How to create engaging live content with social streaming

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With the photo sharing social platform Instagram launching Instagram Stories in August, more emphasis than ever before has been put on creating real-time content for your users. More specifically, sharing specific moments of your day in a slideshow format. A service that has also been available on Snapchat (Snapchat Stories) for some time, with Periscope, Google Hangouts and Facebook Live streaming offering similar opportunities.  

For some this is a scary prospect and a bit of a leap of faith from the traditional planned content pieces. However, if done well it can pay dividends for engagement if you’re willing to put your business out there as an early adopter.

In this blog post we investigate opportunities for brands to become involved in the rise of live content marketing.  

The rise of live content

Real-time content marketing has been on the rise for some time, with video now becoming a significant channel for many brands telling their story online.

“All signs point to video. Whether it’s Facebook Live, video on Twitter, Periscope, Blab, Instagram, Vine, or the old standby YouTube, 2016 will be the year when video becomes a primary content marketing consideration for all brands – even B2B”.
– Jay Baer, president, Convince & Convert, quoted in Content Marketing Institute

However, it is the transition from polished, corporate one-way video content to live captures often shot on mobiles has played a significant role in changing how we consume this content. This is a game changer for smaller brands without the budget for big productions, they are on a level playing field in terms of being able to share their brand story freely on social media. 

It doesn’t even have to be video all of the time, Instagram Stories allow you to share photos in a slideshow format as well. In terms of targeting, Instagram shows the story to your followers as default, however you can adjust the privacy settings to show to only certain people.

On Snapchat you can take targeting one step further with their On-Demand Geofilters, allowing you to target people in a specific location. Existing individual and business profiles can login and upload their artwork, pick a time and a location and submit their Geofilter for review by Snapchat before being added to people’s feeds.

Examples of live content

GrubHub on Snapchat

GrubHub, an US restaurant delivery service, were Snapchat early adopters keen to establish a rapport with a younger demographic.

On April 4, 2014, GrubHub hit Wall Street to ring in the opening bell for its IPO and told the story of their entire day live from the floor. GrubHub was the first and only brand to date to live snap an IPO.

The brand have been nominated for a number of awards for their use of Snapchat which has also included applying for jobs via the platform.


Their active community is a result of their brands friendly tone of voice, one to one interactions and engaging content.

National Geographic on Instagram Stories

This is a profile I personally follow. As a travel lover and geography geek (I studied it a long time ago) I love the way they use engaging visuals and short interviews on Instagram Stories to bring a travel spot to life. Here are some snaps for their story on the 13th September. 

national-geographic.png nat-geo-2.png

With the majority of mobile users muting videos on their phone, having text overlays like this is vital. 

Anecdotatly I have seen people on Twitter commenting that their engagement rates with Instagram Stories have been significantly higher that on Snapchat. I myself as a user don’t watch every video posted, but if a brand produces engaging short-form content like the above I’m more likely to regularly tune in.

General Electric on Periscope

Think that live content is just for B2C? Think again. Last year General Electric flew a drone coast to coast across America with a 3D printed camera mount to give a birds eye view of five of their facilities across five days. 

The #DRONEWEEK was used across the materials and they even created the drone’s its own Twitter account. Due to the nature of Periscope it is live streaming and doesn’t have the longevity of the traditional video sites. Following the success of this campaign, General Electric launched a series of shorts, but this time on YouTube to coincide with the Rio Olympics over the summer, again following the same five day format. Highlighting the necessity to trial different platforms to find your audience, however big a brand you are. 

Creative ways to share live content

There’s no point in creating live content for the sake of it. It has to be linked to a business objective or a real-time event. Here are a few ideas of when live content may work well for you.  

  • When you’re attending or exhibiting events.
  • Whilst events are happening in your sector.
  • When you’re launching new product or service.
  • To help with recruitment of new staff.
  • To share video content or podcasts / interviews with industry thought-leaders and clients live.
  • To showcase your skills. This is particularly relevant for food, drink, arts and crafts businesses who can produce short snippets of their business offering.
  • Tying in to trending topics and global events to share your view and be involved in the wider discussion.  

Top tips for creating live content

When you’ve honed the area of focus for your live content, it’s time to nail the brief and get promoting. Here are our top tips for scoping, creating and sharing your live content.

  • As with any visual content, it’s important to plan ahead of time by storyboarding the concept, or organising a rough script for the present. Even if that’s on the morning of the recording. Without clear goals the content is destined to be misunderstood, or worse not even viewed at all.
  • Experiment with different channels to see where your audiences hangout. Review the targeting, your following and engagement metrics. Snapchat in particularly is mostly used by 18-24 year olds, so if you’re marketing to pensioners this platform probably isn’t going to work best for you.
  • Promote the content on your blog and on other social media channels where possible to maximise the potential audience. For example, if you’re attending an event, show sponsored posts on Facebook at the same time to people who are in that location that point to the channel you’re sharing live content on.
  • Don’t create live content for the sake of it. It has to resonate with people and be relatable to your brand values, as well as tying in to when your audience is online. Being meaningful or different in your approach will resonate more positively with viewers and set you apart from your competitors. Also be mindful about length. Brevity is often key.
  • Be consistent to achieve long-term value and recurring visits to your profile.

Are you planning on starting to experiment with live content but not sure where to start? Get in touch with us to find out more about our content marketing services.

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