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For the third Friday in a row I joined Brian on Blab to talk some SMAC for the podcast and the community. I don’t do a lot of live streaming individually but I’ve been taking part in a lot of collaborative sessions on blab lately and was happy to fill a square again.
I’ve seen a lot of self promoters out in the live streaming world promoting themselves or just making noise. What Brian and I really want to dive into today is what live streaming can really do to help businesses succeed.
Brian points out that in order for any platform to gain traction, it needs early adopters – even those who are just talking about themselves, their lives and so on. But, “All new technology needs marketers to embrace it,” he points out and this brings us to the heart of our discussion.
The first thing businesses will have to do in order to leverage live streaming for their benefit is to embrace the new medium and technology. It’s not so much about the various platforms themselves as the new conduit for storytelling and communicating with their communities.
I recall when I first started using Twitter. It was like sitting in a room chatting with people all day long. It was fun but then over years we as marketers honed in on ways to use the platform more strategically. We learned how to grow our reach and our following. As Twitter became busier and more saturated we began using automation and scaling our engagement in accordance with the demands on our time. Now we might think it’s not as much fun but it’s been a maturity curve. It can still be fun but we are using it as a distribution platform in many cases. This is change.
Consider our smartphone usage over the past decade. The things we can (and do) make happen with our smartphones now compared to a few years ago are very different. Brian points out that with technology “Not only is it how you’re using it today but it’s how you’re going to use it tomorrow and not forgetting what got you there….” How we use platforms is a continuous change.
Live Streaming’s B2B Value Proposition
“If you just get on live streaming or any platform and you just start talking at people… and everyone wants to try to be a celebrity, I think you are missing a lot of the point and the value here,” I say. I think the most valuable Blabs, for instance, are those that involve discourse on air. We’ve injected new enthusiasm into our #CloudTalk hour each week by having the Twitter community and the Blab community participating in tandem. If brands could start to embrace the idea of partnering with their customers and employees to talk about their experiences, imagine what good storytelling could happen. It’s a powerful idea.
Brian adds that the fundamental difference between something like a polished, well produced podcast and a podcast recording like this one with us in the Blab community is essentially the difference between having people consume your content and having people participate in it. Use cases run the gamut from interviews, Q & A sessions, behind the scenes and more. With live streaming the audience can actually participate with questions, comments and so on. Why not allow and encourage this?
“We want to do a better job of talking about our business… I can’t tell of you one CEO, CMO, marketing VP who doesn’t have a strategic priority to have their employees and customers start to tell their story,” I say. And live streaming makes this user generated storytelling so much easier than ever before. You can get your customers talking about your brand, your story and your business in ways that were never possible before. The emphasis need not be on products and services. Businesses should lean into things like events, things of interest to the market, etc. and then associate their brands with those.
Because the B2B sector is more saturated with content, it makes attention grabbing and storytelling even harder. Live streaming is a great way for a business to accomplish this and distinguish itself. Businesses can provide insights to their communities that they’ve never been able to share before. Brian says to do this with the “Think Like a Fan” mentality. Live streaming doesn’t mean there’s no strategy or call to action. A great live stream comes from its value and engagement. Businesses should give their customers, employees and communities these things in order to build great stories and, by extension, great reputations.
Live streaming from events is an easy and powerful way for brands to get out into their communities. Showing behind the scene, providing access to watch or ask questions of keynote speakers and giving people a glimpse of things to which they wouldn’t normally have access are all great ways to grow and retain a community. It’s about connecting your digital audience with your offline event audience. Businesses can empower influencers to live stream as their advocates. Storytelling from influential members of the community gives a brand more reach and credibility.
Brian says the future of business is community and I say the future of business is experience. But really there’s interdependence. PR will change because of all of this. Businesses can now become their own channels. The entire process of creating and disseminating messaging is easier than ever before. Get real people in front of real people in a way that’s not only live but can be edited and distributed with ease.
Transparency, Storytelling and Community
The refrain from many businesses right now is “We need to be more transparent.” What could be more transparent than jumping onto a live stream to share a message or useful information with your customers? It’s live, it’s raw and it’s easy to do. No one says, “What will this logo tell me today?” But people do love to see and hear what actual human beings from a beloved brand have to say. This is the difference between talking at people with content and talking with people by engaging directly.
Regarding the idea that live streaming is for the egotistical or that there’s a gap in value, “It’s not vanity if you’re actually bringing value. If you’re helping people learn about something that they need to know about, that’s good marketing,” if you ask me. That’s value. And value is what builds community and experiences. It comes back to doing great things for other people. There’s power in the immediacy and the storytelling facilitated by live streaming.
Content marketing started so that brands and individuals could convey their messages. I admit I’m one who blogs frequently. But with the live streaming mechanism available to us all, why not take advantage? Why not tell those stories and make those connections now? Focus on a philosophy, have a strategy and then pick a platform and connect with your audience.
Brands, get your people out in front! Let them tell your story.
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