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Live video offers firms an inexpensive marketing tool, experts say

Facebook Live and other platforms allow small businesses to connect with their audiences, but strong content is key, they say.

Michelle Blum, owner of a nutrition and weight-loss

Michelle Blum, owner of a nutrition and weight-loss consultancy, uses live video to build her business. She says she receives more than 1,000 views per weekly episode. Photo Credit: Barry Sloan

Video content is exploding on the web — by 2021, it’s predicted to make up more than 80 percent of all internet traffic. As part of that growth, more businesses will be including live video in their marketing plans.

In fact, 94.8 percent of employees surveyed said sharing live video will be an important part of their company’s 2018 marketing mix, according to the 2018 Live Video Streaming Benchmark Report from Brandlive.

“People love to watch content,” says Brent Hieggelke, head of marketing at Brandlive in Portland, Oregon, a live video platform for brands and retailers. “It’s a trend you can’t ignore.”

Companies would be best served to create a strategy to produce live video content, and over time they can see what works with their audience, he said. “You can start small. It’s a very forgiving medium.”

Platforms to create live video include social media tools, such as Facebook Live and Periscope.

“Facebook has become so easy to use it’s kind of pushed the other ones out,” says Bill Corbett Jr., president of Corbett Public Relations in Floral Park, which offers video and media training.

He was an early adopter of live video and started using Periscope in 2015, but now primarily uses Facebook Live.

It has a large audience of viewers, says Corbett, who’s done live video from client events as well as man-on-the-street interviews.

He’s found the key to livestreaming isn’t just doing it occasionally, but having a consistent presence.

That’s what Michelle Blum, owner of nutrition and weight loss counseling business Nutrish Mish, does with a weekly Facebook Live show called “Nutrish Mish @ 8ish” that airs Wednesdays at 8:15 p.m. on the firm’s Facebook page.

“When it’s scheduled and it’s consistent, that’s when you start to grow an audience base,” she says, noting the show has been getting more than 1,000 views for each episode.

Blum promotes the topic a couple of days beforehand. While she usually shoots the video in her office, she says she recently did a meal prepping segment from her kitchen that was well received and shared.

Product demonstrations or taking viewers behind the scenes “in an authentic way” can be compelling, says Kerry Shearer of Sacramento, California, a livestreaming and smartphone video expert.

It pays to plan out three to five main talking points to stay focused, he says.

Still, you don’t want your video to come off as scripted.

“With live video it’s so much more real and raw and shows you in the way you would normally interact with your customers,” Shearer says. The benefit of live video is it “makes it easy to create content immediately without an expensive and extended production process.”

While it’s OK to use a smartphone, you may want to use accessories to improve the quality such as a floor or desktop tripod with a smartphone mount, a plug-in wired clip-on microphone, and a clip-on LED ring light that attaches to your phone, Shearer says.

Depending on your audience, you may want to spend a little more to create a studio space.

Fifty-three percent of respondents in the Brandlive survey said their live video budgets will increase in 2018.

Facebook Live and other social media platforms are free, but firms are also using platforms like Brandlive and creating private live video events talking to suppliers or customers or even employees.

“They are doing events that are private and semiprivate that would not make sense on social media,” Hieggelke says.

In fact, almost 44 percent of respondents moved beyond just social in 2017, according to Brandlive, which says its users pay in the “low thousands of dollars per month” for unlimited live events.

Regardless of what platform you use, always make sure you are delivering the best content, not a sales pitch, Corbett says. “The content level has to be good.”

Top benefits of live video events:

•Achieve deeper interaction with audiences

•Make videos more accessible

•Engage social media audiences

•Add a human element to digital marketing

•Hear directly from product experts

•Increase overall viewing time

Source: Brandlive 2018 Live Video Streaming Benchmark Report

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