With the introduction of the internet, organizations have been in a race to see who can disseminate information first. More recently, social media has revolutionized how businesses interact with their respective audiences. Before social media, if an individual wanted to share a positive or negative experience with a company, he or she would have to contact them online or by mail. However, social media has simplified this process by allowing the individual to tag the organization in a post. This quick engagement has drastically altered how social media is used by professional industries and individuals.
Right when establishments were mastering the use of social media and how to strategically use each network, a new platform has been introduced: live streaming. Twitter’s acquisition of Periscope placed it at the forefront, although Facebook popularized live streaming when it introduced Facebook Live in April 2016. Facebook’s massive number of users, along with the increasing number of smartphones and reliable data speeds, contributed to its success. Furthermore, Facebook Live offered a way to track viewer’s reactions either by selecting from five different emoticon reactions or by submitting comments in real-time.
Live streaming allows users to share moments and experiences with their followers in real-time. But before joining the live streaming revolution, a company’s communications team needs to understand what warrants the use of live streaming and what benefits does it have when interacting with their target. The best way to answer these questions is to observe how other entities have used live streaming.
During the presidential elections, NowThis, an online news network, used live streaming to air the debates. Out of curiosity, I viewed the second presidential debate via Facebook Live. Throughout the debate, people voiced their opinions in the form of comments or emoticon reactions. This real-time feedback is a goldmine of data for a news establishment because it provides insights to determine where on the political spectrum viewers are leaning towards. A presidential election warrants the use of live streaming because what the candidates discuss will have a direct impact on the lives of the spectators and voters.
Large corporations can also use live streaming to reach employees in real-time and to share essential information with associates. One company to have used live streaming was Walmart. In June 2016, Walmart live streamed its shareholder’s meeting on multiple social media networks. This allowed Walmart to bring the meeting to multiple audiences in different cities all at the same time. Furthermore, an extra benefit is that by live streaming the meeting, Walmart is giving behind-the-scenes access to its associates, making the company more personable because live streaming is raw and unedited. This prevents Walmart from only selecting the best moments of the meeting and only sharing those moments with its associates.
Live streaming was successfully used in these examples because it broadcasted appealing and worthy content. Events such as conferences, tradeshows, or speaking engagements are great opportunities for organizations that want to implement live streaming as part of its communication strategy.
A smaller firm or business can use live streaming for Q&A sessions, product demos, or to offer behind-the-scenes opportunities. Small business can engage its respective audience in real-time and the feedback will be instantaneous. These responses are a great benefit for smaller establishments because it can help them reevaluate their communication strategies and tweak them accordingly.
Since live streaming is new, industries are still learning how to implement it into their overall communication plans. A rule of thumb to determine if live streaming is good for your business is to ask how it will benefit the overall mission of the company and if this content is worthy enough to share.