A new way to connect businesses with their markets is rolling out across the Internet. Live video builds on the success of social media and content marketing. It gives businesses a whole new way to deliver valuable content to large audiences, and it does it in a way that contains both built-in urgency and a level of interaction that businesses have never enjoyed before.

It’s all very new. Instagram has only offered its version of live video since December 2016, the same month that Twitter finally merged its live video acquisition, Periscope, into its main platform. Facebook has been experimenting a little longer and currently offers more features than its rivals, including detailed stats that reveal when audiences reacted most positively. Because it has so many more users, it also tends to deliver a bigger audience than Twitter or Instagram.

Creating the content couldn’t be easier. On Facebook and Twitter, it’s simply a matter of touching an icon on an app. Instagram can even get the camera rolling with a page swipe. You then need to enter a title for the video, choose an audience from your follower lists… and you’re live.

And that’s when the magic begins. Followers get a notification telling them that someone they follow is now broadcasting. That gives live video the attention-grabbing power of telemarketing but with a call from someone they know and have chosen to hear from. Audiences will need to move quickly. Instagram doesn’t the store the broadcast at all, so if followers don’t pick up their phones and watch right away, they’ll miss the message from one of their favorite brands. While Facebook and Twitter do allow users to watch a recording of the broadcast, that playback won’t have the interaction that they can only enjoy live.

As users watch the video, they can post reactions such as “likes” and they can also write comments that broadcasters can see and address. A live video isn’t just another form of advertising and it’s more even than a kind of television show. It’s a real-time, two-way communication between a brand and its market that delivers a genuine shared experience.

It’s no surprise then that brands have been quick to experiment. Facebook dished out $50 million to publishing companies and celebrities to set a standard in live video. Buzzfeed received $3 million and used some of those funds to explode a watermelon with rubber bands. The video has generated a total of 11 million views, including more than 800,000 who watched the broadcast live at the same time. Grazia, a fashion magazine, decamped from its office in Milan to Facebook’s office in London to broadcast a week of editorial meetings and other content. As well as inviting the public to suggest story ideas, the publication broadcast a live debate about Brexit and a performance by singer Craig David. Other companies have launched weekly live workshops that show off their products, and countless personal brands have fired up their cameras and used the feature to talk directly to their customers —and to hear back from those customers in real time.

The results of those experiments are already coming in, and they’re dictating the future development of live video. Broadcasters have found that videos of between 30 and 45 minutes allow time for viewers to share the content with friends and increase audience size. Broadcasters can see the names of followers as they join the audience, giving them an opportunity to welcome them by name. Getting out of the office and showing audiences how the product is made or what’s happening at an event tends to attract bigger audiences than a direct address to camera.

The platforms too, are trying to push out more features to make the broadcasts more effective. Facebook already allows brands to grant broadcast privileges without granting other content publication privileges. We can expect to see more detailed stats on other platforms, and Facebook is also rolling out scheduling and “waiting rooms” so that broadcasts begin with audiences already in place.

It’s a whole new kind of social media marketing, and companies will quickly need to find the live content that suits their audience. Live video is a low-to-no cost method that savvy businesses and brands will quickly explore and leverage to gain new customers, and as a result, make more sales.

For a free PDF featuring a proven 8-step formula to help you succeed with your live videos, click here.


Joel Comm is a live video marketing expert who has been broadcasting live since 2008. Whether using tools such as Facebook Live, Periscope or Snapchat to broadcast a clearly defined message to a receptive audience or leveraging the power of webinar and meeting technologies such as Crowdcast, Bluejeans and Belive.tv, Joel’s tested strategies make him an in-demand speaker and consultant for brands both large and small.