Live streaming video—via popular apps such as Meerkat and Periscope—lets you connect with prospects and customers by providing access to your business as it happens. One expert described it as "video Twitter," but with immediacy and live action features that can be more engaging than text or static images.
But is streaming video right for your small business? How should it be integrated into your existing marketing efforts? What are some best practices? Alexis Amaral, the media coordinator for Strong Women Strong Girls, a Boston-based mentoring organization, suggests that small business owners ask themselves these questions:
1. What's the value to your small business?
Live streaming makes your content relatable to viewers because it unfolds in real time. It puts a human face on your business by giving them access to your operations behind the scenes. As you reveal more of what you do, how you do it, and the people responsible for driving your business, prospects are likely to trust you and be more willing to buy from you.
Both have similar features. According to Amaral, the main difference comes down to social media integrations. Periscope lets you link from your Twitter account—almost like embedding a live stream in your tweets—and also provides some metric reporting, such as the number of live viewers, viewer retention, and the frequency of video replays. Meerkat lets viewers watch streams from their Facebook account, but does not offer statistical reports.
3. What kind of videos should you stream?
Live streaming provides ways to bond with customers in compelling ways. "One great idea for live streaming is to show the process—whether that be cooking a meal or showing where donations are going," Amaral says. "This will leave them with a unique memory that will encourage them to choose you in the future." Live Q&As with your employees or outside experts can also draw them in.
4. What actions should be taken after the broadcast?
The content from the live stream can be saved and used later in other media channels, such as your blog posts or on your company website. Periscope lets you keep the video available for 24 hours after initial broadcast—providing more opportunities for building relationships with customers.
Whether your live stream gives useful tips, interviews, before and after demonstrations, new product announcements, or customer feedback on a favorite service, small businesses should consider experimenting with this tool for deep customer engagement.
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