It’s 8.05am and I’m jumping straight on an Instagram live streaming workout. Although there are no exercise classes with humans at the moment, the little counter in the top right of the screen tells me I’m not alone online. There are plenty of other individuals starting the day with countless burpees and dozens more simply watching from the confines of their duvet. I feel a part of something for the first time in weeks. Cast your mind back to a pre-pandemic era, and the likes of live streaming were reserved largely for gamers and e-sports fans on Twitch. Every once in a while, you’d see an event unfold on YouTube in real time, or a friend would accidentally hit the live button on Instagram. But the reality was: if you were a creator or a brand with the time to carefully plan your content, why would you risk going Live across social media? Now, thanks to an increased audience plus limited creative resources with a dash of ‘boredom’ and ‘loneliness’ thrown into the mix, it seems that livestreaming has gone mainstream. 

Livestreaming content

In the first week of lockdown, Instagram and Facebook reported that views of live stream content instantly doubled. Meanwhile, YouTube has been working to meet an increased demand for live stream resources since all ‘social gathering’ has moved to the digital space. As with most forms of consumer activity, there is a place for marketing within this ever-growing medium. However, brands, organisations and individuals looking to join the live stream revolution need to weigh up the pros and cons before diving in. The key factors to consider before committing are: 

Audience interaction

Whatever activity you choose to display through live streaming, make sure it’s something that your audience can engage with in real time. The benefit of live streaming is the instant interaction with the audience, so give them something to participate in, or feel a part of. The best live streams are the ones that actively encourage audience involvement and react to it.

Working with talent

Another reason to love livestreaming is the sense of spontaneity (at a time when it’s hardest to achieve). Create an outline, keep to time, but try to go with the flow. Having somebody to lead your live stream who has experience in this area is a must. There are plenty of traditional and digital influencers already doing their own thing via livestreaming and pulling in huge audiences in the process. Partnering with the right one(s) will lead to the desired “unscripted” tone of voice whilst increasing your viewers.

Filling a gap

With such widespread limitations on everyday life, try to find something your product or expertise can do that isn’t readily available to your audience right now. The two most common content themes for livestreaming are education or entertainment. A combination of both is best. For example, if you’re a festival brand, partner with an artist to play us a bedroom concert. If you’re a beauty brand, give us some skincare tips with minimal products. If you’re a restaurant then do a fancy three-course cook-a-long with wine pairings.

How to livestream successfully

There are so many regular live stream sessions occurring now, we’re spoilt for choice. Some recommendations for inspiration on how to live stream successfully, include the following:
  • No Filter with Naomi. Everybody’s favourite, slightly terrifying, iconic supermodel, Naomi Campbell, hosts live video calls with some huge names. Guests include fellow 90s legend Cindy Crawford, tennis mega-stars Serena and Venus Williams, and renowned fashion designer Marc Jacobs. With Naomi’s unvetted style of questioning and no pesky publicists to interject, the resulting interviews feel pure, honest and often hilarious. Not to mention she averages 100,000 viewers per episode.

  • Esquire UK’s film watch-a-longs. Imagine watching arguably the best Bond film of a generation with live commentary from the actor who played him. That’s the kind of thing only the likes of Esquire could organise. The first in an ongoing series, Instagram viewers tuned in to a screening of Goldeneye alongside Pierce Brosnan himself, giving live insight into the film and taking questions from fans.

  • Jay’s Virtual Pub Quiz. It started out as an accident. Jay Flynn from Lancashire hosted a live pub quiz on Facebook and YouTube for the local area. The internet caught wind of it. Next thing you know, 300,000 people have tuned in from across the globe. Now it’s a regular fixture, with a children’s quiz spin off, celebrity question-askers, and an NHS Just Giving page. Jay is a modern hero for a modern world.

  • The PDC Home Tour. With the majority of live sports cancelled, a large percentage of the population have suddenly found themselves at a complete competitive loss. However, one sport is flying the flag for audiences everywhere. A sport that requires a type of pub-going, beer drinking athlete I can empathise with – Darts. PDCTV have launched a free-to-stream home Darts tournament that sees some of the best in the business compete from their houses, with live commentary and official betting. It’s all the chaos of Ally Pally in your living room. Audience fancy dress optional.

  • Gay Times Saturday night DJs.Just one of the many live fixtures that make up their #undistanced series, Gay Times are streaming stay-home sets from guest DJs every Saturday night for those of you missing clubs. Whilst there are plenty of options when it comes to live stream DJ sets in lockdown, with various venues and individuals putting on shows (I was a big fan of Victoria Beckham’s digital birthday bash), not all of them will pump out dancefloor remixes of Cher covering ABBA.
All of the above come with the added bonus of real-time input from the audience that is social distancing at home. The comments section is often a place of joy, with strangers interacting and a population rallying around a common viewing experience. This is the point of livestreaming: it’s about bringing your audience together. 
The fact is, digital viewing habits have changed, possibly forever, and livestreaming isn’t likely to disappear once the pandemic subsides. Therefore, it’s worth making your mark whilst people are discovering new ways to socialise and interact. If you’re a newbie to the live stream scene, or maybe you’re simply missing that feeling of community, jump on to the first live stream you find and discover it for yourself. 
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