By now you have probably heard of the latest social-media platforms taking the world by storm: Meerkat and Periscope. These apps allow users to stream videos from their smartphone directly to Twitter. They also allow for real-time comments from viewers. I have noticed two main reactions to the new live streaming apps.
The first -- usually from public speakers, authors, and aspiring TV personalities -- is almost uncontainable excitement. Now they can broadcast their message to the world and interact with their followers in real time. They see the power in what some are calling the next YouTube. This is their moment to be early adopters, to dominate a platform, and they are determined to seize it.
The second reaction is more of a groan, usually from busy entrepreneurs and small-business owners, whose general sentiment is “not ANOTHER social-media platform!” I believe the real reason for hesitation from most in this group is that they do not want to be a “talking head” on camera. Not everyone is cut out for that kind of engagement. You don’t want to turn off potential customers or clients, because you are nervous or unapproachable.
Regardless if you are stoked or bummed out about these new platforms, they can't be ignored. Here are a few creative ways to leverage live streaming, no matter your business.
1. Take people behind the curtain
Obviously, speakers can literally take viewers behind the scenes but almost any businesses can also use this tactic. For instance, if you have an Etsy store, you could live stream how your handmade products are created. If you have a floral shop, you could show how you choose flowers for an arrangement and put them together. A camera-shy consultant could live stream a meeting or call. If you own a cupcake store, take your customers back into the kitchen and show employees decorating your treats. As you can see, no matter what industry you are in, you can use this behind-the-scenes strategy to show people the more human side of your company, while rewarding them for using the platform with never-before-seen footage.
2. Make customer feedback dynamic
Many people have already seen the power in Q&A broadcasts with their followers. However you don’t have to simply sit and look at the camera to answer questions. You could walk through your warehouse and pull out various products while asking for customers for feedback. Or you could show product samples, color choices and molds and ask consumers what they think (this would do wonders for market research). By providing a more dynamic and collaborative Q&A experience, you not only make it more interesting but also more intimate.
3. Demonstrate, introduce or explain your products
There is a reason that some YouTubers make a killing each year opening and reviewing products on the platform. People want to see what they’re getting before they buy. Try this strategy with Meerkat or Periscope. You could unbox, assemble and explain physical products and stop to explain customer questions or concerns in real time. If you’re a realtor, you could walk through listings, answering questions about the property. If you have an online business, consider using broadcast instead of a pre-recorded webinar. If you own a boutique clothing store, you could have employees assemble and or try on outfits. The possibilities are endless.
4. Consider a spokesperson
There is something special about asking questions and having a person answer them on a live stream. So just like you might have a team member who is a talented writer handle the company blog, consider using an employee as the face of the company for some of your live broadcasts. Do some test runs to make sure they are quick on their feet, well versed in your brand script and engaging on video.
Once you start to think of live streaming as an extension of your content, rather than a new “broadcasting” platform, you can start to harness the power of real-time engagement. Just like all other content marketing, make sure you stay on brand and are investing your time wisely. Be consistent in when and what you broadcast about, and soon you will see your viewership grow, giving you more customers to get direct real-time feedback from.