Note: Blab officially closed down on August 12, 2016 and thus its contents have been removed from this blog post.
I previously blogged about leveraging live streaming for content marketing, something that has only become more popular since then with the ever-increasing buzz around Periscope and more recently Blab. Now it’s time to take a broad view of your live streaming marketing options in light of the growth of these new platforms.
Note: If you’v read this far and are looking for a primer on live streaming, read this guide on what is live streaming.
Live streaming is certainly nothing new, as Ustream has been streaming video since 2007, long before YouTube started supporting live streaming in 2011. Compared to Ustream’s 50 million unique monthly visitors, competitor Livestream claims to have 40 million monthly viewers. What is amazing is that Twitch.tv, the popular video game live streaming site, claimed to have had 100 million unique viewers in 2014. Clearly a lot of eyeballs are already on live streaming, and brands and celebrities have been utilizing them for almost a decade now. If you haven’t started live streaming marketing yet, you’ve already been missing out. Yet, you now have more options than ever. If you haven’t looked at the above options so far, I recommend you read this post on the top 3 livestream service providers mentioned above.
Google Plus Hangouts on Air was the first major live streaming service that was born in the era of social media marketing. Similar to the buzz surrounding Periscope, Blab, et. al. today, a similar excitement was generated then by the ability to not only have group video conversations with anyone in the world, but for brands to use live streaming for a variety of live streaming marketing purposes. The ability to easily archive and publish the recorded videos on YouTube was an added content marketing benefit.
All of the above platforms are still good options for your live streaming marketing platform. So what is new in live streaming marketing with these newer platforms like Periscope? They were all created as 2nd generation live streaming platforms with mobile in mind and a very easy to use user interface. They also have social media functionality built into them from the onset, increasing the potential for both more quickly building your following as well as viral spread in social media.
Let’s analyze them one-by-one and get a feel for the advantages and disadvantages for using each of the new platforms:
Meerkat – The present boom of live streaming, like so many other trends, began with its “coming out” at SXSW. In Meerkat’s case this was at SXSW in March, 2015. Although it now offers some integration with Facebook, Meerkat made it easy for anyone to start live streaming from their mobile device simply by logging in through Twitter, and Twitter was also leveraged for sending out notifications to alert one’s followers – and in doing so grow Meerkat’s viral footprint on Twitter. In their initial month, they were successful in doing this, registering more than 160,000 downloads. In fact, they were so successful at doing this that Twitter decided it was in their best interest to have their own integrated live streaming service and thus bought out Periscope.
Meerkat isn’t dead, and actually has some innovations that Periscope doesn’t have, such as Facebook as well as GoPro integration. But as the below Google Trends comparison suggests, the Meerkat community has been dwarfed by the growing popularity of Periscope.
Periscope – There was a time when there was a big battle between the then “new” live stream darlings of Meerkat and Periscope, but clearly Periscope has won the war. One stat suggests that Periscope might have as many as 10 times the number of users that Meerkat has. While similar in functionality, Periscope offers two distinct advantages from a technological perspective, above and beyond its tight integration with Twitter, when compared to Meerkat: 1) Viewers can watch streams that were recorded within the last 24 hours, giving your broadcasts more viewers and 2) Broadcasters can see some analytics about their broadcasts, including a complete list of all users who engaged with them for potential follow up, as seen in a sample screenshot before. Needless to say, if you’re trying to decide on a mobile live streaming platform, Periscope should be your first choice at the present.
Facebook Mentions – Facebook Mentions is only available to public figures with verified Facebook pages or profiles, so it will only be possible right now for celebrities to use this option. Why does it exist then? So that Facebook can compete with the other live streaming options on this page, of course! However, should Facebook allow anyone to use this platform, it will become the default live streaming platform for Facebook in a much more controlling way than Periscope is for Twitter. Keep an eye out for this one!
Facebook Mentions allows an unparalleled level of engagement with your audience on Facebook. If you receive an invite to participate, don’t walk—run!—to set up your first live broadcast. – Chad Abbott, Abbson Live
At the end of the day, whether you use YouTube, Ustream, Livestream, Google Plus Hangouts on Air, Periscope, Meerkat, Facebook Mentions, Blab, or a white label or proprietary system, you will have to make a choice as to what platform you use to deliver your message to what community. You also need to consider the technology being used.
Different platforms will carry different technical requirements and audience different expectations for quality. For example, getting started on Periscope is as simple as having an iPhone, but the stakes are a lot higher on Livestream.com, where many broadcasters have $100,000 TV-quality studios. – Chad Abbott, Abbson Live
What is more important, though, is less about the platform and more about your objective for live streaming marketing. Clearly repurposing your live streaming for content marketing is the no-brainer objective for any brand, but for any company wishing to bride the gap between their brand and their fans, there is a huge potential for realtime engagement in the most powerful of mediums that is video.
Content is king, and live video is the king of content. – Chad Abbott, Abbson Live
The challenge will be in finding a formula to allows you to reach your objective in a way that also allows you to build up and manage expectations for your community. If you think about it, live streaming is as close to the “live news” as you can think of. If you can plan and schedule the content of your live streaming in advance on a regular basis like a television station does, you’re ready to fully leverage live streaming video for your marketing.
Has your company delved into the new world of lives streaming marketing options? What has your experience been so far?