From Broadway shows to funerals, it seems like everyone is hosting their own livestream, and with good reason - transmitting an event or content online in real-time can engage audiences in a way normal video can’t. Now more than ever, we can depend on modern video technology to diminish the distance and break down the barriers keeping us from connecting with each other.
Livestreaming has been taking online audiences by storm for more than 20 years. In 1996, a group of then-big tech employees shared their after-work jam session in real-time by lowering the bandwidth previously required to transmit audio and video; yet these digital pioneers’ maiden voyage into what would become one of the most effective forms of internet communication used almost half of all internet bandwidth available at the time (source: switchboard). That’s right, the first-ever livestream required almost half of the internet to publish. You can still watch the whole thing (in all it’s pixelated glory) here.
Today, the combined sum of all livestreaming takes up even more space online. Streaming video accounts for over two-thirds of all internet traffic says GO Globe, and it’s expected to jump even higher (82%) in 2020.
Publishing a livestream is easy enough, which perhaps contributes to the medium’s popularity. Creators need only meet their audience where they’re already consuming content and where livestreaming is already an option, which is pretty much everywhere most internet users already are. GO Globe reports that 17% of US internet users pick Facebook Live as their preferred tool for livestream viewing, followed by Meerkat (17%), YouTube Live (16%), Younow (16%), Snapchat (12%), Twitter (12%), and Periscope (9%).
While publishing platforms may be readily accessible, what’s more challenging is coming up with content that’s actually interesting to viewers in what’s clearly a highly competitive space. Some ideas for brands looking to light up their livestream include:
Conduct a Q&A with your founder, a partner, or stellar employee. Demonstrating what connects them to your cause can inspire your audience to do the same.
Give a behind-the-scenes tour of your workspace or storefront. Not only will this appeal to customers who haven’t visited you in person, but sharing your space is a chance to show just how hard you’re working. You can also use a tour to highlight how much your business has grown since getting started, or you can take this opportunity to explain how much you want to grow and how you plan on doing it.
Host a how-to with a new product or offering. Take your audience step-by-step as you show them just how easy it is to work with you. Be thorough and you’ll likely address any questions they might have had before making a purchase.
Partner with a local teacher or musician to show your audience you care for their entire well-being, not just what’s in their wallet. A local doctor’s office, for example, could work with a yoga studio to offer a virtual class, or a restaurant could stream a demonstration from their head chef on how to create one of their signature dishes at home.
Part of the appeal of livestreaming is that it reveals the human behind the brand. Successful livestreaming requires you engage with viewers. Read questions or comments, respond to them in real-time, and take advantage of this unique kind of virtual conversation.
But like most conversations, if one person is having a hard time hearing the other, they’re likely to tune them out or move on. Same goes for those watching a livestream. Video quality is the most important factor for 67% of viewers when watching a live stream broadcast, and 62% of consumers are more likely to have a negative perception of a brand that publishes poor-quality video, Vimeo reports.
Luckily, we’ve come a long way from 1996. While anyone can create their own halfway decent livestream on their mobile device, there are now plenty of options to ensure that you keep your audience locked in on your livestream. You can even hire a professional videographer to capture your content in real-time while maintaining the high quality and authenticity your brand should be known for.
Few, if any, mediums can achieve the kind of real connection that naturally occurs during a livestream. Watching a video in real-time means the viewer is sharing something with not only the speaker, but all the other people watching the video too. We can share that time together. Even when the distances and differences between us seem vast, there’s something to be said for humans constantly seeking out ways to converse, to share, to connect.