Following its announcement last summer and months of work refining the experience, YouTube has started rolling out live streaming on smartphones for creators with more than 10,000 subscribers.
“Big deal!” you might say. Facebook, Periscope and Instagram have made it seem normal to watch our friends showcasing their lives in real time and see news events unfold live. So why should I care that YouTube has now joined the party?
At first glance you might be right because after all, live streaming on YouTube is nothing new. At TVC, we’ve been doing it for years for some of our clients, including a recent livestreamed global reveal of the new Jaguar Land Rover Discovery.
But the big difference and the big deal about this latest YouTube venture is the new take on story angles that can be included in your content distribution plan. Given that 2017 is shaping up to be the year of micro-influencers (talented and passionate creators with between 10,000 and 100,000 followers), this new service gives brands the opportunity to cover stories from multiple angles, and with multiple narrators.
Let’s face it, full brand control on social channels is an illusion but social media companies are going to continue to move towards a model that makes it possible for their users to stream video directly to their friends and followers. Brands which are willing to improvise and adapt will thrive in this ever-changing model of engagement, but letting go of curation is hard (and for some brands it is technically impossible). Embracing the ‘live social’ economy will be the difference between thriving or stagnating for most consumer brands over the coming years.
If we mix all of the above with the fact that in the last week YouTube has also dropped a new feature called Super Chat (a paid comments scheme effectively), this will make the whole live streaming affair incredibly exciting for marketers, who can instantly invite millions of consumers, who already use YouTube on mobile, to have a direct conversation with them at the touch of a button. Whether it is a Q&A session or live broadcasting from a launch event, this new mobile feature offers an authentic way for clients (via creators) to truly engage with their followers.
Here are my three top tips for brands wanting to make the most of this groundbreaking YouTube feature.
Embrace the authenticity
There is still something quite exciting about the idea of watching content live, as if we are bridging space and time. With this new feature across YouTube mobile platform, brands and creators can trigger some real buzz amongst the nearly 15 million mobile daily viewers. If I was to tell you: “Tune in tonight at 8pm to watch our latest project about such and such”, most people will probably think they catch up on it when they have time, and will watch it only if reminded. But if I said: “Join us on YouTube in 30 mins to watch a live stream of our talk about such and such…” things get more exciting. Brands can really trigger enthusiasm in consumers and core advocates. Expectation can also be built on the assumption that live stream implies imperfections and authentic content, therefore something can go wrong. An unedited, unfiltered brand experience will feel more genuine and inherently more real.
Make it a two-way conversation
The future is powerful for brands which can adapt quickly by becoming more human and embracing the culture of “letting go”. As scary as it is, opening up channels with customers while they are watching live content means tapping directly into consumers who truly want to connect with you.
Focus on milestones
By working with influencers and buddying up with content creators a brand can build a series of moments, connecting with groups and communities that are much more connected. Collaboration in the era of live streaming helps advertisers create more tangible content, and much more realistic conversations with consumers.
My biggest piece of advice when it comes to mobile live streaming is: learn to walk before you run. I would strongly recommend brands taking the content creation route gradually but with a test and try approach. One thing that is certain is this latest release from YouTube proves yet again that where we distribute content is as important as what we say.
Nico Sarti is head of digital strategy and joined in November 2016 to enhance the creative content specialist's growing strategy and planning offering. He was formerly head of digital at Inkling and digital director at Mission Media.