While on-demand video has changed the way we consume media, live video streaming is by no means down for the count. On Facebook, live videos are watched three times longer than on-demand videos, a compelling engagement metric for any communicator. Besides Facebook, brands are leveraging live video features on sites like Instagram and Periscope, which is owned by Twitter.
It's easy enough to do: All you need is a phone with video recording capabilities, an account on one of these social media channels and an audience. But why — and exactly how — should you?
Engaging employees with livestreaming video
As corporate communicators, you're in a good position to use livestreaming video. You have a (somewhat) captive audience in your employees, who in turn have an active interest in goings-on across the organization. Live video streaming offers a powerful engagement tool for organizations that have multiple locations, offices in different countries or a sizable remote workforce.
Livestreaming video can be a great way to get messages out to your employees in uniquely engaging ways. Vox Advisory sales and marketing communications consultant Laura Wilkinson Sinton formerly worked with a Fortune 500 utility company where, she says, "We introduced and utilized video for everything from learning lunches on the last Friday of the month to our CEO's all-hands meeting and United Way kickoffs." According to Sinton, livestreaming video is especially useful for organizations with both geographic and demographic differences among the workforce. "In an email world, the context of using video with spoken word and facial expressions carries so much more engagement with everyone."
Live video streaming offers the opportunity for non-employees to feel part of organizational events, too — from customers to investors to the community. It's a great way to grow and engage both internal and external audiences.
Best practices for optimum engagement
Livestreaming is more powerful than pretaped video because it incorporates an element of participation. You can take steps to enhance this feeling and get your audience even more involved.
For example, try setting up an accompanying live chat so participants can ask questions and offer comments in real time. Have speakers specifically address certain individuals, departments or project teams so they feel acknowledged.
Sinton adds that it's important for communicators to "be prepared for everything." She advises conducting at least two dry runs and coaching those who will be speaking to help them learn to convey personal warmth. While effective livestreaming video looks casual and natural, it takes practice to make it look that way.
Livestreamed events convey a perception of casual spontaneity. That shouldn't, though, be the approach you take to delivering these events. Careful planning is important to ensure audience engagement and relevance. And, just like with all of your communication efforts and materials, you'll want to make sure that the quality of your output is aligned with your brand image.
Technology considerations also come into play. We've all been unfortunate victims of video streams that fail to load, continuously buffer and, all in all, provide a less-than-satisfying experience. It's important to work with your technology resources — internal or external — to ensure an optimum viewing experience.
Finally, don't leave viewership to chance. Just because you film it doesn't mean an audience will come!
The power of promotion
For the greatest success with livestreaming video, "it's important to generate excitement for the event and the speaker," according to Heide Abelli, an adjunct professor at Boston College's Carroll School of Management and senior vice president of content product management at Skillsoft. This can be done in a variety of ways — from email blasts to executive sponsorship to teas or receptions before the event.
"Identify ways to align the event topic to company-wide initiatives within your organization," Abelli advises. "Doing so helps contextualize the content while also promoting learning on critical topics that align to the business."
Creating a communication plan to drive efforts around promoting livestreamed events can be a good way to leverage the right communication channels and ensure success. There's nothing worse than spending time and effort to deliver a live event only to get a low turnout. Drive interest and participation through existing communication channels and engage senior leaders, managers and other influencers to deliver the message and encourage participation.
And don't think that your efforts no longer have value once the event has passed. Capture the live video to archive on your website or use in other forms — shorter clips or transcripts, for example — for maximum exposure.
Live video streaming is a cost-effective and engaging way to share messages with key audiences. As such, it's a communication tool that should be in every corporate communicator's toolbox.
Download our .futurology report to find out more about how live video streaming could be the gateway to brand authenticity.