Facebook Live – the social media giant's live video streaming platform – recently launched Continuous Live Video, a 24-hour live streaming service.
Previously live streams were limited to 90 minutes, but with the launch of this new service it is possible to have much longer videos. The only tradeoff is that videos cannot be saved or shared.
Given the popularity of live videos, which get 3 times more time spent than recorded videos, the new Facebook feature presents a great opportunity for businesses to interact with their target audience in real time.
Videos are an integral part of Facebook's vision for the future and the statistics also point to a massive surge in the consumption of video content on the platform. Towards the end of 2015, Facebook attracted 8 billion average daily video views from 500 million users.
They have also adjusted their algorithm so that live videos appear higher in the news feed, giving businesses all the more reason to go live.
Here are 11 ways that businesses can use Facebook's Continuous Live video for higher customer engagement.
1. Show customers what to expect
A retail business for instance, can give customers a taste of the in-store ambience and superior experience that awaits them through a dedicated live stream from the store. The stream can be made more interesting by having staff talk about the merits of specific products and use cases. Staff can even announce bargains of the day, respond to queries and accept orders.
Bark Box, which ships a monthly box of dog goodies to subscribers, recently live streamed from the world's first store, where dogs are the shoppers and humans follow. The stream which attracted over 72,000 views, gives viewers a taste of what to expect at the store.
Hotels can provide potential guests with a live stream of the view they can expect to see from different rooms. Potential guests can take in views of the golf course, the beach, the gym etc. while deciding if the property is apt for their stay.
A cold meats factory that is proud of its high production standards, can provide a continuous live stream to show customers the effort that goes into the processing and packaging of their favorite meat products. Showing the customer a live view of what is happening can help to build credibility and trust, even more than what can be gained through paid channels.
For example, in one of its live streams on Facebook, Dunkin' Donuts gave its fans a tour of its test kitchen and showcased the construction of a donut wedding cake. The live stream attracted over 37,000 views.
2. Provide video customer care
Live streaming can also be adapted for round-the-clock video customer care, giving your customers the option to interact with a human representative. Using a live stream for customer care can bring your brand closer to customers as the interaction is immediate, more intimate and transparent.
Mark Zuckerberg's Q&A's on live streams, like the one below, are good examples of how the platform can be used to answer customer questions and deliver a personal touch.
3. Run live online courses
You can run online courses for customers as a value added service. For instance, a company manufacturing photographic equipment can offer online courses that teach customers how to capture spectacular photos and videos. In fact, you can keep the course open to all your Facebook fans, so that even potential customers will be drawn to your equipment, when they see the amazing results that can be achieved with your products.
A recruitment agency can offer tips on CV writing, facing job interviews, body language etc. and answer the questions in real-time, and the best part is they can have different members of the team tackle various topics throughout the day or the week. During the interactions itself they can ask viewers what topics they would like addressed in the coming days.
Benefit Cosmetics, a brand owned by LVMH, runs an immensely popular weekly live stream, where the host and an invited guest share beauty tips and advice. They also respond to viewer questions. With Facebook Continuous Live, these sessions can be extended till all the questions of the viewers are answered. In fact, Facebook itself recommends keeping the live stream open for longer durations as it attracts a higher viewership.
4. Enhance convenience and transparency
Businesses that specialize in made-to-order products that are developed and delivered at short notice can also use live streaming to their advantage.
For example, a bakery can use the live stream to help a customer decide on the right cake for a special occasion and then let them watch the preparation and baking live, right up to the point when the delivery guy walks out of the door with the cake.
You can achieve amazing engagement levels by giving your customers an unmatched access to your business. Customers will appreciate the convenience of being able to select exactly what they want and have their questions answered at the same time without having to leave their homes.
Inviting the customer into your kitchen or back-office shows that you have nothing to hide and they can expect to receive a product or service exactly as advertised.
5. Boost sales
A designer brand can provide a live stream of their latest collection and customers will be able to place orders even as the models walk the ramp.
Brands can maintain their exclusivity by targeting the live stream to a specific geographic area or even age-group using the built-in settings of Facebook live.
The live streaming feature can be used for getting feedback on a new product line. A business can interact with its followers and get their opinion or even crowdsource ideas for product improvements.
7. Show project status
A commercial real estate developer can provide a real-time update of the construction status with a live stream from a work site. The project credibility goes up when people can view first-hand what is happening on site. It can be made more interesting by having the site manager interact with viewers and answer questions.
For example, GE's livestreams from the RIO 2016 Olympic Games, provide fans with an exclusive view of the infrastructure and technology behind the event. An event such as the Olympics is perfect for round-the-clock streaming, given the massive global interest in the event and once continuous live video becomes more popular, we can hope to see more global brands switching to this format.
8. Get media coverage
Your live stream can catch the attention of the media as well, and lead to coverage for your business in local online and print publications.
In fact, if you announce a new innovative product line first on your live stream, word will get out fast and attract the attention of key stakeholders including the media.
9. Product launches and demos
Live streams are perfect for product launches, giving your diehard fans the first peek into your latest product.
Live streaming from a car showroom can help potential customers get up close and personal with their dream vehicles. Even a demo of the car in actual driving conditions can be live streamed and questions can be answered while also highlighting the unique facets of the latest model.
Chevrolet's live stream unveiling the all-electric 2017 Bolt EV at the CES 2016 attracted over 55,000 views, showing how the platform can be leveraged effectively for a new product launch.
A printer manufacturer can explain in detail the functions of its latest product and even show a demonstration of how to get the most out of the printer. Even challenges relating to setup can be easily addressed through the interactive sessions.
IHOP, the family restaurant chain's Facebook live stream of pancakes on a beach went viral and became the brand's top social video ever. The brand setup the Facebook live stream to engage customers and draw focus to the pancakes.
With 385,000 video views, the effort was IHOP's top-performing social video. The minimalist video showed pancakes set in a paradise environment with different characters popping in and out to show that it was a live stream and not a video playing on an endless loop.
10. Show your event live
With the 90-minute time limit lifted, you can now conveniently live stream an entire event or conference to your fans on Facebook. Even those who are overseas can benefit from the insights shared at the event.
McDonald's recently live streamed an art show titled 'The Starving Artist', where it unveiled three paintings as part of the National Hamburger Day celebrations. McDonald's first foray into Facebook Live, the stream reached 884, 300 people in 40 minutes according to the figures shared by the brand. So live streaming an event can extend reach to a much larger audience and achieve massive engagement.
11. Run contests
You can live stream a contest and even your Facebook fans can participate by responding to questions that you can specifically reserve for them.
A car-touching competition for instance is perfectly suited for live streaming. There is no telling how long the competition can run as it's a test of personal endurance.
We would like to hear about other creative ways in which businesses can use Facebook's 24-Hour Live Streaming. Share your thoughts below.
Guest Author: Aju Jacob is a digital strategist with skills spanning marketing, media, communications and digital technology. On his blog, Digital Newsbreak, he shares actionable insights on how everyday businesses can leverage digital marketing for business growth. You can also follow him on Twitter @aju_jacob.
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