How to Grow Your Business with Live Videos

  •    Law graduate and journalist who specializes in helping entrepreneurs market and grow their businesses.

Live videos are a powerful way to grow your business. They generate a sense of urgency that encourages viewers to watch right away. Plus, social media algorithms tends to give extra love to live videos in your followers' feeds. If you live stream on Instagram or Facebook, followers will be notified and encouraged to tune in, which is great free advertising.

When to Go Live & Why

Live videos can be used for a variety of reasons. For example, a live video can be used for a tutorial or a Q&A session with your customers. You can use a live video to share breaking news about your business, a behind-the-scenes story or a limited-time offer. If you're attending an event, like a charity auction or a concert, you might want to live stream part of the occasion. If you're giving a speech, you might want someone to live stream your talk. Some business owners often use live videos to share background stories about their business and their lives so they can better connect with their customers.

But why would you want to go through the trouble of making a live video? A quick look at some statistics can show you why live videos are a must-have feature for your business:

  • 82 percent of people who follow brands online prefer live videos from the brand rather than social media posts.
  • 87 percent of people surveyed would watch more online videos if they got behind-the-scenes content.
  • Streaming video makes up 2/3 of internet traffic, and may rise to 82 percent by 2020.
  • In the 18-34 age bracket, 63 percent of people watch livestreams regularly.
  • Live streaming was a $30 billion industry in 2016 and is projected to be at least $70 billion by 2021.
  • Live videos tend to generate more comments and shares than static videos

Variety of Platforms

Try out live videos on a variety of mediums before choosing which one is right for you. You can make live videos on places like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Periscope, Twitch and more. Experiment with your options to determine which you like best and which your customers are more likely to notice.

Here are some helpful tips that may help you decide which platforms to try first:

  • The most popular livestreaming platforms are YouTube Live, Facebook Live, Snapchat Live Stories, Periscope, Meerkat, YouNow and Twitter.

  • But recently, Twitch.tv has grown significantly in popularity around the world, with 10 million active users daily. Twitch is used primarily by video gamers, but the market is growing.

  • Facebook Live can help you compete with larger retailers and publishers. You can build anticipation by sharing posts that let people know when you'll be going live. You can even have a live show at the same time every day or week, in order to drive engagement. Facebook is often ahead of the curve tech wise, and may be one of the first to perfect virtual reality live streaming.

  • Twitter live stream viewers may be more forgiving about video quality, expecting your video to often be directly from your phone. It's also one of the simplest live streaming platforms, so it might be good for your first video.

  • Instagram Live is great for a millennial-aged audience. Instagram Stories attract more than 200 million users a day.

  • Snapchat Live is a great platform for an even younger audience, from teens to 20s.

Get Tips While You're Streaming

You can let people tip you a little extra cash during your live stream. YouTube offers a Super Chat tool that lets people pay to pin their comments to the top of the discussion during your live video. People may do this just to show their appreciation, or they may "tip" their comment to market their own business.

You can even go all in on Super Chat and live stream a fundraiser, asking people to send in their donations during your video. Just remember that YouTube takes about 30 percent of all money raised with Super Chat.

Twitch's Cheering function works similarly. Viewers can pay "bits" to send you "cheers" of appreciation during your video. Participants (like you) get about 1 cent for every "bit" that is used to cheer from them. The cost of bits vary, starting at $1.40 for 100 bits. You can set up your video to accept only "cheers" that cost 30 bits or more, in order to reduce spam.

As you can see, Twitch's tipping service for live videos is a little more complicated than YouTube's. But either feature is a viable option if you want to raise a little money while live streaming.

Engage Your Audience

Since you're talking to a live audience, remember to engage them during your live video. Say hello, ask questions and respond to the comments that are made during your video.

But don't forget that some of your viewers will come by after your video is over, too. That's why you want to be lively and engaging from the get go, even if you don't have any live viewers at first. You don't want later viewers' first impression to be a dull video with a lot of silence.

It's OK to Start Small

You don't need to jump into having a super professional live video right away. Lower your barriers to entry by starting small. You can just use your smart phone or computer camera for live streaming the first few times. If you enjoy it, then you can invest in better technology later, like microphones and a dedicated camera.

More Tips for Starting Out

Here are a few more general tips for starting out.

  • Remind your audience to turn on the sound, or include captions with your video in case they don't. You can outsource live captioning or see if your platform options captioning services. YouTube provides the service, for example, and so does Facebook.

  • Add a comment or label to your video that points to your webpage.

  • Don't have a incredibly short live stream. You need to give your viewers time to see the notification and notice that your streams are happening. Don't make a short live video that's already over by the time they notice that it started.

  • If you're on Facebook, use a tool like Live Leap to automatically share your video with groups, pages and other networks.

  • Ask your viewers to share your video to their profile pages.

  • Interview experts and influencers on your live video so you can attract their audience, too.

  • If you really like making live videos, try using production software like Ecamm Live or Be Live.

Remember: you won't launch a live video and immediately have 1,000 viewers or more. It takes time to engage an audience, so try not to pay too much attention to those numbers at first. Instead, focus on telling a story and building a connection. And don't forget to continue boosting your video even after the live stream is over. You can do this by asking your followers to share the video, paying to promote your video as an ad after it's aired, or just making new posts that talk about interesting things that happened during the video. Follow these tips and your viewership will build over time.