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Why brands should start live streaming

by on 24th June 2016

My favorite ad campaign of 2015 lasted less than 72 hours.

Mr Robot

To promote their new television program, Mr. Robot, USA Network launched a first-of- its-kind promotional event between June 18–20. They used Twitch, a live streaming platform with more 35 million monthly users, which is primarily used for video game streaming.

The ad campaign resulted in over 1.5 million views, 309,000 email entries, 17,000 max concurrents, 63,300 people tweeting @whoismrrobot, and more than 8.5 million minutes of video watched. Oh, and they earned a Shorty Award for Best Live Streamed Contest or Promotion.

All from only 17 hours of live streaming, over the course of three days.

I’ll leave how and why this campaign was so successful for another post, but suffice it to say that live streaming is one rising trend that some brands are putting to amazing use. Not just on Twitch, either; services like Meerkat and Periscope have made it easy for brands to start live streaming, and appeal to a wide net of different users and demographics.

Why Live Stream?

Live streaming is messy. There are no do-overs and no editing. You might mess up your script or a product demo might go awry. Worse, your feed might cut out, you might get an unwanted reaction from a live participant, or your comment feed might suddenly feature a string of expletives.

Why even bother? Well, two reasons:

1) Live streaming = brand authenticity

If you can’t be there in person, there’s nothing like an unedited live stream to make an event or product demo feel real. It resonates especially well with millennials, who often find the raw format refreshing after being bombarded with tailored advertising day in and day out.

Also, mistakes in live streams aren’t necessarily the PR disaster they might have been in a produced ad. Technical glitches and the odd stumbling over words add a human feel to your company, as long as you can work on the fly and bounce back.

As Kara Wallace, VP or Royal Caribbean International, said, "There is an authenticity to this kind of campaign. This is going to be the future of marketing."

2) Live streaming gets your audience involved

Live streaming allows for instantaneous feedback, which keeps audience participation high… provided your content is engaging, of course. In the Mr. Robot example above, the audience would propose challenges to the team of hackers, which were then acted upon moments later.

You can also keep your audience engaged with minute-to-minute updates on the benefits you’re providing them. For example, when Southwest Airlines experienced flight delays due to a massive snowstorm, it live streamed its operation control center. Not only did the stream help humanize a brand trying its best to accommodate its customers, but it kept more than 100,000 viewers informed while they waited for the weather to clear.

How You Can Use Live Streaming to Build Your Brand

Live streaming won’t work in every situation, and it won’t be the perfect fit for every brand, but judicious use can result in some powerful PR and even advertising for your brand. Here are a few live stream topics you should consider:

  • Behind the Scenes Look
  • Breaking News
  • Interviews
  • Live Event Coverage
  • Product Demonstrations

The secret to a successful live stream lies in knowing your demographic, keeping your streams concise, and showing information that appeals to your viewers. Showcase your employees in action and prove that you’re benefiting your customers, and you’ll have a live stream worth watching.

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