Navigating the new waters of live content
As more social media platforms dive into live content, which channel should you focus on? Columnist Caitlin Jeansonne offers tips to help you develop a live-content strategy and decide which platform works best for your audience.
Following in the footsteps of Snapchat, Facebook Live and Periscope, Instagram in August released its own version of live content sharing in the form of “Stories.” The feature functions suspiciously like Snapchat, with content that displays to your followers for 10 seconds at a time and disappears after 24 hours. You can edit photos and videos by drawing on them, adding text or stickers, and even adding filters. Sound familiar, Snapchat users?
With multiple platforms offering live content features (and some being so similar), where should brands focus their resources? As you can’t stream from multiple platforms at once on a single device, do brands now need to set up separate devices for Facebook Live, Snapchat, Instagram Stories and Periscope for every important moment?
Probably not. So how should they outline and implement their live content platform strategy?
Live content strategy tips
Have a plan
- Determine your key audience and messages for each of your social channels, and fold your live content into that overall plan.
- Identify key moments where live content will provide value or entertainment to your followers, such as behind-the-scenes access or live coverage of an event. Can you share a sneak peek of something you’re working on? Or spotlight members of your team in a creative way?
- Script out key points and timing. Keep in mind that live content can (and should) be more casual than other social content; content that is too produced does not feel authentic on these platforms.
- When creating live content as part of a live event, make sure you plan in advance where your host will be set up and what aspects of the event you’re expecting them to cover.
Develop a platform strategy
- Each platform has a slightly different audience and style that lends itself to certain types of content. Determine what types of branded content you’ll create for each channel based on what feels the most native in that space.
- Revisit existing channel plans to make sure live content is incorporated. Make changes as needed so that you’re making the most of the newest live content tools.
- Don’t feel that you need to cover the same event in all of your channels. As with any social media content, give people a reason to follow you in multiple places by developing varying content that makes sense and is optimized for each channel.
- Be flexible. Snapchat is all about quick, live, organic, unproduced content, while Instagram has traditionally been about beautifully composed, curated images. The addition of Instagram Stories may shift the platform’s culture, so keep an eye on it in case you need to make adjustments.
- Assign a host for each of your live content pieces, and know what support they will need.
- If you plan to create live content from multiple channels, make sure someone is assigned to each channel.
Test and refine
- Live content gives you the opportunity to test new things. Get creative and replicate what works!
- Also, before you go live, test your audio and lighting to make sure viewing and your message are coming across without any distractions.
For brands that are active on Instagram but are still debating if Snapchat makes sense for them, Instagram Stories gives you the opportunity to take advantage of existing audiences and post live content in an authentic way. Instagram Stories may be particularly useful for brands that have an inconsistent flow of live content opportunities, and therefore don’t want to commit to a separate channel like Snapchat.
Instagram has a reputation for being a highly curated platform, with most brands posting there only once or twice a day. For our clients, we recommend posting no more than a few times per day unless we are in the middle of a key event. Live content, however, can be shared multiple times per day without overwhelming user feeds.
Another potential benefit of Instagram Stories — right now, at least — is that content shows up at the top of the app, which may be a way to beat Instagram’s algorithm. As Instagram continues to verify profiles for brands, that gives it room to treat brand profiles and content differently in the algorithm (as Facebook does), which for Facebook has resulted in less organic reach for branded content.
Best for: brands that don’t have a Snapchat presence established, or have inconsistent live content.
Facebook Live video has far and away the most detailed metrics of the live content options, including total views, minutes viewed, viewers during live broadcast and live broadcast audience information.
However, Facebook Live favors longer-form content such as live chats and event coverage. And these videos don’t disappear like Snapchat and Instagram Stories content.
Best for: long-form live content.
If you’ve established an audience for your brand on Snapchat, don’t abandon them!
Instagram Stories may still feel like a copycat to users who are loyal to (and used to) watching Snapchat stories every day, and it’s not just the Gen Z crowd. Snapchat is the second most-used platform among US users and is growing quickly, with more users than Twitter, Pinterest or LinkedIn.
Snapchat still represents a huge opportunity to engage with fans one-to-one. As you test out content on Instagram Stories, keep posting relevant, fun content on Snapchat as well.
Plus, Instagram Stories don’t have those fun filters which have become a large part of Snapchat’s content culture. Not yet, anyway.
Snapchat is constantly rolling out new updates as well, to position it as a messaging platform, plus some cool ad targeting — like this patent filed last month for “augmented reality advertising” targeting ads based on objects in your photos.
Best for: reaching young, digital natives.
Regardless of which channel aligns best with your audience and your content, there’s no question that live streaming video is growing in adoption by consumers. Brands that already have built-in opportunities to jump on the live-streaming bandwagon — whether through live events, tutorials or backstage tours — should not hesitate to test these platforms… and have some fun!