Thursday, December 29, 2016

10 Ways to Livestream your Business

Teenagers seem to have a new dance these days: running around, phones held high, squealing and gesturing into the air, completely oblivious to anyone over 25... and friends, it’s not The Twist they’re doing, it’s livestreaming. And as usual, they can teach us a lot because the biggest trend for 2016 in business was exactly that! Hang onto your hats, Gen X, it’s a thing, and I can help you learn how to use it for your business.

My friend Sunny and I broadcasting live from an event

First, you’ll need to master the technical details, which can be found on my previous blog post. If there is anything I didn’t cover in sufficient depth, as my 12-year-old says, “Google It!” To get used to the practice, play around with live broadcasts on different platforms (you can always delete them later!) and once you have the hang of it, then comes the real work. What are you going to broadcast? Short of answering “everything”, let me share some ideas:

Tour of your office / studio: One of the first Instagram lives I watched was an artist standing in the middle of his studio with his dog, drinking a beer. He was speaking into the camera at intervals, but mostly panning around to his workspace, the materials he had out, his beer, his dog… OK the dog was getting the most “likes” but it was a fascinating few minutes where I and a handful of others got to hear someone speak who’s work we had previously followed online, and seeing the stacks of raw materials and the tools he used made me look at his work with even more interest. It was as good as being given a tour in person. Well, that minus the beer and getting to pet the dog.

Show yourself or staff sampling food at your restaurant: No the viewers still won’t be able to taste it, but the visuals can be so much fun for this kind of thing! The possibility for candid humor abounds here as well, especially if you are particularly expressive of face. Not that I saved it for the archives, but the very first live I did was on FaceBook as I sat at Starbucks sampling one of their new coffee drinks. Friends who watched it said they cracked up over the face I made when I tasted how over-sugared the drink was, so this kind of thing can be used to humanize posts.

Demonstrate a how to: The world of the instructional video is something that pains many of us who had corporate jobs in the 80s and 90s, so we should be thrilled that it has loosened up and morphed into the more casual realm of livestreaming. The best part is that many of the venues allow you to save the MP4 files so you can later edit or publish on your website or YouTube as you see fit. Not to be confused with internal training, which should still remain internal, but many of your customers would love to see how it is that you do what you do. Candy making, carpentry, hair cutting, you name it. Show it going on live, and you’ve connected on a deeper level with your audience / clients. Re-posting clips of actual genius elsewhere can boost your SEO and help demonstrate your expertise in the field.

Interview Staff: why not do an impromptu Q&A in the office? Let your viewers get to know you and your team beyond what you carefully edit and post. The nature of livestreaming lends itself to un-rehearsed chat, so keep it informal and short. I would plan to ask people something about their area of strength or have them recount a story they love to tell. People love to talk, and it helps us connect with one another.

Day-in-the-life: Follow someone on their daily rounds of work, or film yourself if it isn’t dangerous. This behind-the-scenes, cinema verite technique can be effective to show a process (similar to a demo video) or a routine, such as feeding animals in a shelter, delivering newspapers or anything else that lends itself to a ride-along mindset.

Special event: this is perhaps the biggest use of livestreaming, and it’s a perfect fit. Whether you are broadcasting to those who couldn’t attend, or trying to build cachet by showing something not open to the public, the special event broadcast meshes well with social media’s aspirational feel. I will admit to watching lives filmed at award shows and fancy dinners which I would never be able to attend in reality.

Document changes: Are you having furniture delivered? Cutting your hair? Demo-ing an old office building? All of these moments can now be shared live and as they happen!

Work-in-progress: One of my favorite things to see on Instagram is when an artist shows images of the same work at different points in its creating. The work-in-progress broadcast takes this to another level and can be used to show process as well as steps. You could do a panorama of all current projects in your workshop, for example, or do a quick kitchen view while food prep is going on, for example, and then follow it up with a still photo post afterwards. For example, film a short live video of gift bags being assembled at an event, and then post a photo of the finished product on your event page.

Announcement: Livestreaming is the new press release! You can film yourself or staff making a business announcement or reading from a press release. The way to make this dynamic is to post in advance, stating the time that the live will be broadcast and reminding your fans to tune in to see it. Who rules this type of hype? Apple.

Q&A: finally, a live broadcast can be used to take questions from customers. You can set it up in advance so that people tweet their questions with a # that you will be following, and you can read them and answer them live, or you can also take the questions on the spot. Just be sure to read the questions aloud so that your viewers know what you are talking about!

Livestream anything - even listening to music in your car!



As I said above, I really think you can livestream just about anything, and if you have other ideas, please share in the comments. Remember the purpose of the broadcast, and tailor your language and behavior to the occasion, but have fun with it. Of course you still want to ask yourself each time if it is in line with your marketing plan and your mission statement and if you answer yes, press that button!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Carried Away with Livestreaming!

Though I've been calling 2016 the Year the Music Died (still mourning the loss of David Bowie and so many others), for digital marketing purposes, it is the year of Livestream - see this completely biased yet interesting and data-filled post from Livestream.com to learn about global use of live streaming. It is a thing and not going away any time soon. Are you doing it?

We've come a long way since 2010, when live baby owls broke the Internet with a U-Stream of their owl box in Southern California which was watched by 20,000 people and generated 20 million pageviews - did you get caught up in that? I sure did, I can remember watching it with my (then) 6-year-old daughter and shouting "live baby owl cam" over and over!


The Royals and their Owl Box: breaking the Internet before Kim K!

The baby owl cam, and the many other wildlife streams that copied it, were first generation and required detailed infrastructure like still-mounted cameras, cables, cords and formal web hosting to reach viewers around the world. The model was built on live streams offered from courtrooms and other business applications, running 24/7 regardless of viewers or content. In the 6 years since, we've striped away the barriers to entry so that anyone with a smart phone and a social media account can now broadcast live. Niche platforms like Periscope, Swarm and others offered livestreaming early on, but it was not until the megalith that is Facebook offered it (in August 2015) that it took off on a peer-to-peer level. 

Livestream is now THE thing, and it isn't just for teens chatting to friends. Businesses at all levels are using it, from an artist live streaming new work in progress, to Fortune 500 companies livestreaming behind-the-scenes segments during business events and everything in between. It is ON. 

FACEBOOK: 

I've been using Facebook live, and really enjoying it. Some of my broadcasts have a business focus (in fact, I appeared on a panel discussing eCommerce, which was broadcast in it's entirely on Facebook live) while others are just random silliness, like OH Wow, I have to share what I'm listening to on the radio Right Now! I even did a livestream to talk about doing livestreams: 

covershot; actual vid below :)

video

The thing I like best about livestreaming is the comments feature: your audience can comment on your stream as it happens. I use this often to ask questions (who uses FB live? how many sleeping puppies are in this pile?) and of course the ability to click "like" on the video as it plays, so that the broadcaster can see which element is the most popular. 

INSTAGRAM: 

Despite the fact that I love (and teach!) Instagram, I think the live feature is weaker than Facebook's. Note, Facebook owns Instagram now, so many of the same features are available, with the major exception being that Instagram Live broadcasts are not saved and cannot be replayed. Since Instagram live was just debuted in November, we can be sure to expect plenty of changes as the service becomes more popular. Though I have plenty of followers on Instagram, my broadcasts get few viewers and I am playing around with timing. Key also is announcing that the broadcast will be done. During the 2016 Election, I made the following announcement and then followed up with a later post giving the time ("Going live at 7pm with my dramatic reading, tune in!").

Announce the upcoming livestream to gain watchers

I could just as easily have made this announcement on Instagram and done the reading on that platform (had it been available then,) but Facebook saved the video so that friends who could not join in the moment were still able to watch later. 

As mentioned, Instagram is just starting the whole live thing so I'm sure it will change as soon as next week, but for now, if someone you follow is currently live (when you open the app), you will see a purple "live" tag in their round circle which otherwise indicates they have posted an Instagram Story (these are short vids and images that only last for 24 hours on the platform in addition to the original photo grid / feed.)

From my home screen, I can see that @ivy_unicorn is live

Then I can go to my story screen and start my own live broadcast, and here is what I would see before anyone started watching me:

(filmed during the recent San Francisco RAINPOCALYPSE...)

I've noticed that the popular videos on Instagram so far are - SHOCKINGLY - livestreams of pet accounts. Yes, I have watched, and "hearted" repeatedly streams of people's cats playing. I mean, of course I just use this for business research purposes ;)

TWITTER: 

I have to admit that I have not yet used Twitter live (a whole new meaning to "live tweeting" eh?) but I got this email announcement yesterday that it is available now, so stay tuned because I will try it too.



I wonder how soon till Donald Trump starts livestreaming? Did I mention that 2016 was the End of Times....

Follow me on Instagram and Twitter: @carriedawaysf and share your livestream experiences in the comments!