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How Livestreaming Apps Can Help Build Your Brand

mcivinsEven though “appointment viewing” might sound like a bad Friars Club joke featuring a Peeping Tom and a doctor’s office, or even sound archaic thanks to something called the internet, the concept it represents is still very much alive due to the recent popularity of livestreaming apps. Appointment viewing hinges on the appeal of the content itself, and thanks to the spoiler-friendly world in which we all live, the idea that content should be seen as soon as possible is rendering that oversharing jerk of a co-worker totally ineffectual (looking at you, Seth P. in accounts receivable.)

If brands can count on compelling content and an equally die-hard and tech-savvy audience, the sky’s the limit. Last year Adidas used the Twitter-owned livestreaming app Periscope to broadcast Columbian soccer superstar James Rodriquez signing a contract with the brand, and even hosted a training session led by Leo Messi, which culminated in the soccer icon’s reaction to seeing his own branded Adidas sneakers for the first time. Sports lend themselves to appointment viewing since games happen, well, once, so fans are an ideal audience for thrilling reveals and events. Nike also used Periscope to announce sneaker launches for both the LeBron 13 and the Kobe XI, but doubled down on the latter by announcing a scavenger hunt in which 20 autographed pairs of the Kobe 11s were hidden in 20 cities around the world.

Last year, Taco Bell addressed its salivating social-savvy fans directly by announcing a free biscuit on Periscope to celebrate Cinco De Mayo. With a current Twitter following of 1.68 million, that’s a lot of potential viewers (and biscuits).

Concerts, premieres, and backstage access embrace appointment viewing with new applications in a handheld world. For example, Snapchat “stories” are essentially built on the concept of appointment viewing since users know that tuning in at specific times will afford them the most opportunities to engage with time-sensitive content. In fact, during last fall’s MTV Video Music Awards, 12 million Snapchat users watched the Live Story from the event ultimately surpassing the 9.9 million people who watched on TV, although there’s sure to be some overlap between those audiences. Users were treated to behind-the-scenes access with videos shared from the red carpet, and the time-sensitive nature of the content added to its exclusivity and appeal.

Classic livestreaming platforms like Livestream and Ustream encouraged social sharing to increase viewership, and now social media networks are inverting that dynamic by offering integrated livestreaming capabilities. With Periscope, Twitter is streaming videos in its newsfeed, while Facebook is now notifying users when certain pages are live. Throw in Snapchat with its video capabilities, and it’s clear that this new generation of social livestreaming platforms is reaffirming the importance of appointment viewing. With Facebook’s 1.44 billion monthly active users versus Twitter+Periscope’s 320 million, company the advantage is obvious: built-in audiences comprised of users’ friends and followers. And while Facebook’s size could give it an edge over Periscope, it could also be its flaw as younger, hipper users are likely to flee from a platform also used by nosy and/or meddling parents. Former rival Meerkat on the other hand is pretty much bested, in its current form anyway, as it announced recently it was unable to keep up with the competitors, and it would be pivoting to become more of a video social network.

Appointment viewing is ironically timeless and as powerful as the appointment itself. There’s only so much people are willing to do to see their favorite band, brand, or celebrities backstage. Take musical icon/fashion designer/celebrity rascal Kanye West who livestreamed the listening party (and apparel line premiere) for his new album “Life of Pablo” on Tidal, a music streaming platform of which he is also a co-investor. Given the ticketed event sold out in minutes, the demand proved that appointment viewing was completely warranted, and the crashed Tidal servers infuriating online audiences will second that emotion. According to a press release from Tidal, more than 20 million people livestreamed the event (or tried to anyway), making it the most streamed live event of all time, which, according to the International Business Times was “far more than the 3.3 million that tuned in to last fall’s Tidal X 1020 show last fall, or the average of 1.4 million people that watched Super Bowl 50. It would also lag behind the 32 million that watched the ‘League of Legends’ final in 2013.”

With all this in mind, how should brands go about incorporating the many livestreaming options out there into their digital campaigns?

Check your targeting
Brands need to be sure their targeted audience is the same one using the apps, and if the audience is there, brands need to know how users typically engage with content. Some advertisers might be comfortable with a reach/frequency strategy, while others may want to see more compelling engagement and specific behaviors. Snapchat reports that 13 to 34-year-olds view Live Stories on Snapchat up to eight times more than TV for similar events. With more than 5 billion video views every day on Snapchat and a growing user base, that’s a lot of video and a lot of opportunity.

Capitalize on seamless promotion
Tweets with embedded Periscope streams can be promoted just like any other tweet, and that familiarity is an asset. Brands have definitely been taking advantage, and packing newsfeeds full of video content could make it easier for Twitter to pitch agencies and brands on ads, but it could also dilute the value of what’s already there.

Authenticity to the environment is key
Truly understand the typical UX and how video functions on each app. Don’t just repurpose the same content you’d use for YouTube, and if you’re streaming live, make sure the experience is taking advantage of the apps’ features, such as chatting to enable live audience participation.

Identify opportunities to repurpose content
Livestreaming apps differ on how long content lives publicly, so be aware of places where content could survive and thrive post-stream. For example, our company, Beeby Clark+Meyler worked with GE its annual report to investors in a banner ad campaign, likely making it the first company to do so.

So unless you’re Kanye West who can hold fans hostage by releasing an album on a platform you co-own (and then take it down), brands should consider all the parameters because the moment the experience starts to sound like a stretch, it probably is. And that goes for all the less famous MC’s, too (yours truly included — my name is Michael Civins).

This article originally appeared in iMedia Connection.

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