It’s no secret that the way brands are trying to deliver messages to consumers has dramatically changed over the past decade. Years ago, I delivered a session to a standing-room-only crowd at SXSW discussing the rise of “un-advertising,” where I documented the collapse of the traditional mass media.
Social media introduced two-way communication between companies and their customers, and it has given rise to the importance of an ongoing content marketing strategy. But the rise of digital video — and especially live video — is further evolving content marketing and bringing fundamental changes to customer engagement and messaging.
Facebook Live created mass excitement when it launched as brands tried to figure out how to handle this new live medium. Facebook has now shifted its video darling status to highly produced video programming as it tries to outflank Netflix and Amazon Prime, but live content has found other ways to succeed both within and outside its walls. One recent opinion hailed Facebook Live as the “New QVC” — a modern showcase for brand-customer interaction, new products and awareness.
Live video is becoming much more than this, though. Brands are figuring out ways to modernize their entire go-to-market process and using live video as an agile way to bring content to audiences. Content marketing is being transformed from static written and designed documents and slide presentations into live video “run of show” outlines, and on-camera hosts and guests are becoming more in demand instead of writers and designers.
Live video brings with it the authenticity of unscripted conversations with product experts or influencers, along with the ability to do live demonstrations and create honest reactions and interactions with the audience. Since it’s digital, it can be consumed on any screen and anywhere, bringing the product or spokesperson directly to the consumer.
Live video also allows the audience to interact with the on-camera experience by making comments and asking questions that could be addressed by the presenters. This participatory element is what makes it more of a “content conversation” instead of simply content marketing.
Whether it is sales training for a new product coming to market or a live commerce demonstration to customers, live video is changing the sales interaction from what can be a pushy experience to one that feels like the audience is equal and part of the conversation.
The other major evolution in live video is the ability to own and operate it on your own channels. While Facebook and Twitter make it easy to reach your followers on their platforms, users are typically watching only for a few seconds, which is hardly a win for a content marketer.
Even if these platforms provide access to a wide number of consumers, this same audience is easy to lose with the next shiny object in their news feed. That doesn’t mean you should avoid them, though. It’s just more advisable to host live video events on your own digital destinations and simulcast them to multiple platforms to expand your content’s reach to all of your audiences.
A mixed strategy of social media sites — combined with your owned-and-operated site where live videos can sit with direct access to product sales pages — is vital to growing a more engaged audience. Consumers are more trusting of content marketing when it’s delivered in a premium environment. A brand’s own site, with links to the products being discussed or demonstrated, helps deliver a more end-to-end content marketing experience.
Live video also puts a wider customer base within reach for any business, large or small. The internet helped make smaller businesses less local, but they still must consider budgetary constraints with traditional advertising and marketing tactics. Heavily produced sales collateral needs to be properly funded and distributed, and once it’s printed, the content is frozen and no longer agile.
But live video becomes the great equalizer. Quality live video production isn’t necessarily free, but it’s less time- and resource-intensive than the alternatives. Creativity doesn’t need to be expensive to create excitement and buzz. (Think BuzzFeed’s exploding watermelon live segment.)
The equipment needed to go live need not be expensive, and can now be done with a smartphone alone. This opens the door for any brand’s content marketing to get out there live — with the right touch and an understanding of current and potential customers’ key issues and questions. That dynamic rewards the savviest marketers, rather than just the ones willing to spend the most on getting the message out there.
Now that the holiday shopping season has ended, consumers will be bombarded with messages from all over the Web. Any social media site you’ve visited since the start of November has probably tried to hawk products to you through retargeting and in-feed sponsored messages.
Live video is putting a modern and exciting spin on content marketing in many positive ways. As companies discover the many internal and external benefits that live video offers, with its agile, authentic content delivery impact, the skill sets within marketing and sales teams will accelerate; you’ll see behind-the-scenes introverts evolving to become on-camera warm, confident and dynamic personalities.
As marketers plan their 2018 marketing plans, they have an opportunity to once again redefine how audiences consume influential content. Consider investing in “content conversations” with live video instead of one-way content marketing plans.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.