After years of sitting in the background, livestreaming seems to be finally taking center stage in the theater of marketing thanks to Periscope's ascendance in 2015 and the promise of Facebook Live this year.
For instance, one publisher, Tastemade, recently vowed to do 100 Facebook Live episodes per month after garnering 220,000 viewers for one recent stream. And livestreaming has been part of various publishers' Digital Content NewFronts presentations in recent days, including BuzzFeed, AOL, Yahoo and PopSugar.
So, if you are a digital marketer at the NewFronts—or back at the office—and you want to bone up on the craft of livestreaming, you're in luck. We checked in with expert early adopters and gathered the following seven tips:
1. Make viewers feel special
The content has to be rare, or at least unusual in some regard, our industry players agreed. If your viewers ask themselves why they're watching, you're doing it wrong—way wrong.
"It should be exclusive or useful—e.g., educational," said Kurt Jaskowiak, creative director at Huge. "[It should be] entertaining and novel, regardless."
2. Be experimental, patient and learn from mistakes
Digital marketing consultant David Deal mentioned the importance of trial and error, pointing to the T-Mobile-sponsored Coachella music festival that was live on YouTube in recent weeks.
"[The] livestream was an excellent experience during the first weekend, but the 360-degree livestream during the second weekend was an embarrassment," Deal said. "Advertisers also need to have a high tolerance for testing and learning."
3. Know your channels
With Twitter-owned Periscope, Facebook Live, YouTube, AOL's Kanvas, etc., brands have a lot of options to play on. So how should they choose among the channels? Get to know them now so you pick the right one for the brand.
"Some marketing activities you want to do on a specific platform," said Jesse Hertzberg, CEO of Livestream. "Others you want to push through every channel possible. Facebook and other platforms will be good for some things, but if you are SpaceX launching a rocket, you want them to watch it on Apple TV, people's phones and on Facebook."
4. Be authentic
Don't get too cute with people—they will see right through branded phoniness, Jaskowiak warned.
"Use the platform the way its audience expects—engage," he said. "That said, I am curious to see if the prevalent user behaviors and expectations we see on Periscope will carry over to other platforms. In other words, will Facebook users approach livestreaming the same way they approach other video, which is mostly a passive experience?"
5. Use influencers to extend your reach
Our experts agreed that, if possible, brands should utilize livestreaming stars like Amanda Oleander and Geoff Golberg to push their messages, because right now, consumers aren't going to branded livestreaming channels in waves just to see if there's anything going on. They need a little Internet-celebrity boost until Facebook Live, Periscope and AOL Kanvas are regularly visited for real-time video the way YouTube has been frequented for years in terms for regular video.
"And it took some time for YouTube to build that up," said Noah Mallin, head of social at MEC Global.
6. Look to podcasting and talk radio
What kind of brand opportunities are there in livestreams? Many think digital overlays are the future of paid marketing in the space, though podcasting might offer a alternate glimpse. Consider how MailChimp struck gold by sponsoring the hit podcast Serial in recent years.
"I used to work for Squarespace," said Hertzberg, "and we did a lot of podcasting [ads]. It was usually successful for us. The No. 1 reason it worked was that people want good content—live and online or not. And people will support brands that help let [such content] exist, just like the old days of talk radio."
7. Think events 2.0
Brand activations have long been extended via social media through photos and recorded video but now, livestreaming allows events marketers to take things to a whole new level.
"Not everyone can attend a brand event," said Hertzberg, who also said experiential livestreaming can become "a pretty meaningful piece of marketing spend."