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Live streaming: What it means for the future of business

By George Kiongo | Published Wed, May 17th 2017 at 08:03, Updated May 17th 2017 at 08:07 GMT +3

The current young generation is one of the most documented of all time, thanks to social media and mobile devices. Had a great breakfast? Post a picture of it on Instagram. Had a good time at a wedding? Write about it on Facebook. Annoyed about the customer service at a particular institution? Vent on Twitter.

While photos and text were the main staple for these sorts of posts, there is now a trend towards video. Even more recently, there’s been an affinity for live video – so much so that all major social media sites have adopted one form or another of live video streaming. We now have platforms like Periscope, Snapchat and Facebook Live.

Live streaming is essentially using your device, mostly mobile, to record a video and broadcast it over the Internet to a set of followers you have gained over time. So, what does it mean for the future of business?

Its most obvious use is showcasing your products. You have the chance to let your clients see how your products can be used for maximum impact. And live streaming has been put to great use by various brands. BMW, for instance, used Periscope to launch its M2 model, drawing in 16.6 million views. You can even run a fun experiment like Buzzfeed did with Facebook Live. It got more than 800,000 viewers to see how many rubber bands it would take to blow up a watermelon. You can run Q&As with your company CEO or first customer. The possibilities are endless, the variety of platforms wide, and the system easy to use.

Build a community

We’ve all come across instances where the photo, video or text posts on a social media page promise so much more than the reality. This embellishment or manipulation can slow down the conversion rate of potential clients. With live streaming, this is minimised. As a business owner, you can expose who you are and what your business stands for, building lasting relationships.

Most live video streaming sites also have a section for comments. This creates an excellent platform to engage with your clients in real time and build a community of followers who can be valuable brand ambassadors.

And since videos aren’t saved and can’t be paused, your followers have the added incentive to stay tuned to the end of the stream – if you’re content is engaging enough that they don’t want to miss a thing.

But for all its great uses, live streaming has a couple of downsides. For one, live streaming can do a number on battery life, so make sure your device has enough juice to keep the video going. Keep in mind that 10-15 minutes of live streaming uses up about 20 per cent of battery life.

Secondly, you can run into technical hiccups with the platform you’re using, losing viewers in seconds. Or your followers may have a slow Internet connection, which means the video keeps buffering, and they lose interest.

Third, unless you’re using the videos to make your brand more appealing to your followers, it can be difficult to earn cash from investing in getting as many views as possible.

Lastly, when’s the best time to live stream? Early in the morning before people get to work? Over the average lunch hour? Early or late evening? This is where data comes in handy. If you know when your customers engage with your product the most, and which time zone they majority are in, then work your videos around this.

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