I thought I'd kick off my return from parental leave with some thoughts on the evolution of visual communication online, in particular the explosion of live video streaming.
Usually a trend is born in the magic intersection of new technology and emerging user behaviour. Live streaming is the love child of access to high-capacity mobile broadband and the visual communication trend.
I started talking about the upcoming dominance of the visual communication trend around 3-4 years ago when we saw a huge growth of pictures and video shared online. Visual social networks have been thriving ever since with Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube as the most prominent examples.
Shortly after, live video streaming was getting more and more popular with for example apps such as Meerkat (rest in peace) and Periscope (although Swedish Bambuser was way ahead of them). Social network giants YouTube and Facebook followed suit and launched live video features and in particular Facebook are pushing them heavily today.
What excites me about live streaming it that it makes video truly social, as viewers can comment and follow an event in real time, as opposed to traditionally just being able to “share” video content.
However, it's not until now you see brands and organizations use this technology in a compelling way. I want to share two examples that I came across recently that I think are great examples of how live video can help you connect with your audience in new ways.
Live Ice Cream Tasting - What's Not To Like?
First example is popular Swedish ice cream brand Sia Glass. They did a very cute and simple live stream from their office to bring attention to their new ice cream flavors for 2017. The setting is very simple, two armchairs and a local food celebrity trying out the new flavors and chatting with the ice cream brands representative. You may think the setting is almost too simple, but I like the no-fuss approach. It's signals accessibility and likability, more importantly you get a crazy craving for ice cream!
Live Q&A With ACLU
On a more serious note, the second example is from American human rights organization ACLU. They used a live broadcast as a Q&A with one of their lawyers, answering questions about immigrants' rights. Viewers can post questions directly in the comments and get a response in real time.
Sending live video on Facebook is technically uncomplicated, but I think many organizations and brands are a bit scared about how to use this mode of communication. Being live is very unapologetic. You cannot edit, any mistake is instantly in front of everyone's eyes.
I believe this fear of messing up is very similar to the fear that brands had with the birth of social media. Remember the discussion of the implications of clients being able to post anything about your products or services on your Facebook page? Well, most brands managed to get past that fear, and they need to get over the fear of live broadcast too. It's too compelling to watch and it's simply too useful to be ignored. Here are three tips to get started:
1. Think Reality TV Aesthetics
As demonstrated by the examples above, don't fret about building a high-end TV studio. Make use of the environment that you're in. The sense of authenticity is more important than having a perfect setting.
2. Learn From Live Broadcasting Pros
Remember that streaming live is different from just posting a video. You need to present the subject of your stream continuously, as viewers are joining the show at different locations in time. If you ever did live TV or radio you know what I'm talking about - especially sport reporters excel at this. They elegantly remind the audience what game they just started to watch, what the current score is, what just happened, throughout the broadcast.
3. Give the Audience a While to “Tune In”
Don't get straight to the point! At least in the case of Facebook you can see how viewers often start watching after a while as the first viewers help to gradually spread the content by sharing the live video stream in their feeds. So you need some kind of a warm up as your audience is tuning in. Perhaps chat casually with your guests, and prepare the viewers for what will happen in a few minutes. You don't need to go on forever, but it can prevent that the bulk of viewers do not discover and join the live content when the best part has already passed. (When the live show is over, it's a bit of a different story as the content is then accessible as a regular video.)
So what are you waiting for? Get out there and start to experiment with how you can connect with your audience you using live video streaming.