Back in early January, my colleague Don wrote about Twitter adding native video to tweets. I, like many of us, thought something akin to Vine would be Twitter’s direction. Pre-recorded snippets uploaded to Twitter, embedded into a user’s Twitter feed. But Twitter did us one better, and really embraced their identity as a live-stream of user-created content, and purchased Periscope. Periscope is an app that allows a user to stream video to others, live, from their phones. Since it’s been purchased by Twitter, it has become the official live-streaming app of Twitter.
The marketing world was set ablaze by Periscope because they recognize its potential as a channel for spreading a message, generating outreach, and fostering discussion. A Tweet is 140 characters, which is a good couple handfuls of words. A picture, as it’s been said, is worth 1000 words. A live-streaming video, which is later available on-demand, has the potential to generate more discussion than anything you could previously put out on Twitter.
But how do you best use it?
The general rules for generating engagement on Twitter will largely carry over to live video. But some tweaks will be needed, because of the live aspect of the service.
As always, timing is key. When planning your social media, you need to know when your audience will be most likely to be engaged by it. There are general rules for each social media channel that will serve well most of the time. But you should definitely be aware of your audience’s engagement. One last bit to keep in mind, depending upon your audience, is when most of them will be most available to watch your live video. Don’t stream when we have morning meetings!
Because of the watch-it-or-miss-it nature of live video, you’ll want to announce in advance any planned live streams. Sure, Periscope lets people revisit old videos for nearly a day. But when it comes to live videos, people want to see it live. They get to be among the first to see something, and therefore first into the conversation. The people who want to watch your content live are the ones who will want to talk about it the most– they will be the most engaged. So let your followers know in advance that you’ll be streaming, to maximize your audience.
As with anything, the hook is key. You’re live streaming, and that will be enough for some of your followers to want to watch. Others will ask the big question: why should I watch? Are you doing something amazing? Teasing an anticipated product? Doing a Q&A? When you announce your stream, you need to give your followers a reason to tune in.
The most effective hooks for a live video stream will be those which take most advantage of the format. So show, don’t tell. Do things on Periscope that are best done on video, and not effectively done otherwise. Stream a process, for example. Are you a bakery? Live-tweeting your breadmaking will not be engaging. Stream a snippet of yourself preparing your most famous menu item and you’ll get your followers mouths watering. Are you a theater? Solid behind-the-scenes snippets will get those followers not in your theater to seriously consider buying tickets. Twitter is great for telling; live-streaming video is a way to show. Leverage that.
There’s more that goes into optimal leveraging of the live video platform. But proper timing, effective hooks, and showing-over-telling are the three most important guidelines to keep in mind. Effectively leveraging live video streaming can pay off big, so don’t be afraid to dive in.
Not down with Periscope? Try these.
There are, of course, other live video streaming apps. For iPhone, Meerkat was the de-facto king of live video streaming until Periscope got picked up by Twitter. Unfortunately, neither Meerkat nor Periscope are available for Android devices. But there are very capable apps, in the form of stre.am and Tarsii. Neither are officially backed by Twitter, but stre.am has made a pretty good impression on me so far. Unfortunately I have no recommendations for Windows Phone, so if you know of any, or have any other comments, please email me!