You know live content has begun to take full steam when it appears in your Facebook mobile application. It’s funny to think that we can now look at UI/UX implementation with industry-leading applications as a precursor to content deployment, but such is the case with this phenomenon. Live content is not anything new. We’ve enjoyed it for ages, from storytellers to playwrights, from the radio to the television.
Specific to content marketing, one could argue it started with “streaming content.” From its humble beginnings pushing audio, leapfrogging into adult entertainment feeds, all the way to real-time connectivity to events and news — people want content, and they one it now. Or in some cases, they want the perception of the content in real time. I will circle back to that momentarily.
I am not going to utilize this post as a forum to talk about any type of litigious infractions that can result from live content. This is something you should take up with an attorney as it pertains to the type of content you intend to collect and stream. But if you intend to utilize this for defined marketing purposes, or a defined brand, then it would be in your best interest to protect yourself by doing so. That said, an outstanding resource I have found is a personal friend of mine Kerry O’Shea Gorgone, J.D./M.B.A. Here’s a great couple of articles to get you started:
While it would be easy for me to re-replicate what Kerry has so dutifully outlined in her legal checklist, my best practices will be coming from a more puritanical marketing perspective.
One of the many things we all do with a shiny new toy is play with it before we tell anybody that we have it. Brands and marketers often do the same thing. Even if it’s in a microcosm, you need to think of your content in the live environment much like you would a live newsroom. You still need to tell people that you are going on at a specific time, what types of topics you’re covering, and why they should even care. Therefore, within your content marketing calendar, preemptively plan to construct social media posts around the live stream. Just like any great email or podcast, think of ways to hook the audience into wanting to stop what they’re doing and sync up with you at a specific time.
Stick to your guns:
Other than being tossed into a wood chipper or perhaps set on fire, one of the most painful things we might have to endure is logging on to a streaming connection only to have to wait 10 minutes before actual connectivity comes to life. At this point, you’ve not only lost my attention and possibly my loyalty but brand credibility as well. So the valuable lesson is to make sure you go “on air” when you say you’re supposed to. Even if you are just sitting there waiting for something to happen, I want to know someone else is sharing my pain.
Graphics are a plus:
Depending on how you intend to go live, and which tools you use, often you can create title overlays to identify people and relay what’s happening in the video. This is acceptable when it comes to long-form live content such as conventions, seminars, and educational material that may have people logging in and out at different times. If you can insert specific updaters as to the content that they are watching, you’re more apt to entice a user to stay connected to your content and increase retention. This, of course, goes for things also such as lower thirds that outlines the speaker’s name, social handles and title. Making nice with the SMEs will always pay off in the long run.
Create a parallel forum for chat:
Some of the better tools such as Google Hangouts and Periscope allow for your audience to have a secondary line of chat while the primary content is streaming. This is incredibly important as it maintains dwell time and in many cases gives insight to the host or content creator as to what the audience wants to digest.
Emulate your brand:
Remember when you’re creating live content, WYSIWYG! What your consumer sees is biblical in their eyes at that moment. Therefore, just as I would outline with “personal branding 101,” what you wear, how you speak, and your style of engagement will all go into supporting and emulating your brand. Now that doesn’t mean that everybody has to wear a suit and have giant sparkly horse teeth. I, myself have created a brand that is steeped in a vision of a blue-collar mentality working hard in a white-collar world. Therefore, emulating my brand in a live content environment would also include things like a pair jeans, sneakers, and perhaps a snarky T-shirt.
Talking behind your back:
Just as important as live content is the ability to replay, share, and revisit the key findings from it. So once you have the content created, construct an environment where you progressively redistribute it through your social channels over a period of time. This way you can maximize and extend the life of that content. Once the content is in play throughout your social media marketing efforts, you can construct different avenues of conversation regarding the key takeaway.
Styles, and your A/V gear:
One of the last things you can discuss when it comes to best practices regarding live content is the audio-visual gear you use. Not only should you consider the appropriate gear for your audience, but what does it say stylistically about your brand? A half a dozen years ago, content for online could pass as “low fidelity” and didn’t need to be as crisp and clear as what we were accustomed to in television. Now that content is blurring the lines between television and online, so is the demand for the quality of content that your user will consume. Nevertheless, you may still find yourself in an environment where a simple cell phone camera and built-in microphone will do the trick. Man-on-the-street interviews, breaking news, and viral videos often are sensationalized by the sense that they are not done professionally. They “feel” like they are done by anyone, and, therefore, cast a sense of authenticity because it resonates as a “that could be me” moment.
When creating content that you intend to distribute progressively over a period of time, you want to think about utilizing better equipment to create better results. This content often has intro and exit slides, graphics, and other professional post-production techniques.
Realize that when you are dealing with live content, unless you have a multi-camera set up, you may have a camera fixed on sticks, or a “run and gun” feel to a one camera and microphone operation. While often it is perfectly acceptable in real time, if you intend to repurpose that video, sweetening it with graphics and post-production can drastically increase the level of perceived professionalism and thereby extend its longevity.
I could get into a thousand conversations as it pertains to cameras and audio equipment, but that is not the purpose of this post. For you, it will be a process of budget and due diligence to acquire the appropriate setup for your live content needs. As time progresses, and technology adopts the notion that more and more consumers and audience participants are going to demand real-time content, so will become the ease in which to do so as well as the products in which they’re done with.
Keep it live!