Live events have the potential to accomplish wonderful things for a business. Shared experiences can create powerful connections and positive emotions for attendees. Think about the energy and excitement of a large stadium concert; capturing that type of atmosphere around your brand would be a huge accomplishment.
However, trying to bring a huge audience together might seem impractical for brands that have fans on a national or international scale. How would they get to the event, and what venue could possibly hold them all?
Luckily, great technology exists to bridge those gaps and make stellar live events a possibility for any business. Live-streaming offers a solution for gathering people without the concerns of geography. While it’s most commonly associated with the entertainment and tech industries, there’s no reason other fields can’t take advantage of this approach to connecting with fans. As with any marketing venture, all it takes is the proper knowledge and planning.
To be successful, a live stream needs to have subject matter that will appeal to your core audience. What will those people want to see? That’s the question to ask.
For instance, Taylor Swift created lots of hype for her recent single and album announcement by hosting a live stream on Yahoo. First, she demonstrated a clever use of social, promoting the event with clues on Instagram. But in all that lead-up, she never said exactly what the purpose of the event was. Developing an air of mystery is a great way to get people excited, and in this case, Swift was able to forge stronger bonds among her fans by generating shared excitement.
— Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13) August 11, 2014
Second, the content of her stream was of great interest to those people. Her last album came out two years ago, so fresh tunes were welcome news. The intelligent use of a live stream also catapulted the first single from the album to the top of the Billboard and Twitter Top 140 trending charts.
So what can your business learn from this successfully-branded pop star? Do everything in your power to make your stream a must-attend event for your online audience. Host a live Q&A with your company’s CEO. Introduce the great people on your team to a wider audience. Demonstrate the coolest things your product can do. Host a panel discussion with insightful speakers. The possibilities are vast, and if you prepare your audience well in advance, they will serve your goals well.
Build Buzz Beforehand
A live stream gives your brand a great social media talking point. Their real-time natures mean that live streams and social media have a great, symbiotic relationship; they support each other perfectly. To make sure you get a large audience, regularly talk up the event on your social channels beforehand. In these posts, clearly state the date and time of your stream. Plus include a teaser in each status update, some tantalizing hint about what you’ll offer viewers at the event. If there will be a hashtag for the stream, make sure that you share it in those updates too.
Not only will you want to discuss the event in advance to build interest and awareness, but you can run a live chat during the event to help encourage your fans to tune in. You can also have your social team on hand to answer questions, or even make social interaction a key component of your stream.
A strong performance on both social and streaming can forge connections between your brand and your fans. Especially as video becomes an ever-more popular component of social media, live streams can add immediacy and honesty to your brand’s content. Those are traits that online audiences often favor.
Another reason Swift’s stream was such a success is that it seamlessly combined both audio and visual elements. That’s no trouble for a pop singer releasing her new video, but brands can also be creative in how they use streaming to reach fans’ eyes and ears.
Good lighting is one of the most important factors for how your video will look. A professional presentation is more than just initial appearances, though. You need to hold your audience’s interest. If the whole stream will take place in one location, make sure that location is pleasing to the eye. If there is movement, choreograph where the focus is at any given time so that the camera can follow it.
Audio is also key. Even if the only sound is a person talking, make sure that the person has a microphone. If you’re using other music or multiple people will be presenting, test out the levels beforehand. You’ll be embarrassed if the CEO is trying to make an announcement that ends up being drowned out by what was supposed to be background music.
No matter what your setup is, take as many test runs as you need to get it right. Double-check all of your equipment before going live.
Hosts With The Most
A live event requires some degree of showmanship. Think of how you can create excitement and emphasize how your company is unique. Consider the skill of the late Steve Jobs, who always kept the audience glued to their seats with his stirring speeches to announce new Apple products. He always did more than show a new MP3 player or smartphone. His was charismatic and passionate about Apple’s philosophy. The way he talked about ideas was just as compelling as his latest creations, and it made those streams hugely popular.
The people who appear in a live stream don’t need to be professional entertainers, but they are the face of your company. Find a host who is comfortable with public speaking and who will set the right tone for your business. If you don’t have anybody in-house who fits that description, you may want to bring in outside help. French video game developer Ubisoft has a long-standing partnership with actress and comedian Aisha Tyler, who hosts many of their streamed press events. Tyler is known as a gamer, and her edgy sense of humor sets the Ubisoft events apart from the traditional corporate feel of other studios.
Celebrity involvement isn’t a necessity, but if you do bring in an outside host, they can help cast a broader social net for promoting the event on their personal accounts. Then you reach a bigger audience in addition to gaining a new business partner who will contribute a lot to the tone of your stream.
Now, I am no Taylor Swift groupie. In fact I can’t, off the top of my head, name one of her many hits that have inspired some 80 million downloads. And even if you played a few for me, I’m pretty positive I couldn’t identify her signature sound. (Maybe that says more about how unhip I am when it comes to pop music, but stay with me, please. I learned a lot from “Tay-Tay” and you can too.)