Saturday, May 18, 2024

Live Streaming Services: Enhancing Customer Engagement for Businesses

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The role that the internet is playing in our daily life is phenomenal. It has become the new way of communication, socialization, and interaction. The trend for integrating the internet in our daily life is becoming more and more popular. The technology has allowed the online community to enjoy a more vivid experience in their internet journey. One of the most powerful technological breakthroughs is live streaming online. It has enabled internet users to enjoy real-time interaction and socialization. Live streaming is a feature whereby a user can broadcast a live video to the internet. Anyone with the link to the stream can view the broadcast, and it also allows for real-time interaction in the comments section. This concept allows businesses around the world to fully utilize the internet’s resources, technologies, and global reach, and to ultimately magnify and attract their customer base. In the next few chapters, we will be discussing the various aspects and techniques in live streaming and how it can affect customer engagement for businesses. The content in this essay is aimed to explain critically the concept of live streaming and how it could benefit engage customers. A clear and real-world example is given to give readers a better understanding of the topic. This also encourages the application of its use. This essay also seeks to explore different scenarios and situations to illustrate how live streaming can be used in different businesses.

Benefits of Live Streaming Services

Live streaming has had increasingly innovative uses for business. For instance, Google Trends data shows Periscope has had a roughly 3X increase in searches since the beginning of 2016. One particular standout event was when Buzzfeed used Facebook Live to broadcast a watermelon with rubber bands until it exploded! The broadcast captivated a whopping 80,000 live viewers with an average watch time of 40 minutes and over 300,000 viewers in total. However outlandish this event may seem, it shows the amazingly engaging and viral concepts that can be brought to life with live streaming video. This event notably increased Buzzfeed’s brand awareness, with their logo featuring in the video backdrop being viewed over a million times. More importantly, it synthesized the power of real-time video content and its ability to create a shared brand experience with an audience. The watermelon event focused on fan engagement, an indirect yet efficient way to build brand endorsement, and it is an example of how live streaming can provide unique contexts and backstories to engage viewers. An event like the watermelon is a simple but highly effective strategy for consumer-to-consumer sharing, a powerful tool for brand growth in today’s interconnected social networks.

Increased Reach and Accessibility

Netflix has recognized the benefits of live streaming original content as a way to interact directly with fans, and has successfully used platforms like Periscope to air live Q&A sessions with show creators. These sessions include real-time audience feedback, and therefore increase end consumer engagement by making them feel more connected to the show. This is the essence of live streaming: to bring an audience closer to a product or event, and it’s a concept that can be applied by businesses across all industries. With various web services available to help enable live streaming events, and increased public awareness of live broadcasting platforms through services like Facebook Live, it’s easier now more than ever to get a live stream in front of an online audience. Live streaming, and additional means of online video marketing such as Video on Demand (VoD) or interactive web adverts, represent a progression towards the declining TV advertising industry. By bringing the advertising to an online space, where an increasing number of consumers are already spending their time, it becomes easier to access a larger global market. This is a particularly relevant point for small businesses or start-ups, who can use the internet as a level playing field to compete with bigger competitors in the same industry.

Live streaming offers a new and potentially effective channel to increase accessibility – even for those consumers who have abandoned pay TV – which your customers can do using their smartphones, tablets, or connected TV. In parallel with the trend for consumers to control when and where they watch their favorite TV shows, live streaming allows viewers to tune into your broadcast at the time of your choosing, and on the device of their choice. Netflix, which has effectively used big data tracking to identify what kinds of original content would appeal to which of its global markets, is now an experienced player in the game of commissioning targeted original content. Plan a trial to see how ZEM Media can provide more accurate and cost-effective advertisement for your event or business.

Real-time Interaction with Customers

When we break down the ways customers interact with businesses online, “real-time” anything is typically down to instant messaging or responding to social media updates. Live streaming enables immediate real-time communication between the broadcaster and the viewer, meaning an event and its message is conveyed instantaneously. This opens up many avenues for increased customer interaction, such as Q&A sessions, live events, or showcasing competitions. The majority of popular live streaming services offer a live chat feature, allowing users to engage with the broadcaster and other viewers via messages in real time. This can act as a way to directly receive consumer feedback on a product or promotion, or generate a buzz through audience participation. With more and more mobile users tuning in to their favorite apps and social networks, live streaming an event can allow a company to engage those on the go using a device. For example, a mobile gamer can live stream a session which his viewers can watch from their own devices, meaning the broadcaster and viewers are both engaging in an event from mobile platforms.

Cost-effective Marketing Tool

To give you a rough idea, live streaming is an incredibly cost-effective marketing tool because of its potential to drive business at little to no extra cost. Online marketing can be a very expensive business, with services costing upwards of $20,000. Small companies are dead in the water with marketing services such as these, because they simply cannot afford the high costs. But a marketing tool that has a profound effect on your bottom line, without the high costs, is a rare entity indeed. This is what live streaming services are offering to businesses. By enabling businesses to live stream events, product launches and demonstrative videos, the consumer has the opportunity to be fully engaged with what your company is offering, and it’s a quick and easy way for them to express interest. This has the potential to increase sales and drive company revenue in the shortest possible time frame. This is a marketing tactic that has a profound effect on small to medium sized companies.

Best Practices for Utilizing Live Streaming Services

Once this type of content is established, it is then easy to move on to engaging your intended audience, which will be discussed later. As well as a plan of action, a business must also cater the time of the event to their intended audience. If the event is global and caters to people in different time zones, a business must be sure to make the event accessible to all by choosing the appropriate time to live stream. An example of this would be a game developer that wants to broadcast their gameplay testing. This event would largely cater to students and working-class citizens, so to maximize the audience, the event might be best held on a weekend morning. If it’s an event catered to a local target audience, then the business should ensure they attempt to stream at a time where most target audience members are available to watch. So overall, the time slot will be an important factor in deciding how to capture the largest audience.

Utilizing live streaming services may sound easy and fun, but capturing your audience’s attention for a period of time can be quite difficult. In planning an event, a business must firstly create a direct plan of action and cater that plan to their intended audience. So, in using live streaming services, a business will decide what type of video content best caters to their relevant consumers.

Planning and Preparation

The next step in planning is to create a schedule for both the live stream preparation and the live stream itself. Creating a to-do list of all the required tasks that need to be completed before the live stream will ensure nothing is forgotten and the live stream runs smoothly. It is commonly underestimated how long it takes to fully prepare for a quality live stream. The day of the live stream will require clear organization to ensure everything is set up correctly and starts on time. This is where a detailed schedule for the live stream itself will be valuable. This includes how long to spend on each topic if it is an informative live stream, or planning the various entertainment activities that will keep the audience engaged. A schedule will also allow breaks to be taken at appropriate times to prevent fatigue and to allow hosts to regain focus.

During the planning and preparation stage, it is important to define the purpose of the live stream by determining the target audience and the expected outcome of the live stream. It is important to think from the audience’s perspective in order to provide value to them. This value may come in many forms: entertainment, education, and an inside look are all different ways in which a live stream can provide value to an audience. Understanding which form of value is going to be provided is crucial in planning the live stream. For example, a product release live stream will provide its value in an informative form in which customers will understand features of the product from the creator themselves.

Engaging Content Creation

– A Q&A where the audience has the chance to communicate directly with the streamer. This adds a personal touch and can clarify any questions about the product. An excellent example of utilizing this even comes from Dan Price, owner of the company Gravity Payments. After slashing his own $1.1 million dollar salary to raise his company’s minimum annual wage to $70,000, Price hosted a live Q&A session with his employees to discuss the decision. This not only reinforced the decision in the minds of his employees but also attracted media attention and created a new personal image of both Price and his company in the eyes of the general public.

– An education-based tutorial or workshop related directly to the product. This sort of content can create a personal relationship between the customer and the company as the customer is gaining knowledge they may not have received without the product, and the company is providing something of value rather than a sales pitch. This can also be shared and promoted to create new leads even after the live stream has ended.

To effectively penetrate the market and maintain a strong, loyal customer base, businesses can use a number of effective strategies to truly engage their audience. From tutorials to product presentations to behind-the-scenes glimpses, engaging content is key to a captive audience. For a live stream in particular, the content must be engaging with the live audience in mind. Unlike a video that can be paused and re-watched, live content does not offer the same possibilities for skipping back to review something and thus must be captured the first time. Because of this, it is even more important for live content to be stimulating and keep the audience’s full attention. Subsequently, the more engaged the audience, the more likely they are to purchase as they will feel a stronger personal connection to the product and the company, and live content can often invoke a stronger call to action. High-quality, engaging live content can come in many forms. Some effective examples include:

Promoting and Driving Traffic

Live streaming promotes engagement, but it is also a source of engagement in and of itself. There is little point in surfer jumping into an online community and letting his presence be known if people don’t know when his next broadcast will be, or if there even will be one. A sort of “historical presence marker” is set for each stream that is detailed some time prior to it actually starting. It’s a fantastic way to spread the word and drum up interest, so telling viewers when you will be streaming or making some mention of what may be going on during that time (without giving too much away) is a great way to spark interest for an upcoming event. Once this has been established, the usual array of social networking tools can be utilized to remind viewers when the time draws close. People also tend to underestimate the power of word of mouth. If you have some particularly dedicated fans, you can empower them with the task of trying to get more people to watch your stream. It is also important not to restrict content to only what is taking place during a stream. As we have mentioned before, stream time is very valuable and the more efficiently it is used, the better. Making highlight clips at or during some point prior to the stream and speculating as to what will take place at the next stream is a great way to pique people’s interest and draw them to the actual event.

Case Studies: Successful Implementation of Live Streaming Services

In this portion of the paper, we shall be studying the benefits of live streaming services in many industries through three specific case studies. The first case study highlights the retail industry, showing a Singapore company that has reaped benefits of using live video streaming. We will compare the sales data from before the campaign and after to see how much the company has benefited. The comparison of this data will be akin to a QED proof of the benefits of live video streaming, and more importantly, to see if such companies have a return on their potentially heavy investment. A second case study examines a production in the entertainment industry with a similar methodology. Finally, we look at how learning institutions can provide up-to-date global information to students studying various issues around the world. With these case studies, one can better understand the potential of live video streaming to provide an alternative yet highly effective method of information dissemination to global target audiences.

Retail Industry

Live streaming services have proven to be a versatile marketing and sales tool for many different aspects of the retail industry. It offers entertainment and a platform to build a relationship between brand and customer. Taking into account that many customers would purchase products to support the live stream, it is a viable tool for businesses small to large.

Case Study: Shanghai-based fast fashion retailer OCE focused on its 30 and under demographic and launched a live streaming show on Alibaba’s Taobao. With the use of popular internet personalities and a variety of content, it saw a 10 times ROI. OCE director Xiaoli Wang said, “User ratings and comments poured in. A lot of customers were closely interacting with the guest, host, and our product team during the shoot. Those were quite valuable and insightful consumer opinions.” OCE used the live streaming platform to test how effective live interaction is with their demographic but also to demonstrate the range of style and quality of products they offer. OCE did a total of 13 episodes of varying content over a period of one month and was able to increase their store traffic within Taobao and overall sales.

In the retail sector, there is a growing trend towards live streaming. Live streaming “flash sales” and other promotions have proven to be an effective sales tool. The nature of live streaming means that there is a call to action – limited time offers with a sense of urgency – and this truly spices up the interaction and helps in the conversion of sales. The unique aspect of live streaming, with its “real-time” interaction between customers and retailers, is opening up new doors for providing excellent customer service. The variety of live stream shows also gives the retailer a chance to showcase their products in a more casual setting and to show customers how the products are used.

Entertainment Industry

In the comedy industry, live streaming allows comedians to reach an audience in a more personal way. Comedian Louis CK has not only decided to live stream his latest comedy performances, but he is the first in his industry to sell tickets to his live stream event. By creating a production that made the audience feel as if they were part of the performance, he was able to double the profits compared to if he were to have broadcasted on HBO Pay-Per-View. The proceeds of this performance also went to charity. This goes to show that if done right, a live stream can be just as successful as it is charitable.

Live streaming services have also proven to be successful for businesses in the entertainment industry. In the competitive music industry, independent musician Daria Musk was able to engage fans and gather a following by performing live from her home and taking requests via a Google+ Hangout. She was able to attract a following into the millions and was able to take her career to the next level by live-streaming. Live streaming has also proven to be very successful for bands. Childish Gambino was able to attract over 770,000 views in 1 week to the live stream of his Lollapalooza performance, being one of the many musicians to engage fans on YouTube. The popular metal band Avenged Sevenfold took live streaming to a new level by being the first band ever to live stream a 3D/360-degree virtual reality performance. This performance was for charity and for the band to give back to fans.

Education Industry

In the distant learning field, McMaster University is currently experimenting with simulations of live TV broadcasts. They want to develop a service to transmit news, university events, and educational programs to students. It’s a way to provide an alternative to the isolation experienced by many students using print-based learning. An online environment where the events in McMaster are no further away than a mouse click could give all students access to a shared resource.

Another use is the Toyota Online Community, which is the result of a partnership between Toyota and the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology. This service provides live training courses at the Toyota Canada offices for Toyota technicians. Instructors at the colleges and dealerships can interact with trainers in real-time sessions. The ability to have interactive question sessions and give immediate feedback to trainees is invaluable. The sessions are saved and can be accessed at a later date.

There are many uses for live streaming in the education industry. The University of Arizona has used a new service to broadcast its School of Environmental Health live to students in their homes and on their phones. Students at the university’s campuses in Phoenix and Tucson can watch the lectures live or access them later on personal computers or handheld devices.