This is nothing new. It happens all of the time. Some brands really do embrace an early-adopter ethos and score big earned media points by doing something (anything) with the latest and greatest shiny object that is capturing our attention. Right now, that object is the ability to live stream (with fairly good quality) from your smartphone, and Twitter is the prime gateway. If you’ve tinkered with Meerkat and Periscope (and, if you have not, you really should), it’s an eye-opening experience. The quality really is remarkable, and the ease with which anything can now suddenly be “live” should spark the imagination and the new brand narrative opportunities. Of the two services, it’s hard to say which one will prevail (Meerkat was first out of the gates and got a lot of buzz at SXSW, but Periscope seems to have the inside track, simply because it is owned by Twitter). Regardless of who wins this battle, the main question is this: will users truly adopt live streaming from their devices?
The answer is obvious: Yes. Yes, live streaming video will be a sight to behold.
So, what is a brand to do? Streaming opens up a new vocabulary and opportunity for brands to better connect with consumers. With that, we’re going to see the typical trappings follow suit. There’s the basic opportunities: brands being able to pay for things like sponsorship, advertising, product placement and partnerships. I call these “typical trappings,” because they all fall within the paid model. It’s not that they’re easy to do well, but they’re obvious and quick ways to get a brand name into something. There’s so much more that brands are going to have to do, when streaming like this becomes more commonplace, and part of the ever-expansive media landscape.
And, make no mistake about it… streaming is now, next and the future of marketing.
So, what is your live streaming brand? Have you watched the new Netflix series, Daredevil? I’m in the middle of it (and… loving it, but then again, I have a proclivity to all things comic book). You have an entire new series on-demand and streaming like Daredevil, you begin to realize how much “time spent” with media is happening. I half-jokingly commented on Facebook the other day, that Daredevil is one of the best thirteen hour movies that I have ever watched (this season of Daredevil is thirteen one-hour episodes). It’s hard to argue that this Netflix model has further perpetrated the binge-watching media consumption habits of people, while adapting us to the idea that streaming enables consumers to pay for access over ownership. Meerkat and Periscope push this new way that consumers are connecting with media by making the experience both live, and that much more portable (or mobile). The challenge with a streaming brand is that it is a moment in time. If it’s happening and your target audience isn’t in the know, connected to it or even near their device, you’re going to experience a well-known phenom that I described in my second business book, CTRL ALT Delete, as “digital tumbleweeds and virtual crickets.” This happens when brands pull out all of the stops and the content simple doesn’t connect. The outcome of this is, typically, an internal mantra that “digital doesn’t work,” or “we’re having a hard time finding the ROI,” or “such and such platform doesn’t convert for us.” All of these comments are cringe-worthy, because it becomes this pointing-of-the-finger strategy, instead of looking within at what the brand may have done wrong. For a brand, streaming live is going to be a massive multiplier of these fears and concerns.
The live streaming brand strategy.
First-mover advantage is critical. Understanding what’s happening on these platforms, and what consumers are connecting to (and who they’re loving on it) is job one. From there, the exercise of figuring out what you brand can do in the live streaming place, to put some semblance of a flag in the ground is a worthwhile exercise. If for no other reason, than to figure it out and tinker with a new media format. At best, you may quickly discover that there are boundless opportunities to tell your brand narrative in a new way. At worst, you will simply be ahead of the competition in knowing what a new technology is and is capable of. Better yet, you may – in the process of tinkering and doing – find something new, interesting and dynamic to say. Other digital content is somewhat flat in a live streaming world. Think about it. It’s always there. Your blog post, your podcast, your Twitter feed, whatever. Consumers can get to it on demand. Live is a very different animal. Mobile and live is a whole other species. It’s a “now you see it, now you don’t” moment. Approaching a live streaming opportunity in the same way that you might approach building a strategy for YouTube is a sure way to set your brand up for failure and disappointment. It’s also easy to get negative about a brand’s real role in a streaming live world. That is a defeatist attitude. I don’t know if Meerkat or Periscope will offer panacea to your brand. I do know that streaming live is going to play a major function in what digital marketing can offer to brands.
Plan now. Plan later. Streaming live and your brand is the new next.