Live-streaming, the ability granted upon us by the internet and coding gods to live broadcast anything, is emerging as a powerful communications tool for causes and brands. Web broadcast platforms such as Livestream.com and UStream.tv, and mobile apps such as Bambuser, magically turn any video camera, web cam, or smartphone with an internet connection into an always-on-air studio camera.
The livestreams can be broadcast through your Facebook page, your blog, and/or through the livestream services’ own broadcast properties. The integration on most of these platforms also allows your audience to leave comments, ask questions and react in real time in a window adjacent to the feed, establishing the beginning of a branded, social tv experience.
We put the technology to the test for Outerlocal last week, live-streaming a panel discussion of the history of mountain guiding in the Tetons. The panel featured seven iconic members of the Teton guiding community, each tackling the highs, lows, people and developments of an era of Teton guiding history.
Given it’s hyper-niche geographic and activity focus, you might expect this presentation to only be of interest to other guides or climbers in the Teton area, but knowing of the range’s role and high visibility in American and international mountain guiding circles, we felt that there was a large enough audience outside of Jackson to warrant a live broadcast of the vent.
We streamed the event through the Outerlocal Facebook page, as well as Marmot and American Alpine Club’s Facebook pages, giving us a direct potential audience of more than 110,000 people.
Taking an event that normally would have been confined to a 300-seat auditorium in Jackson and broadcasting it internationally, live/as it happens, is at the heart of the opportunity that livestreaming technology represents.
Live-streaming gives your audience, community, customers what they most value, programming and insider access to information that others can’t provide. This can include but is not limited to:
- Sponsored-athlete interviews, with live Q&A from your community
- Live reporting from a sponsored event, podium
- Live customer service, or Q&A with product team
- Live coverage of current events, such as cause-related issues
- Brand relevant programing, like music performances
It’s not enough just to plug-in your livestream platform and fire up the camera to attract and engage with an audience. There are a couple of to-dos to address when considering a live-stream application:
- Think about your event as if you were promoting a movie - How are you going to build awareness that this event is happening? To whom? What is your advertising and PR plan and budget?
- Hire a pro camera person that understands mixing, understands lighting, understands sound, understands cameras, understands staging (although our staging was weak but we didn’t have a lot to work with, and we understood that…)
- Leverage your partners - Develop an easy way for your partners (sponsors, panelists, media) to promote the livestream event by providing links to appropriate content, so they can share through their social networks. We used Facebook Events and a PitchEngine page.
- Schedule smart so that your audience tunes in to your program instead of say, tuning into Outside Magazine’s free screening of Cold that just so happens to be streaming at the exact same time as your panel livestream?
- Upgrade to a Pro account - The free accounts include advertising and you don’t have control over what ads will play during your program. The services do a good job of matching ads with your event, but there are no guarantees. The minimal investment will improve the experience.
- Develop a plan for how are you going to engage with your viewers on Facebook, on Twitter, on your blog? Who is the moderator? What are the parameters for discussion? What is your strategy for identifying people watching Outside’s streaming of Cold and reaching out to them
- Provide live highlights of the event through Twitter and Facebook to further drive interest and attract more viewers.
- Record the program - Most services provide a Record option that archives the show for later viewing.
- Play your sponsors brand videos during intermissions or breaks. Another great value add…The streaming services have intuitive mix-board platforms that allow you to switch between a livestream and an uploaded video, so you can play sponsor videos as “commercials”
- Promote and replay the recorded/archived video of the event through your social channels, Facebook, Twitter, Google + (Anyone? Anyone?), even email newsletters
- Report - Collect data from all of the campaign’s touchpoints, including views/viewers of the livestream, impressions on social channels, mentions on social channels, impressions of any press release or advertising in support of the event.
What you will find by pulling this data is, if you have done everything well, the ROI on a livestream will be more than your other marketing investments. The Customer/Community/Client Stoke Index (CSI) will be off the charts.
For Outerlocal, providing live-stream access to the event was a value-add for sponsors, giving them direct, intimate connection the event, and a higher level of brand association with mountain guiding in the Tetons, for very little cost. We provided custom, highly targeted live programming perfectly aligned with their brand.