Is This Thing On? Lessons from Our Brand’s First Live Stream

Woman taking photo

The never-ending stream of new social media channels continues to flow. Among the latest technology trends to capture our collective fancy is live streaming via apps like Periscope and Meerkat. Are you ready to use them to promote your brand?

First, some quick background for the uninitiated: Periscope and Meerkat allow anyone with a smartphone to broadcast video to the world. Viewers can “like” and comment about what they see, and broadcasters can respond in real-time.

I experimented with Periscope within days of its release and quickly found live streams that enabled me to ask questions of ESPN SportsCenter anchors as well as a Los Angeles Angels TV announcer. They answered my questions, and I was hooked! Needless to say, I don’t normally have a way to engage with these types of people ­– thus the allure of these new channels.

Some big-name brands recently began to experiment with Periscope and Meerkat, so we thought The Creative Group should give it a try. We invited attendees at the HOW Design Live conference – and creatives who simply wanted to be there – to join us for two sessions.

Here are some tips we learned that you can consider when you do your first (or next) live stream:

Talent Matters

We were fortunate to have two people leading our Periscope session (TCG executive director Diane Domeyer and TCG vice president of strategic accounts and managed services Soowan Scheuermann) who could easily work in television for a living. They smiled, projected energy, had interesting things to say and set each other up for success.

Takeaway: You don’t need to be an extrovert, but you do need to be comfortable in front of a camera.

Production Values Matter

Our camera person – er, iPhone person – did a great job framing the shot so that Diane and Soowan were at the top of the screen, with blank space toward the bottom where viewer comments could appear without obscuring the talent. The HOW Design Live banner was in the middle, giving context about our location. Despite being in a busy convention hall, Diane and Soowan were in a quieter corner and spoke loudly and clearly.

Takeaway: Watch a bunch of live streams and think about what they do well – and not so well – before you dive in. Your audience can’t enjoy what they can’t see or hear. Also, take note that you’ll need to shoot with a vertical frame, not horizontal.

Build Your Audience

As it turned out, we experienced a “Tale of Two Live Streams.” Our first was promoted several times before we started, but the second wasn’t promoted as frequently because of WiFi problems at the venue. Guess which one had more viewers?

As the broadcast took place, we could see the audience grow. But then – bam! – it was over. Unfortunately, it looks like some folks were just getting to the party when it ended.

Takeaway: Promote your live stream like crazy before you start. Make sure you’ll have a good signal at the venue. When you start the live stream, take a little time to let the audience build before you get into the meat of your discussion. It can take a minute or two for a crowd to show up. The challenge is teasing the great content to come so you don’t lose those who have already arrived. If things are going well, keep going! I’ve seen broadcasts go on for half an hour or more with the audience growing the whole time.

Interact, Interact, Interact!

While our sessions provided the news of the day in a concise and entertaining way, we didn’t solicit questions from the audience, effectively dismissing the greatest benefit of this new social tool: engagement.

Takeaway: Make it interactive. You might be surprised how thrilled some of your viewers will be to have their questions answered. Be prepared for the occasional rude or off-topic questions and comments, which you’re welcome to ignore. (You can even block people from commenting, if necessary.) If you pick a question you know how to answer well, it asserts you and your brand as a topical authority.

Keep ’Em Engaged

At one point in our session, Soowan referred to photos he’d taken at the conference and suggested viewers check them out on his Twitter page. It was a smart way to further engage viewers. At the end of the live stream, we saved the video and uploaded it to TCG’s Facebook page (and also tweeted a link to it) for others to view on demand. We ended up with more viewers there than the live stream. Viewers couldn’t interact, but they could enjoy the information that was shared. Warning: you’ll only have one chance to save the video, at the end of the livestream. Pay attention to the options you’re offered at that time.

Takeaway: Think about your goals for the conversation. Is it just positive branding, or do you want your audience to check out other resources?

Should you try it?

If you’re interested in building a stronger relationship with your target audience, technology trends in live streaming can help you do it. While you want to present your brand professionally, resist the natural urge to be perfect. Overly produced live streams have the potential to make your brand look a little stuffy. These tools are designed for on-a-whim broadcasts and most live streams have a breezy, personal feel to them.

Let’s learn from each other. What has your experience been when using Periscope or Meerkat? What other technology trends are you exploring?

Related post: Social Media Marketing: 8 Tips for Effective Brand Management