Social Experts Share Best Practices for Live-streaming Success

Surprising no one, 2017 is poised to be the year of live-streaming.

A 2016 report from Brandive indicated that 44% of brands are using live-streaming, and further 20% plan to do so over the next year. Nearly 7 million people watched the Presidential Inauguration via Twitter, while FB, on its February 1st earnings call, named video the “next megatrend”, pointing specifically to success of its Live product.

The bottom line is that live-streaming shows where social media is headed – and with the potential for AR/VR integration, there is a lot of opportunity for brands to flex their creative muscles & connect with their audiences in real-time.

Given this, I asked some of my friends for their tips to make your next live-stream a success. Here is what they had to say:

Kevin Olivieri, Juniper Networks (@kevinolivieri)

“I cannot stress enough how important it is to plan your video with participation in mind.

Try to incorporate different ideas audience engagement can influence & impact the broadcast – if your audience sees that a action by them, like asking a question in the comments, can lead to actual action onscreen, it could help increase retention, reach & lead to more engagement from the viewers.

With Juniper Networks’ highly technical social audience, it is critical that we leverage subject matter experts capable of providing answers & insights to audience questions, thus creating engaging and valuable content for our community, company & industry.

NPR, for one, does an interesting job of this – the ability to deploy live-streams featuring SMEs around pertinent topics to make captivating content that incorporates audience participation is commendable.”

See what Juniper has done…

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تم نشره بواسطة ‏‎Juniper Networks‎‏ في 7 فبراير، 2017

Keith Boswell, Meijer (@keithboswell)

“Be prepared to engage with the audience during the stream – we have found that when we acknowledge questions that come in live, the response, shares & engagement rates go up dramatically.

Everyone likes to participate, and by encouraging them to get involved, the live-stream performance is better. It makes future playback feel more engaging because people who watch after it is been recorded see that you are interacting and engaging with those who were watching it live.”

See what Meijer has done…

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تم نشره بواسطة ‏‎Meijer‎‏ في 9 فبراير، 2017

Jim Presley & Sherri Chien-Niclas, Symantec (@marketph)

“The most successful live events aren’t live press releases or commercials. The topic could be an “answer” to a broad, obvious audience “want.”

The audience wants an engagement that they feel has a take-away that they completely understand, and which provides personal advantage or benefit to them right then and there. Show clear validity of the present need, question / opportunity and then drive the discussion to fill the need, answer the question / give thought as how they can engage the opportunity.

Be willing to go off script and take the conversation where customers want – this shows your effort is invested in building many relationships. 

One of the best, early live-streaming experiences we could recall was done by GE in July 2015.  Using drones equipped with Periscope, they gave guided tours of the remote facilities as part of #DRONEWEEK, and they have since taken this medium to other places, including the Rio Olympics.

Moreover, allow your subject matter experts (SMEs) to use live-streaming. Some of our most successful streams don’t come from our brand, but from our SMEs. For instance, our #HackTheVote demo from our Symantec booth at Black Hat was streamed by one of our cybersecurity services SMEs & proved to be a great success.”


Lewis Bertolucci, Humana (@Lewis502)

“For the looking to do their first or their 50th live stream, one fundamental aspect should take precedence: “Understand your goals & audience”.

As simplistic as that sounds, many overlook it – as an instance, our target audience are older Boomers and seniors (65+). What we have learned is that sometimes technology is not as intuitive to our primary audience, so we are very intentional and clear with regards to any actions we want the viewers to take before, during & after our stream.

In addition to the foundations, a few tips we have found helpful include: 

  • Prepare & practice –Be intentional. It is hard to be in front of the camera; make sure you rehearse & know what you are talking about (no memorizing). What activity are you filming? If it is just an interview, do the voices come through clear and how is the lighting? If it’s an activity that requires a closer frame, have you practiced to find the best angles? Make sure your signal is consistently strong. 
  • Promote & cross-promote your event in advance –Cross-promote on Twitter / other social channels with the link to your broadcast. Build anticipation. Do not forget, you can promote your live-stream after it’s ended as well.
  • Engage with your audience –We have found the easiest and first engagement point is to welcome everyone, followed by asking where they are tuning in from. It makes it simple for people to engage early, develop reach and they’re more likely to engage later in the broadcast. In addition, refer to those engaging by name & ask your audience to share the broadcast if they are enjoying it. 
  • Test & learn –Do a post-mortem. What could we have done better / how could we have been more creative & engaging? It takes time to get good at anything, including live-streaming. Celebrate everyone who took part in the live broadcast. It takes a team, and it could be stressful. Even if it fell flat, it is okay to celebrate that you tried & learned along the way for your next broadcast.

Not everyone will find your live-stream relevant, and that is okay, provided it resonates with your target audiences. In the example below, we learned a lot – like our broadcast was probably long – but we also saw opportunity in the ability to atomize the content & use it across various channels.

Remember, it is an evolution to a revolution – we all have a lot to learn.”

See what Humana has done…

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تم نشره بواسطة ‏‎Humana‎‏ في 4 نوفمبر، 2016

And finally, from my perspective:

It is essential brands be opportunistic in their live-stream plans – don’t over-plan or you will miss timely opportunities.

What makes live-streaming particularly compelling is its lack of production, its “behind-the-scenes” point of view. So, brands should seize opportunities as they come up – all you need is a smartphone.

Case in point: The most successful live-stream to-date came together in a matter of a couple of hours. In the midst of a large DDoS attack a few months ago – in which our brand was brought into the conversation – we pivoted from our documented crisis communications plan in order to get ahead of the story, correct misinformation, educate, and position ourselves as cybersecurity or DDoS experts. And it worked. The feedback we got from going live was overwhelmingly positive & it served as an educational tool, while helping curb the tsunami of incorrect social chatter & garnering the brand a slew of positive press – which culminated in the CSO testifying before Congress.

See what Level 3 did…




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