Live streaming through social platforms is a trend that has become prevalent in the last few years, and it’s here to stay. Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and soon LinkedIn have all introduced live streaming features to offer users the ability to share real-time content with their followers – and it has proven to be an effective tool for businesses.

Live video is in invaluable tool in that it allows you the opportunity to connect and engage directly with your followers in real time. Engagement rates have proven to be significantly larger than traditional upload videos with an average of three times more watch time and six times more engagement. Viewers are drawn to live video because they can interact with a brand or business in real time, leading to trust and loyalty.

There are a number of ways you can utilize live streams for your business, including Q&As, behind the scenes, product launches, contests, interviews, demonstration/unboxings and tours. The most important thing is to make sure you’re choosing something that makes the most sense for your brand.

Not sure how to prepare for your first live stream? Start by making sure you have some basic tools to ensure high quality content including a mic for audio, tripod, good lighting and are filming in a quiet area. If you’re using a smartphone, make sure you have a strong connection and high quality camera. Check out this blog from Social Chefs on some useful tools to use for your live stream. Write down a few key words ahead of time and don’t be afraid to record yourself beforehand to practice speaking to the camera. There are also apps like Bigvu that turn your smartphone into a teleprompter to make sure you relay your messaging as intended.

The goal in hosting a live stream is engagement. Viewers want unique and exclusive content that will enable them to engage a two-way conversation to feel truly immersed with the brand. Make sure you are offering something valuable to your audience that will encourage them to tune in. Pay attention to comments and questions being sent in real time to drive meaningful conversation with your viewers.

As far as promotion, start advertising your stream on social channels 24 hours to three days before you go live. This is also a good opportunity to engage with followers and get a pulse for what they are interested in hearing about during your stream. The day after your stream is a good opportunity to post a recap blog including highlights and any positive engagement that happened during the stream.

Still don’t feel ready to go live? Try using Facebook’s Premiere feature. This lets you post a pre-recorded video that appears as if it is live and is a good place to start if you don’t feel quite ready to dive into live stream. Remember – it’s okay to be vulnerable and imperfect. Viewers want to feel like they’re connecting with a real person rather than a company, and this connection will foster a strong relationship moving forward.

How do you use live streaming in your digital marketing? Share your thoughts with us on LinkedIn or Twitter!

By Amy McDowell, Account Executive at Tanis Communications