How good can your business be at “live”?
If social media accomplished anything, it brought brands out into the open. It forced brands to respond - in public - to their consumers. Not just the bad stuff… everything. It was (and continues to be) a huge paradigm shift that has forced all businesses (B2B, B2C, small, medium and large corporations) to change how they operate, how they communicate, and even how they innovate. For consumers - and more evolved business leaders - this is a good thing. This “publicness” of brands created a sense of egalitarianism - a way to create and engage in more human-to-human connections between a business and a consumer. Now, customer sentiment mixed with traditional brand messaging creates an arena where everyone can better understand if a brand truly does deliver on its vision, mission and brand promise. It has also created a platform for interactions. Brands can connect directly to consumers and - perhaps more importantly - consumers can also connect to one another about a brand. Don’t believe me? Go and check out the customer reviews on Amazon.
What is the evolution of brands in our digital age?
It’s hard to argue that Snapchat is not the latest and greatest shiny, bright object to capture all of our attention. And, if you break down what Snapchat delivers, it’s images (now, it’s mostly videos) in a very direct, quick and interesting way. When Snapchat first launched, I called this the beginning of The Impermanent Internet (back in 2012). The Impermanent Internet is a place where consumers can connect with brands, but once that interaction is over, it’s gone. Poof. There is no search results there, lurking beneath, that change the brand impression. Snapchat also feels more “live.” Video does that. YouTube enabled brands and consumers to publish video online. The adoption of smartphones enabled brands and consumers to create videos on the fly - quickly and easily. Snapchat shifted videos to a faster - more messaging-like - space. Now, video, social media, mobile and publishing seems to be all about moving from a “record and publish” model to a “live” model. Shoot it and stream as it happens.
Live video is a whole other beast for business.
It’s hard to script. There’s no “fixing it in post-production.” There’s no second take. There’s no taking it back. While Periscope and Meerkat could well be the platforms that drove live streaming to a larger recognition, the real excitement is happening on both Snapchat and Facebook Live videos. It’s early days for Facebook Live (currently, it’s available to those with verified Pages and public figures using Mentions), but the current slew of news that has come out - in the past short while - is pointing to some very important changes to Facebook, that will affect all brands.
Live videos will get ranked higher.
Brands still jockey for position in search engine results. Getting to the top rank on search engines - or a news feed - can make all the difference in the world for a brand. Facebook believes that people want more live videos, so they’re going to make them more relevant (or… top of feed), to make the news feed experience more engaging. This past March, Facebook made an important announcement about how live videos would start appearing in their news feed. From the press release:
“Now that more and more people are watching Live videos, we are considering Live Videos as a new content type - different from normal videos - and learning how to rank them for people in News Feed. As a first step, we are making a small update to News Feed so that Facebook Live videos are more likely to appear higher in News Feed when those videos are actually live, compared to after they are no longer live. People spend more than 3x more time watching a Facebook Live video on average compared to a video that’s no longer live. This is because Facebook Live videos are more interesting in the moment than after the fact.”
While brands scramble to optimize their videos, please consider this…
It’s easy to think that there’s this new search engine optimization in town that has to do with social media, and placement within the various news feeds. There is that, and it is something that all brands will now need to take into consideration, but this will also require brands to be smarter, faster, sharper and more interesting. Still, even more fascinating is the fact that people spend more than three times more time watching live videos on Facebook, compared to a video that is no longer live. When we talk about real time marketing, could you have ever imagined that real time wasn’t about reacting to something in our culture, but being live - in the moment - with it?
Facebook will start pushing brands into the live arena.
Along with this news and the tweaks to the news feed, re/code also recently reported that Facebook has begun incentivizing celebrities to hop into this live video streaming service. Facebook has, traditionally, not paid content creators, but there is both a push towards this kind of service and a need to establish (grow) advertising revenue from live video for Facebook. Facebook’s video viewership continues to grow. Facebook is seeing a trend that consumers want live video. Facebook is giving all of us a glimpse into the future.
Brands are next.
Brands can decide if they simply want to advertise along with these celebrities, or if they want to have real skin in the content game. It’s easy for brands to want to do this, but it’s going to be very challenging to execute. It will be easy to blame legal, as to why a brand should avoid the world of “live” at all costs, but - much like social media - the movement towards live video is clear. And, this is not just Facebook. It’s going to happen across a myriad of digital channels as live becomes the logical evolution of publishing content.
Will brands to be able to capitalize on this next frontier of being truly live and in the now?