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    I have a healthy amount of natural skepticism. Maybe it’s a Midwestern trait, but I follow the advice of not being the first to embrace something or the last to let it go. And, in an industry swirling with fads, that usually saves me a bunch of time and storage space on my phone (I don’t care what there’s an app for unless I need to actually do that thing).

    When a trend emerges that’s more than a passing fad, then, it’s time for even the Chicagoan to take a closer look. Part of my skepticism of live video was the flurry of platforms that sprang up (and then quickly died down) in 2015–2016. I wanted to see who would survive the boom-and-bust of competitors to emerge as an industry standard.

    There are still dozens, if not scores, of live video streaming platforms available, but at this point for brand outreach, we can pretty confidently focus on these key players: Facebook Live, YouTube Live, Instagram Live, and Periscope (Twitter). If you’re connecting with your audience on LinkedIn, I’ve read these updates about a platform’s native video (LinkedIn blog & Live Mint), but I haven’t actually seen it yet on the site or app.

    My recommendation would be to start with the live video element of whichever channel(s) you’re currently already active on, rather than trying to build a presence on a new channel just for the sake of occasional live streams.


    Sidebar: What Ever Happened to Periscope and Meerkat?

    You may remember this post from our fearless pioneer, Ian, way back in 2015. I was curious enough to follow up. Periscope has had some bumps. But with support from Twitter, it now has analytics and videos play within Twitter Moments. And a no-love-lost RIP to Meerkat.

    Should I with the Live Video?

    My initial thought was that live video made more sense for a B2C brand than a B2B. One of the most natural uses of live video is product demonstrations, which is an obvious fit for a cosmetics company or other consumer brand. Even when the “brand” is a singer-songwriter doing a Q&A with their fans, the direct reach of live video is an obvious appeal.

    But there’s way more to live video than I’d first considered, and now I’m on board with the idea that if you’re a little creative and have a story to tell, live video can make sense for any brand’s content marketing efforts.

    Here are some uses for a live video I’ve found in my research:

    • Make company announcements, or broadcast company meetings where decisions are being made (live debates)
    • Q&As and conversations with your audience, or even your audience’s end users
    • Interviews with influencers to showcase thought leadership
    • An honest view of the culture (aka, Dogs & Donuts!)
    • Fund-raising
    • Town-hall meetings, as suggested by a friend in local government

    Is It Worth It?

    This post has an infographic—with citations (be still, my heart!)—to illustrate the business value of live video for brands. It goes on to say that videos have a high engagement rate and because of this, users are more likely to convert after watching the video. There may be challenges across channels in determining solid analytics to prove ROI, so you’ll have to consider more factors in making a business case for video.

    There are some channel-specific tips for how to get and interpret analytics for live stream video.

    How Should I Integrate Live Video? (aka, Best Practices Recommendations)

    This post, conveniently published while I was researching, has a nice step-by-step approach to planning, preparing, and executing your live stream. Additional resources with guidelines to successfully implementing live video are included below in a reference list.

    Incorporate video planning into your regular content calendar/editorial calendar so that all of your efforts are coordinated, across channels and media. When you have a product launch scheduled and a campaign asset kit release, plan for a live video where your VP of Product Development announces the release and points users to the new landing page. If you’re publishing blog posts around industry trends for the new year, schedule a live stream tour of your office to introduce your blog authors (ahem, Joe…).

    Final Thoughts

    If you’re investing in content marketing and you care about keeping up with trends—or if you want to use yourself as a case study before recommending a live video to a client—it’s worth allocating a few hours of effort for a test run.

    If you’re not convinced yet, that’s okay too. Not every target audience is going to be compelled to action by video, so to some extent you have to trust what you know about your market.

    It’s also not just an age breakdown; we can’t say “millennials will be loyal if your brand live streams” and “old buyers don’t like video.” Industry plays a role, as well. For example, my selection of winter tires will not be swayed by which brand has really engaging social content—it’s a pragmatic choice based solely on what’s on sale at Les Schwab. But if I’m buying hiking boots, I’d love to see videos of the boots in action and a live video from a team member showing how to lace them up correctly.

    Dig into some research, and have fun!

    Resources for further reading

    Who: Some live video platforms currently on the market

    • Bambuser
    • BlogTV
    • Brightcove
    • DaCast
    • Facebook Live
    • Fixwagon
    • Google Hangouts
    • Justin.TV
    • Livestream
    • Qik
    • Stickam
    • Twitch
    • Vokle
    • Wowza
    • YouTube Capture
    • YouTube Live

    What: Live video as a growing trend in marketing


    Why: Value of live video


    How: Best practices for live video