Due to social distancing requirements, shelter-in-place and stay-at-home orders during the COVID-19 pandemic, people have been craving face-to-face interaction like never before. In turn, influencers, marketers and consumers alike have turned to more interactive formats on social media, such as Instagram Live, Facebook Live, YouTube Live and Twitch, seeking authenticity, connection and relatability.
Let’s face it. In today’s day and age, shopping, shaking hands, and social media don’t quite look the same as they did a few months ago. As brands continue to navigate the COVID-19 climate and whatever lies beyond it, facilitating connection through live streaming formats will remain a useful tool for marketers to leverage. But what they might not know is that leaning on influencers as creators of connection is the key to scaling live streaming content in a meaningful way.
We will discuss how marketers can use the trusted voice of influencers to bring their brand to life on various live streaming formats, how to balance control with authentic content during sponsored streams and why live streaming content will remain a valuable tactic for marketers to explore long-term.
Live Streaming: Trusted Voice of Influencers
Live streaming is not a new or particularly cutting-edge tactic on social media. Live streaming functionalities have been available on most social media networks for years, with Instagram Live launching in 2016, Periscope making its debut in 2015, and Twitch being founded back in 2011. Yet it took the COVID-19 pandemic to turn everyone’s attention to live streaming content at scale and understand the true power of these formats for both personal and commercial use.
With the clear demand for authenticity from brands, raw and genuine video content has grown in favorability among consumers. 80 percent of consumers now say that they’d rather watch a live video with real footage than read a company’s polished blog or scroll through a curated social feed. Raw, unedited video makes customers feel more connected to brands, and by leveraging the trusted voice of an influencer, brands are able to interject themselves naturally in a conversation and establish a meaningful relationship with their target consumer. With users watching live video 10-20 times longer than traditional content, live streaming has become a powerful way for marketers to create the content people want to consume, build trust with their customers and reach their target audiences for exorbitantly longer periods of time.
There are countless reasons for why brand marketers should experiment with live streaming content, but there are three primary reasons why influencers, in particular, can help bring a brand to life through live streaming content:
- Marketers Can Activate Influencers Quickly and Cheaply: Due to the relaxed nature of live streaming, influencers and marketers are able to pull together a concept quickly and at a fairly low cost. In a recent survey to 300 Mavrck influencers, creators with an average of 30,000 followers on Instagram charged ~$400 per 30-minute live stream. Working with influencers to create sponsored live streaming content is a cost-efficient way to reach your audience in real-time.
- Marketers Can Drive Brand Loyalty With Trusted Content: Consumers who tune into an influencer’s sponsored live stream are guaranteed to engage thoughtfully with the content that is being produced. Work with trusted influencers to generate unedited, raw video content that provides transparency to consumers and builds brand loyalty, recognition, and positive reputation.
- Marketers Can Access Your Target Consumer In Real-time: Live streaming is a powerful way for brands to harness the attention of their target consumer for an extended period of time, particularly when the viewer has opted into this live experience voluntarily. Reach and captivate your target consumer in real-time with the use of influencers, who have a hyper-engaged audience composed of a brand’s target consumer.
Getting Started: 3 Major Best Practices
The truth is that “going live” is scary at first, for everyone, but especially for brands. The unpredictable nature of live streaming is what makes it both intimidating and powerful. Anything can happen.
However, Mavrck is educating enterprise brands on standard live streaming best practices to ensure a successful sponsored live streaming campaign with influencers. Live streaming campaign success and scale can be easily achieved with a little strategy, the right influencers, the appropriate social network, and intentional content.
There are three major best practices to consider when developing your sponsored live streaming strategy with influencers:
- Leverage Influencer Insights & Research: Have influencers gather insights from their audiences prior to going live to understand what their audience needs, what they want to see, and how they want to connect with your brand during the live stream. Leverage Instagram polls and Q&A tools to drive your strategy and topics. Be sure to consult influencers when developing live streaming content and always encourage influencers to purposefully engage their chat throughout the live event.
- Focus on Earned Media, Not Sales: Instead of focusing on driving sales during a live stream, focus on authentically connecting and engaging with your target consumer. Live streams are an opportunity for people to experience your brand via earned media. Success metrics should be measured in positive audience engagement and sentiment, which will have long-term benefits for brand loyalty and purchase intent.
- Be Intentional & Strategic: Audiences are experiencing a “live overload,” with 53% of influencers going live more frequently since COVID-19, as seen from our recent survey with Mavrck influencers. Here are a few key strategic takeaways to keep in mind:
- Be intentional with your live strategy.
- Choose the right influencers and the right platform to host your content on.
- Make sure creators are transparent about disclosing partnerships within live formats.
- Plan out the most engaging content, be explicit to influencers about your expectations of the stream, and make sure they communicate what viewers can expect.
- Promote your live events prior to the date as you would for in-person events to generate viewership and attendance.
- Always evaluate and optimize your strategy to find what works for your brand when it comes to live streaming content.
Simply put, the recipe for a successful live stream is a thick layer of thoughtful execution sprinkled with authentic connection. Brands who leverage the trusted voice of influencers and the depth of insights they have about their target consumer can create valuable live streaming content, provide an opportunity for people to experience their brand in a meaningful way and have their products, core values and personality come to life authentically.
If you are interested in learning more about how to brief influencers for live streaming campaigns, be sure to check out our recent blog post, Instagram Live Videos: How To Brief Influencers, plus review Mavrck’s Live Streaming Capabilities Deck for recommendations and guidelines covering before, during and after the live streaming activation on each major social network.
Strike A Balance: Creative Freedom & Content Control
As more live streaming content becomes available, the more selective viewers will be when choosing which content to consume. Live streaming content that feels authentic, raw and entertaining to watch will receive higher engagement and perform better than live streaming content that feels inauthentic, scripted, or dull.
When working on sponsored live streaming campaigns, influencers need creative freedom to maintain the genuine, authentic content that will encourage viewership and engagement throughout the stream. On the other hand, marketers need to ensure they are implementing the necessary amount of control that comes with partnering with creators to produce sponsored content on social media.
The key to a successful live streaming campaign is striking a healthy balance between creator freedom and content control, which can be easily achieved with clear influencer communication, creative briefs and contractual agreements, as well as strong influencer relationships. Much like working with influencers to produce a YouTube video or a blog post, marketers launching live streaming campaigns should provide a clear campaign brief, require a contractual agreement, request a draft to approve prior to an influencer going live and work with creators they trust.
- A creative brief and contractual agreement will enable brands to share important information, do’s and don’ts, key messaging and requirements, as well as feel more secure in their partnership when it comes to their expectations of the live stream.
- Approving a draft will allow influencers to share their general thoughts, strategy and approach for their live streaming event, including date, time, location, guests, major talking points and ideas for how to get the chat engaged.
- Working with creators you trust, such as influencers you have activated in the past or who have had other live streaming experience, will allow brands to feel more at-ease during a live streaming campaign.
Due to the live, unpredictable nature of live streaming content, marketers can shy away from this interactive format for sponsored content. But with consumers demanding this type of format, marketers are challenged to navigate ways to work with creators in this capacity. Marketers that approach live streaming with a strategy, work with creators to align on their approach and focus on delivering meaningful content will drive value and growth for their brand. As with any calculated risk, there is a huge reward.
Embrace The Unknown: Bring Your Brand to Life
Some marketers might be wondering if live streaming is a trendy fad or if it will make its way into every brand’s marketing plan in 2021. In a recent survey with 300+ Mavrck influencers, 90% of respondents believe that the production and consumption of live streaming content will continue to trend upward, even past the COVID-19 pandemic. We believe the biggest hindrance of live streaming content is the fear of the unknown. But as more and more brands, influencers, and consumers experiment with live streaming and understand best practices, we’re seeing an increased demand for this format.
As the world evolves, the brands who have chosen to pivot their approach and make a connection with their consumers during these uncertain times will be better off because of it. Mavrck is working closely with customers to demonstrate transparency, facilitate relationships, understand best practices, and enable brand loyalty through the trusted voice of influencers in live streaming campaigns.
Book a demo with our team of award-winning, expert strategists to bring your live streaming campaign to life.