If You Build it, They Will Come

Brands existed before broadcast media, but it’s broadcast media that’s empowered modern brands. That’s why it is surprising that more brands are not embracing live streaming platforms: Twitter-owned Periscope, YouNow, and the newly-launched Facebook Live. Because audiences for these platforms are not only showing up, but growing rapidly, they promise to become coveted and profitable consumer targets.

The potential of live streaming is reminiscent of the early days of broadcast media, when there were no reruns and brands thrived on the context of “happening now.”

BuzzFeed Livestream

GIF Credit: BuzzFeed Video

Live streaming platforms broadcast video to followers in real time, or within a specified window of time. It is the digital media equivalent of a live broadcast, but with an edge. Once the content window has expired, there’s a chance you’ll never see it again. And that context can make viewers less likely to time-shift, and more likely to be present, waiting to see what unfolds when it happens. Those same viewers are also more likely to watch an advertisement or integrated brand message. Best of all, these platforms were designed and built specifically for mobile viewing.

Imagine that you, as a brand marketer, could be guaranteed that your target audience watches a specific piece of content on their mobile device at a specific moment in time, and that your brand was guaranteed specific exposure.

Why wouldn’t you explore that platform? The answer for many brands today is that the content being live-streamed is largely not very compelling. Remember, this is a format that is still in its infancy, and many live streams are pedestrian, at best. The major events covered by live streams are also largely followed on traditional media outlets. So there isn’t a new explosion of brand activity—yet. But that’s all about to change.

Photo Credit: BBC News

For a growing number of media outlets, Facebook Live is becoming a natural extension of their current broadcasting capabilities. With over 28 million followers, BBC News used the platform to report live from Brussels during the March terrorism attacks. Unlike traditional broadcast media, Facebook Live allowed BBC to respond to viewer’s questions on air in real time. And the NFL just struck a deal with Twitter to live stream Thursday Night games.

In the very near future, we will surely see a few creative brands realize the potential of live streaming platforms in a compelling and proprietary content-driven approach. The smart brands will drive viewership by focusing on high-tension storytelling that resolves a cliffhanger or answers a massive question. They will create events that rally brand communities and incorporate A-list personalities.

Stream-worthy will become the new binge-worthy because audiences love the intimacy that often accompanies the the word “live.”

Years ago, Rachael Ray built her brand platform by seizing on this perception of intimacy. Though her show was not live, she insisted that blunders be kept in and not edited out of the program. If Rachael dropped a plate or over-cooked an ingredient, she kept going and didn’t allow her producers to substitute perfect dishes for the big reveal. This authentic relationship with her audience endeared her to legions of fans. Foodie authority Tastemade is capitalizing on a similar authentic interaction by producing 100 live daily shows each month for Facebook. These videos showcase both the blunders and successes of cooking, proving that live-streaming content can expand beyond gags and big events.

Brands can have the same affect by programming in the now. Let the events and the brand be real with the audience, and the audience is likely to tune in, turn up, and take home.

Feature Photo Credit: Lior + Lone via Stocksy

Full-length BuzzFeed Video: BuzzFeed via Facebook Live

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