The Diversity of Live Streaming
When it comes to live streaming, there are very few hard and fast rules. What content works best and how long a stream should be, for example, are highly dependent on the purpose of the live video itself. The main reason for this is the sheer versatility of live video, which means that many different types of organisations can benefit from its use.
Online video viewing has increased vastly in the last four years. Video now accounts for 50% of all mobile data consumed using Facebook and that is expected to rise to 75% in 4 years. This article explores some of the myriad of ways live streaming can be used, for a wide range of organisations.
Live vs Recorded
Pre-recorded video can be a highly valuable asset but simply cannot be as interactive as live.
This interactivity or immediacy means that live videos not only experience a surge in traffic at the point of being live but usually also continue to garner views after they go on-demand.
In 2016, a Buzzfeed video featuring an exploding watermelon and rubber bands (I’ll let you watch that one yourself) had 800,000 real-time viewers when the live stream ended, but has attracted an extra ten million in the 21 months since. This can be attributed to the social hype surrounding the live stream which resulted in an incredible amount of sharing and discussion on social media.
This is not to say that all video should be live, it still needs a substantial reason to be so.
Live video’s capability for interactivity has always lent itself to the marketing sector, ever since it first came into the mainstream. This is the area where we have seen the most technically advanced use of live streaming as there is always a drive to innovate. Live streaming also offers a solid ROI, based on a range of factors such as increasing product sales and user engagement, and so it has become much easier for brands to understand and justify using the medium.
Even within the marketing sector, there are many different formats of live streaming being effectively used to drive brand engagement. Product demonstrations, for example, may seem somewhat hackneyed but the format can be far subtler than you may first imagine.
Last year, Groovy Gecko live streamed a pancake-making masterclass on Shrove Tuesday, for a well-known supermarket featuring its products. The ability to ask questions and vote for what was cooked and what ingredients were used delivered a large, highly engaged audience. Live video is effective for launching a new product or announcing important information because the user knows the information is timely and there is an impetus to be the first to hear it. However, the live must add value. Many brands think that their audience need to see an announcement live but many fail to ask the question ‘Why would I watch this live?’ If the answer is ‘I don’t know’ then the brand must think about how to make the piece more interactive, or it may be more worthwhile reverting to simply sharing a more carefully crafted on-demand video.
Live video will always be more effective than pre-recorded for marketing purposes when used correctly. This comes down to the level of interactivity offered by live video, which gives the viewer the opportunity to change the course of the live stream, thus there is a bigger incentive to comment, ask questions, like or share.
Pre-recorded video can also be seen as unauthentic, too ‘on message’ or staged, unlike live video which is more spontaneous and unmediated, or can certainly feel that way. Live video shrinks the distance between brands and their audiences, encouraging stronger relationships through the ability to engage more directly.
Activism and Charity work
In 2017, Facebook announced support for a ‘donate’ button for Facebook Live, allowing viewers to donate as they watched in the US. Since then, Facebook has been used as a platform to raise millions of dollars for charities. The introduction of a ‘donate’ button was inevitable, given how effective live video is for charities and how successful live streams have been. Since September 2017 it has been available in a number of European countries.
Part of this success stems from the fact that social media provides organisations with access to an audience of billions. Not to mention that live video can be incredibly emotive. Many of the not-for-profit live streams handled by Groovy Gecko have featured celebrities, and this has proven to be highly effective at growing audience reach.
A live Q&A with the stars of the Fantastic Beasts franchise for J. K. Rowling’s Children’s charity Lumos reached views totalling a quarter of the page’s total ‘likes’. The purpose of the stream was to launch a new fundraising campaign, and all donors were automatically entered into a prize draw. Fans were also given the opportunity to submit questions relating to Lumos’ work via a series of teaser posts on social media channels, which were then answered live.
Using a similar format, UNICEF celebrated World Children’s Day with a live Q&A featuring Goodwill Ambassador David Beckham. With over 2.1 million views at the time of writing, it’s probable that many of these viewers were made aware of the stream because of the comments made by their Facebook ‘friends’, which would appear on their newsfeed, or simply because they are fans of David Beckham. Groovy Gecko’s work on live streams for charities has shown that even a low level of viewers produces a high level of donations.
Corporate live streaming has always been a staple of the industry for AGMs and big announcements. Through live streaming, an organisation can reach a large number of people, potentially in global offices, all at one time. The live video can also be put ‘on-demand’ after streaming, so it can be watched multiple times after the event and become an important resource for staff and customers.
It can be much cheaper to broadcast internal events to all staff at one time, rather than paying for transport, or holding duplicate meetings in several offices. The potential for training workshops, for example, where the live element is coupled with interactivity and two-way communication is only just beginning to be realised. Corporate live streaming can actually build healthier company cultures because it is more inclusive and allows staff all over the world to interact. In fact, Facebook’s new collaborative platform for organisations, Workplace, includes live streaming functionality, and we have already seen large, multi-national corporations introduce the platform, with great success.
On the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) Website, fans of live music need only check the live streaming calendar to find out when the next concert is due to go live. On the same page, viewers can watch past live streams at their own leisure. Live streaming of events is a growing market, and one which is proving highly successful, especially for events which tend to be oversubscribed. Live video offers people access to events which they otherwise would not be able to attend, and thanks to additional formats like 360-degree video, it can be as good as being there.
Last year, Groovy Gecko streamed a particularly complex experience from Goodwood Festival of Speed, featuring a 2D live stream embedded within another 360-degree live stream playing in a single player in YouTube and Facebook. The mixture of formats allowed us to utilise existing HD assets while also delivering the best 360 experience allowing viewers to experience a driver’s eye view in an F1 car.
Every day, 100,000 people attended the real-world event, but each of the live streams was viewed by over four times as many people, with one live stream reaching 517,000 views. Some may say, why give away access to an event for free? But statistics show that 67% of viewers are more likely to buy a ticket to a similar event after watching a live video and many such events are already sold out.
Live video can be used in so many different ways that almost all types of organisations are trying to work out how they can best utilise it and the amount of value it can deliver. One of the fundamental questions organisations have to answer is ‘What should their video content strategy be?’ which not only helps define what content should be live and what should be on-demand, but should also look at the value for the audience.
With so many organisations making a success of live, those organisations taking their first steps must ensure it is being done for the right reasons and will offer the audience multiple reasons to tune in.
You can download the Digital Doughnut and Groovy Gecko Knowledge guide to social video streaming here.