If you’ve been on Facebook any time in the past six months, you’ve probably seen a new feature they’ve been promoting rather aggressively: Facebook Live, a live-streaming video option available for both individuals and brands, alike. (In fact, the social networking giant wants you to use this functionality so badly, they’ve even begun running television ads for it.)

Even though Facebook is making a big splash with live-streaming, it’s not a new concept. Thanks to Facebook, however, it’s now being viewed much more relevant and easy to deploy as a native content type, enabling immediate broadcasting and engagement opportunities, with the click of a single button – no muss, no fuss.

But why is live-streaming worth the effort? And how do you get started?

Build Trust

Fundamentally, people by from brands (and people) they trust. So social networks like Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram, that offer the capability to either live-stream – or share video content in a “live-ish” fashion to be played on-demand by followers at a later time – have created an environment of apparent transparency.

For instance, live-streaming videos that show consumers a behind-the-scenes process you follow, your experience at an event or a spur-of-the-moment inspired message builds trust. That’s because, when executed effectively, they (a) humanize your brand and (b) provide a “behind the scenes” look at how you do what you do.

Moreover, due to the fact that many of these live-streaming videos have lower production values by design, content presented in this format can seem less manufactured or scripted.

It’s Expected (and Accessible)

With video quickly becoming a staple in marketing strategies, consumers now expect to see video as part of the mix of content you present when they visit your website, read a blog or follow you on social media. That means, if you’re not using video now, some of your prospects may already be wondering why you aren’t doing it – so you should start immediately.

But don’t panic if feel like you’re behind the curve. Live-streaming is as accessible, as it is popular. The cost is low – or even nonexistent, depending on how you use it – and it’s easy to use.

If you have time and a smartphone, you’re on your way! That being said, live-streaming can be a gateway drug if you’re starting at this point. The traction you get with live video will open Pandora’s box and you’re going to be asking yourself “How can I do more video?”

Instant Feedback

One of the best perks of live-streaming is the instant gratification you get, when it comes to engagement. When you broadcast a live video on Facebook, for example, not only get to show your followers what you’re doing right in that moment, you’re also able to get feedback instantly and continuously, even after you stop streaming.

There are few things in the inbound world that can offer that immediate gratification, and you can use this to your advantage to test out any theories or content experiments. Pick a discussion point that you haven’t tested the popularity of and talk about it live. Give immediate feedback at an industry event you’re attending. Snag a coworker for an impromptu interview session.

In any context, followers can share their reactions with you or comment in real time, allowing you to know what sparked their interest or what drive them to react to your content. It’s the ultimate sandbox.

Easily Shared

When you create a video live, more often than not, it will be shared – either by the viewers themselves or, if you’re on Facebook, through automatically generated notifications to those who follow your brand.

Of course, people can share your more traditional content, but a live video is much more digestible and transferable, with a tangible impact on your bottom line. Consumers who watch a video are 1.81 times more likely to make a purchase. In addition, views of videos on Facebook specifically doubled from a whopping 4 billion views per day to 8 billion views per day.

On the other hand, the outcomes of a live video can be more unpredictable than traditional content, and this can be good or bad. Something spontaneous and authentic could happen unexpectedly that will make your video go viral – which is fantastic for brand awareness, but can also be a bit of a PR problem, if you’re like Apple during the iPhone 6 launch.

How to Get Started

So now that you understand the value live-streaming can create, how do you dive into it for your own business?

First and foremost, you need a plan.

Without a plan, you’ll not only create potential issues for the live broadcast itself, you’ll also be committing a cardinal marketing sin: haphazardly leveraging a powerful tool without a thoughtful strategy behind it. So start off on the right foot by making some fundamental decisions about how and when you’ll use live-streaming, as well as who you’re trying to reach.

However, when we say, “you need a plan,” we don’t mean that you should overproduce your content or rely on heavy scripting. Live-streaming is all about being natural and is intended to create a transparent and authentic look into your organization. With too much staging, you’ll probably come off as scripted and rehearsed.

Also, while it is important to have a strategy, don’t be afraid to be flexible. Be open to the feedback you receive from those who engage with you. Leave room for opportunities to be in-the-moment.

Once you have some governing parameters in place, you can explore the different types of live-streaming videos you can create.


If you have a product or service that’s difficult to explain through text, live video is a fantastic way to convey your message and explain how something works in a real-life scenario. You can share information about your process, what makes your product or service unique, or take an objective look at your industry.


Answering all of your customers’ questions at once and live is a great way to build trust and spread awareness. The advantage here is that your followers are able to ask questions in real time, which makes your answers genuine and more credible.

Not only that, as a bonus you’ll gain invaluable insight into what your customers are thinking, as well as what concerns or questions they may have. (A great way to validate your assumptions or learn something unexpected.)

Special Announcements

Live video is also a great way to make an important announcement – kind of like a live, breaking news alert one might see on television. Live announcements about products, company news or any other big changes on the horizon can make your viewers feel like they have exclusive access to special news – and they are the first to know.

Don’t forget, you can build buzz, leading up to any large, live-streaming announcements with social media and email promotion. Just remember not to overdo it – because nothing is “breaking news” if everything is “breaking news.”

Live Events

If your company attends a lot of events, showing exclusive behind-the-scenes footage from those events and sharing the knowledge you gain immediately is a great way for your followers to stay in the know on the latest trends, while also putting your expertise and insights on display.

Final Thought

The key with live-streaming, as with any other tool in your marketing toolbox, is to use it as part of a larger strategy that includes other types of content and avenues of promotion. But before you start figuring out how to shoehorn it into what you’re already doing, you need to take a long, hard look at the behavior of your target personas.

For example, which social networks are they on, if any? Do they even like video? The answers to these questions can not only draw you a roadmap of how, when and where to use (or not use) live-streaming, it can also show you whether it’s worth exploring at all.

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