By Anne Potts, Racepoint Global Executive Vice President, Global Client Services & Standards
Is 2017 the year when livestreaming will overwhelm our social feeds? Will everyone be in on it, or will it dominate for only some of us? Are influential YouTubers now the old guard, needing to retool their approaches to engage a changing audience? What’s the best play for a brand in this emerging but yet familiar space?
Livestreaming is booming in China, according to Andreesen Horowitz partner Connie Chan. Her post is worth the read for a variety of points, but what caught my eye was the expected effect of livestreaming on YouTubers. The YouTube model is pretty set – the most popular cater to their audiences of millions by posting about once a day, thinking in terms of a ‘show’ that has an arc and certain production values, but a livestreamer doesn’t have those constraints. Inherently mobile-first, livestreaming is a small-screen, nimble approach – audiences will still have standards, but they want access, not high production. The urgency of it happening now, whatever the ‘it’ is, brings a proximity and intimacy that no recording, no matter how recent, can provide.
So, it’s huge in China but not quite (or yet?) a revolution across markets. Facebook Live’s huge in-market promotion is likely spurring some activity, but uptake is still relatively small, according to eMarketer, and with time we’ll see what persistent use proves to be. As we know, China’s trends aren’t necessarily predictive of behavior in other markets.
Are you ready to test the waters for your brand or campaign? Here’s are some options to consider when you’re thinking of how to make livestreaming work for you.
- Visual Proof – Whether it’s to prove that paint dries as promised, ingredients really are as tasty as they sound or if a product is truly built by hand, seeing IS believing. Livestream offers the most truthful view a brand can offer and doesn’t need to be brief – livestreaming is elastic. Forget what you believe to be true about video length. Audiences are persisting to follow as long as proof is in the making, even for hours.
- Insider Access – A classic approach, this is the behind the scenes, backstage or deskside view of something in progress. There’s urgency and tension coming from the livestream – you see what’s happening without a filter. It has an air of exclusivity, live and raw, and anything can happen.
- Stunt – Is that a dirty word? Regardless, you know what we mean here – it’s about surprise and delight, an intriguing, must-see happening. YouTube is usually the go-to for this, but the vulnerability and possibility that comes from livestreaming puts this kind of thing on a whole new level.
- Event – Brand journalism at its best, event livestreaming is the most obvious use of any of these platforms. Anticipate that there will be many “reporters” capturing the event from all angles, including user-generated content. The nimble nature of these platforms helps us and the broader user set reframe what constitutes an event and levels the playing field with regard to video. We’ll still think of higher production values for certain purposes, but telling a brand story live becomes barrier-free – a product launch can be as high-access as the summer outing or headquarters move.
Get your devices charged up and start experimenting with the approach that fits your brand and plan. We’ll be watching!