such big news now?

The newly released apps and services are designed for mobile phone use and Pew Research reports that Smartphone use has increased dramatically. From 2011 to 2016 U.S. Smartphone ownership has nearly doubled 35% to 72%. Live video apps have also grown dramatically – more so than previous social media apps. The Salesforce blog explains Instagram reached 10 million users in one year while Periscope grew much faster. It took Periscope just 5 months to reach 10 million users. Click To Tweet

Is it time for your business to jump on live video?

Despite this enormous grown, these social apps are sill very new and the user base is small compared to established social networks. Yet I see real opportunity in using live video to supplement current social strategy to boost engagement, build awareness, and, yes, drive conversion. Let’s look at each in more detail.

Live Video Can Boost Engagement           

After years of declining viewership (ratings) the broadcast TV industry has learned the value of live video programming combined with social commenting. Nielson research has shown that live TV shows leveraging Twitter can boost TV ratings. There is something about the word “Live” that makes us want to join in and not miss out. Live combined with social media means we are participating in consumption of content within community.

Bloggers like Copyblogger recently turned their comments back on after years of having them turned off upon realizing the value of real-time content consumption and feedback in community. A smaller user base sounds like a negative, but this also means higher engagement rates. That is why Snapchat is very attractive right now. And like Snapchat’s expiration on Snaps, live also builds in a sense of urgency. Some people can’t resist tuning in for fear of missing out and crave the community and direct interaction live video offers.

Live Video Can Build Awareness

Even with the smaller user base creating content in these new social media apps will attract new audiences because the room is simply not over crowed like mature social channels.. User base demographics are also probably different from your current social media channels. You’re showing up in different social circles that are smaller, so you get noticed. Plus, participating in live video is interesting new content that will also help drive awareness in your existing crowded social media channels with dwindling organic reach.

These social network apps are new and doing all they can to attract users. Live streaming content is getting preference over other content – it could help you stand out in the content arms race. Meerkat and Periscope send out notices like tweets to let your fans know you are on live. Periscope is even giving you a Periscope channel on Apple TV. Kim Garst says people watch her scopes like a morning TV show. Facebook Live sends followers a notification when you are live and places your video in your newsfeed. Right now these notices are guaranteed to reach your audience driving up your organic reach.

Live Video Can Drive Conversion

What better way to build rapport than live interaction with a real person? Seeing it in video makes it real. From product demonstration to sharing valuable content and answering questions, live video speeds up the the know, like and trust process and can quicken time to conversion. Kim Garnst has attributed 17,000 opt-ins directly from Periscope in 9 months adding multiple 6 figures to her business.

Live video is the best way to date to bring the full power of personal sales to social media. That is not to say that you jump in with the sales pitch. You have to deliver value first, but seeing and interacting live with a real person is powerful. Research has indicated that the impact of communication is determined 7% by words, 38% by voice, and 55% by nonverbal communication. If you are not using video you could be missing out on up to 93% of communication effectiveness! Click To Tweet Live video allows you to adjust your message on the fly based on number of people coming and going, hearts you are receiving, and questions being asked.

Who are the main players in live video?


icon175x175The talk of 2015’s SXSW, Meerkat’s appeal was how easy anyone could broadcast live from their smartphone. Meerkat was first highly integrated with Twitter, until Twitter cut off many of the features in favor of Periscope. But Venturebeat tells us brands have found higher engagement on Meerkat versus Periscope. The latest Meerkat stats available say this app has 2 million users.


largeicon-e1437357187302Periscope was introduced a week after Meerkat and is owned by Twitter. Periscope is also about the broadcast of the individual, but close integration with Twitter is a bonus such as Periscope streams being able to be viewed live in a person’s Twitter stream. The latest Periscope Stats report 10 million users, 2 million daily users, and 100 million broadcasts as of January 2016.


1024x1024srBlab is about live video but emphasizes more of a group participation dynamic. Similar to Google Hangouts, Blab brings in up to four broadcasters at a time with participants able to come and go as they please. This newer entrant has grown quickly because of its ease of use and slightly different interface. Blab is also integrated with Twitter for sharing and promoting. The latest Blab stats report 2.5 million users.

Facebook Live

Facebook LiveFacebook Live is the latest addition to live streaming. This option is integrated into Facebook’s mobile app. The big news here is that now any of the over 1.5 billion Facebook users can share a live video stream as easily as making a status update. Facebook Live user stats are too early to report, but they are starting with the largest bucket of current users. Facebook does report that users are 10 times more likely to comment on a live video than on a normal one.

What content can you create for live video?

Business2business community suggests:

  • Broadcast live company events
  • Make live announcements
  • Conduct live interviews
  • Do a live video blog
  • Moderate live panel chats

Entrepreneur adds ideas such as using live video to:

  • Promote other content you have already created
  • Live stream comments and discussion to your content
  • Use live video to create content like a Q&A session

Top Rank Blog says live streaming presents further opportunity to:

  • Supplement customer research with real time feedback
  • Newsjacking that draws audience by commenting on trending topics
  • Product demos that can share more than a standard press release

Of course one last consideration before you hop on one of these live streaming channels and start broadcasting it to consider the legal aspects. Social media law expert Keery O’Shea Goregone has a great Live Streaming with MeerKat & Periscope Marketer’s Legal Checklist. Her live streaming legal check list list covers considerations in: 1. Location, 2. Privacy, 3. Intellectual Property, 4. Likeness, and 5. Contingency Plans.

Perhaps now is the time to start experimenting with live video as a strategic addition to your social media strategy. Where do you see opportunity or where have you already seen success?

Snapchat Has Grown Up: What You Need To Know As A Marketer.

From the beginning Snapchat made the news for growing very quickly and as a favorite of Teens / Millenials. Yet this rising social media star also had a negative reputation of being a network for seedy activity such as sexting. But that was so two years ago. This HuffingtonPost article gives interesting insight into how the social network shed that image. Whatever Snapchat’s past today this social network has emerged as a serious consideration for marketers.

What’s more mainstream than the Tonight Show and Presidential Candidates?
Most recent Snapchat stats:

77% of Snapchat users are over the age of 18 Click To Tweet 100 million Snapchat users are active daily Click To Tweet 7 billion videos are viewed daily on Snapchat Click To Tweet 60% of 13-34 year-olds are Snapchat users Click To Tweet Brands can see 80% Snapchat engagement rates Click To Tweet

A lot has changed since this article “Thinking About Snapchat Advertising? Snap Out of It” appeared in Advertising Age in 2014. All the numbers above are impressive, but the big one is engagement rate. Snapchat marketers have reached engagement rates of 80% compared to Facebook where a 1% engagement rate is now considered good. Cosmopolitan has reported that they get up to 3 million views a day via their Snapchat Stories. It is icing on the cake that their user demographics have matured along with this 2011 startup.

Are you still new to Snapchat and just don’t get it? Here are some Snapchat basics. Some of these are courtesy of technology reviewer Joanna Stern from The Wall Street Journal – yes that is how grown up this social channel has become.

Snapchat Basics:

  • Snaps: Photos and 10 second videos you send to one or many friends that disappear after they are viewed. Sent and received snaps are to the left of your home screen.
  • Story: A series of pictures or videos that stick around for 24 hours. Friends’ stories are found to the right of the home screen. Users can also broadcast stories for all to see.
  • Chat: One-to-one texts that disappear once you navigate away from the chat screen. Chats are found to the left of the home screen.
  • Camera: Press once on round camera button to take a photo. Hold down for video. Pinch the screen to zoom. Switch from rear to front camera by double tapping. All photos and videos are vertical.
  • Effects: Hold down on the screen and you will get a selection of special effects or “Lenses” matched to facial movements.
  • Text & Art: Tap the text icon then resize by pinching and adjust color. Tap the emoji button and add drawings with the doodling tool.
  • Filters: Swipe right to add time, temp stamp, or a location theme. Keep swiping to add multiple filters and effects.
  • Friends: Adding friends in Snapchat is not easy. You must know their Snapchat Username or have them in your contacts.
  • Snapcodes: A way to promote your Snapchat account and add friends. Share your Snapcode (like a QR code) on other channels to get friends in Snapchat by them scanning it on their phone to add.
     Grow Snapchat friends on established channels by promoting Snapcodes.
    Grow Snapchat friends on established channels by promoting Snapcodes.

Marketing on Snapchat:

One way for a brand to succeed on Snapchat is to grow friends organically and create valuable daily content. This does take a lot of effort, but may be worth it for the stats above that other social media channels many not deliver. It is also good to note that you can always screen shot or save the content you create on Snapchat and post on other channels to be repurposed beyond the 24 hour story expiration.

If you don’t have the patience or large audience base to draw from other social channels to grow organically Snapchat does offer several native advertising ways to buy your way in.

Brands can appear in the LIVE section under stories like Chobani who paid to be a part of Snapchat’s College Game Day Live story integrated in two slots in the story. Live story aggregates content from a mix of fans to highlight events happening now.

Brands can also buy their way into the DISCOVER section under stories. Discover is for publishers, but brands can partner with publishers like Cosmopolitan, CNN, BuzzFeed, or Food Network to co-create story content. Dunkin’ Donuts created a campaign with ESPN’s Snapchat Discover channel to promote the food chain to football fans with fun, playful shorts.

Adweek has reported that Snapchat is now also selling promoted snaps that appear in users recent updates feed and last for 24 hours. Brands can also purchase Selfie Filters. Both of these options are very pricey, but the network says an effort like Sponsored Selfie Filters can reach up to 16 million people a day.

 Brand Filters. Photo Illustration: Dianna McDougall; Source: Snapchat
Brand Filters. Photo Illustration: Dianna McDougall; Source: Snapchat
The Bottom Line:

Snapchat is the new frontier for most major brands. The latest report I could find says that only 1% of brands are on Snapchat. This is good for early advantage, but also means experimentation and more work. Social media monitoring and publishing software has also not caught up so all content creation must be done within the app.

Snapchat may be labor intensive, but the stats above may be worth the investment. At least until Snapchat grows crowded with us older people and marketers and everyone runs to the next big thing.