Getting Started with Live Video

Hosting an in-person event is a great way to engage with your customers and offer them a special experience. The only downside? Your reach is limited to the number of people who are able to attend and the number of people your space (and budget) can accommodate.

That’s why live video events are a game changer: You can engage with a wider audience and enable more people to experience what would otherwise be limited by time, location, and cost. Here are some things to consider before hosting your first live video event.

Make sure the event is worth watching.

There’s no shortage of video content available today, so make sure to set your event apart by creating something that your customers can’t get anywhere else. Here are some examples:

  • An interview with a celebrity, expert, or special guest: Announce the event a few days in advance and ask your followers to submit questions in the comments section. For example, The Today Show hosts Facebook Live Q&A sessions with some of their guests, including an Ask the Artist Live series with musicians after they perform in concert, like this interview with Barry Manilow.

  • Major announcements, product launches, and behind-the-scenes tours: The more exclusive the content, the more likely people are to tune in, so boost anticipation and buzz by keeping big news under wraps until you reveal it live. For example, Birchbox uses Facebook Live to introduce the beauty products that subscribers receive in their monthly shipments. You can also build a relationship with your fans by allowing them to get to know you better with tours of your business, by introducing your employees, or by explaining your creative process. On Valentine’s Day, for example, Dunkin’ Donuts gave a live tour of its test kitchen.

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  • Training sessions, classes, and tutorials: Use live video to offer your fans a valuable experience free, like a crafting session, cooking lesson, or workout. For example, Brooks Running broadcasted its Fall 2017 media preview event on Facebook Live, which included a session with trainer Kira Stokes, enabling followers to work out remotely.

  • Fun, one-off happenings: Not every video event has to be part of an overarching strategy. You can also use video to broadcast one-night-only events or to try out quirky ideas. In 2015, Hearst magazines hosted a “Bedtime Stories” event where each title did a simultaneous broadcast on Periscope. The event included everything from a puppy revealing the new cover of Seventeen to a shirtless man cuddling a kitten and reading Goodnight Moon to the Cosmopolitan audience.

Plan, plan, plan.

Part of the appeal of live streaming video is that, unlike much of what you see on social media, it’s not edited, retouched, or overproduced. So, while you don’t need to hire an expensive video production crew (you can do this with just you and your phone), you still need to plan.

Here are some questions you should answer before you go live:

  • What platform will you use? Choose a medium based on the social media outlet that your audience engages with most frequently. Facebook Live is the choice for most brands, but there’s also YouTube Live, Periscope, and Instagram (where the videos disappear once they’re over, so keep that in mind).

  • What equipment do I need? Once you have a platform, think about the equipment you need to broadcast. With Facebook Live, you can go live directly from your phone or tablet, but you might think about buying or making a stand or tripod as well (even if you have someone helping you with the recording).

  • When will you go live? With whatever platform you’re using, dig in to your data to see when your followers are on the platform and engaging with content. Base your schedule on the day and time you can get the most eyes on your video.

  • Is your video part of a series? If your video is part of a series (or if you think it could be at some point), you want to make sure that you keep some things consistent from video to video. So put thought into who is hosting the video and what the format is.

  • What is the format? You don’t need a script to do a live video. In fact, trying to read from a script would probably make for a pretty stiff and unengaging video. But it’s helpful to have a format or an outline written down ahead of time. You may even schedule out how long each piece of the video should take.

Promote your event.

The biggest indicator of your live video event’s success is, of course, getting people to watch it. So you need to promote your video.

In the days leading up to the event, publish posts on your social channels announcing the video and reminding your followers about it. Remember to think about calls to action in your social posts. “Tune in to watch the video” should be a no-brainer. But if you want people to participate in your video, think about a CTA that asks them to submit questions. You might also ask them to tag their friends or share the video to increase your audience.

You might consider buying ads or sponsoring a post on the social media outlet where you’re broadcasting the event. And if you’re planning to stream a larger event or one with special guests, think about inviting social media influencers to spread the word to their followers, too.

Outside of social media, think about sending out an announcement to your current customers through your email marketing system. You could follow up with reminders about the video by including it in other email you send regularly, like a newsletter.

Measure your impact.

The way you measure the success of your live video event depends, in part, on the platform that you use. Of course, you should be looking at total views or viewers. But think about other metrics that may be available on your platform and signal engagement from your audience. Can you see average time of viewing, for example? Or can you see how many comments or reactions your video gets?

Reuse video when possible.

The best part of many live video platforms is that after the event you have a piece of content for your library. To get the most out of your hard work, try to use your video (if it exists after broadcast) in other campaigns. For example, you can send out the video in an email after the fact.

Live video can be a really exciting and engaging way to talk to your customers (or potential customers). It’s one of the hot marketing ideas that we’ve highlighted this year — take a look at the others.