Even if you are the most casual of social media users, chances are that at some point or another you have seen a live video pop up on your social media feed.
Platforms like YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter all have live video options on their site, ready and waiting to be utilised.
Now, what I’m about to say might be a bit controversial. But, in my experience, 90% of the people and businesses who I have seen use live video didn’t know how to use it properly.
Whether it’s a live video by your aunt who is fanatically sharing an out of focus version of Yellow from the nosebleed seats at a Coldplay concert, to the occasional business announcement using the live format to excuse a poor quality, impromptu product release, the format seems to have many stumped.
One thing I do want to say is that it isn’t all doom and gloom. To show this, I’ve included a few examples of live videos done well to serve as inspiration, like the great Disney/AirBnB collaboration below.
What’s the problem?
Don’t get me wrong, I think live videos can be a fantastic way of reaching audiences and providing a whole new format for creating online conversations. But, on the whole, live videos seem to be used as a cost-cutting, showcase of amateur content.
The problem for the most part, as I see it, seems to be a lack of preparation. If you were approaching any other media production, be it television ads, product images or branding, you would spend time researching your target market and planning the release of the content to ensure it has the best effect. Live video should be the same.
In order to really highlight the reasons for this, here are the main pros and cons of using live videos (over other visual formats):
> It’s low cost.
> It can be recorded immediately.
> You have the opportunity of engaging with users live in comments.
> There is a tremendous support for live videos from platforms like Facebook and YouTube, who will help to push your video out there.
> You get value from the initial broadcast, as well as from subsequent viewers.
> People, on the whole, do not expect live videos to be as good quality as pre-prepared videos.
> Content of the video needs to be interesting, and remain interesting.
> People on social channels (aside from YouTube) are not generally there to watch video as a main priority.
> Poor quality videos can reflect poorly on brands and damage professional image.
> Live videos run the risk of on-air issues.
> Live video lacks the polish of a prepared and scripted video.
In the grand scheme of things, live video is still a relatively new format – and many people are still coming to grips with it. It is my hope that as people get more familiar with the format and see others using it well, they will follow suit.
Here are my top tips for improving the quality of your live video.
Do your preparation
Though it may sound counter-intuitive to prepare in advance for a live video, it really does go a long way when it comes to the finished product. Aspects such as a finding exciting, entertaining people to be in the video, a general running script, testing your streaming connection and even some basic rehearsals will turn your live video from a bumbling thirty-minute slog to a live-but-refined video with a clear point and engaging content.
The above video by Target is an example of how NOT to do a live video. The video was meant to be a behind the scenes of a new Gwen Stefani music video. The video was poorly lit, bad quality and, as the real kicker, featured no Gwen Stefani.
Incorporate your viewers
What is one of the main pros to using live video, that you can’t get from pre-recorded content? Live interaction. In the current social media climate, engagement is incredibly valuable. Inspiring your audience to do more than just eye your post or give a cursory Like is difficult, particularly for businesses. Having a format that actively encourages users to write comments, ask questions or engage in debate is remarkably useful.
During your video, have some questions ready, or ask people to submit questions that you can answer live on air. Twitter is particularly good for this, as you can ask people to submit questions using a set hashtag.
Question whether the format is the best for you
As I mentioned in my pros list above, live video is cheap and easy to use – but just because these factors are enough to make your finance department happy, doesn’t mean it’s the best course of action when it comes to marketing.
For important company announcements or adverts, think about what you would rather watch. A slick one minute advert which is concise and visually creative, or the company CEO talking for twenty minutes about how great a product is.
Realise that some content works better live than others
When it comes to live video, not all concepts are created equal. Simply put, some concepts work fantastically when it comes to live video, whilst others would be best showcased elsewhere.
Some ideas that work particularly well when it comes to live production are:
> Q&A videos
> Industry news updates
> Discussion panels
> High profile events
> Behind the scenes video
> Delivering live training
As an additional note, there are some great minds out there in the marketing world – and you can rest assured that there will be formats that aren’t on my list that will work wonders for the people who come up with them. Which leads me to…
As with everything to do with social media and digital marketing, the landscape is competitive; people’s engagement is limited, and creativity is everything. The good thing about live videos being relatively underutilised at this time is that there are plenty of opportunities for people to stand out from the crowd.
Though it may sound as if I am coming down hard on the side of people making live videos, I am hoping that it is the opposite. There is so much potential out there for live videos on social media, and not enough people taking full advantage of the format. With just a little bit of preparation and a strong message, it won’t take much to get more businesses live and kicking.
One mistake that many smaller businesses make is thinking that making amazing videos has to be expensive. This simply isn’t the case. Learn all you need to know with our in-house video professor at the Giant Campus DIY video course, next date is the 26th March.
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