Why are live-streams gaining in popularity on virtual events?
Most of us are no longer strangers to live streams on virtual events as it has gradually become the new standard in holding large-scale events in the new-normal. However, the mass adoption of live-streams was always an ongoing effort to digitalise features of physical events as there is much to gain from live streams that are not apparent in traditional event formats. One of the most common livestream utility is a celebrity engagement or Q&A via Instagram live, where fans can send in comments and likes while the streamer is casually chit-chatting with a friend or responding to the comments. Since then, live-streams have taken new forms and what was once a purely communicative function has turned into advertising formats, educational toolkits and being part of the news cycle. The preference for live-streams gained traction when businesses realised how convenient it was to engage with their audience without having to spend large sums of money for events, not only is it cost-efficient, its scalability and accessibility enables a higher ROI and conversion rate.
The pandemic has essentially pushed the virtual events management industry into challenging spheres and as the industry tries to configure their next steps they’ve all had to tackle with the repercussions of the lockdowns differently. They have taken the onus to pivoting their strategies or uphauling the business model in order to survive but implications within the industry itself would differ from firm to firm. The shared implications would include reduced capacities due to social distancing and the complete cancellations of MICE events due to lockdowns and so in order to stay afloat, event management companies had to rapidly innovate.
What are the right tools and platforms for a livestream?
Depending on the event capacity and agenda objectives, there are a myriad of softwares and online tools to optimize the production of the livestream of virtual events. The commonly used tools are livestream platforms on social media applications as its convenience and free to use functions make it highly accessible and can attract a diverse audience.
Leverage on a digital marketing campaign
Before a live stream is broadcasted, it is important to promote the live-stream event to increase reach and create momentum on social media platforms. A successful live stream would have leveraged on a digital marketing campaign which focused on increasing registration count through brand pages. Some of the commonly used digital marketing strategies include e-posters on brand pages and getting public figures to participate in the countdown toward the event day.
Have you outlined the objectives of the livestream?
Outline the objective of a live stream by prioritising the agenda list, is the purpose of this livestream just to engage with the audience or is there a specific intention the business is trying to reach? Most livestream events are held by FMCG brands to announce the launch of a new product, educate consumers or simply to create hype. In more professional industries however, live streams usually take the form of industry-focused conferences, trade shows and engagements with leading industry figures. The takeaways depending on the objective of the livestream are all subjectively different and outlining the objectives streamlines the KPIs of the event. If the event is focused on selling a product or service, engagement rates that convert to leads and eventually sales figures would be an important indicator of performance. However, if the virtual events were informative, then perhaps long and productive academic discourse would be the figure to look out for.
Connectivity is the crux of a successful live stream event as it is the primary mode of delivery to the audience, performing a full ‘dress’ rehearsal with the actual production crew and actual equipment at the designated location should be part of the prep work. Remember that site testing can never be too comprehensive, it is important to check that the stream works smoothly on all mediums and portable devices that people might stream them on. From smartphones to tablets and wireless headphones, test delivery on commonly used audio set-ups and screens.
Take control of the environment
Following the agenda of the livestream and the treatment of the event format, decide on the recording space in which the livestream will take place. The production environment of a livestream is very much dependent on the scale of the event especially in formal events with large capacities as the production set-up would be massive and include elements that are familiar in professional industries. Whether the livestream is being recorded and modulated by the speaker themselves or a professional production crew, it is vital that the background noise is kept to a minimum for the audio receiving to be crisp. Investing in a decent audio set-up for live streams would be worth the while as a huge part of engaging the audience is communicated verbally and a quality audio set-up translates into great work ethic accompanied by professionally-curated content. In industries like entertainment or fast-moving consumer goods, the core of having a livestream is to attract viewership with the promise of an enjoyable time, such livestream formats are usually colored with casual tones and party accents.
Engage with your audience
Engaging with the audience via a live stream is a strategic and conscious effort that brands have to take to see results in engagement ratings. Businesses with no experience in conducting live streams always assume that engagement is a magical phenomenon that takes place when the stream starts. Contrary to that belief, high engagement rates during the event itself is a product of large amounts of grunt work put in before the event. Pre-event marketing would look a lot like optimising socials, strategizing a good content schedule and consistently putting out that content to refresh the news cycle. Engagement during the livestream looks a lot more different as it involves a lot more interaction with the audience, the streamer must be able to tactfully translate keypoints across while maintaining a professional and personable demeanour. During the livestream, it is important to ask questions and converse with the audience.
Consistency is key when it comes to building a following and it would be a wasted opportunity for brands to not establish a digital presence. Now more than ever, consumers are passively consuming content they see on the internet and with social media platforms being the first point of contact between a brand and its customers, it is practically free real estate for businesses to put themselves directly in front of consumers. Pop in on any self-help page and they would reiterate that consistency is key, but why? By consistently plugging the business/brand into the customer’s screen time, it builds a sense of familiarity and trust with the consumer. Over time, they would convert from passively consuming the brand’s content to actively spending with them and that is where a regular base of consumers are formed along with an established following on the brand’s page.
Remember to save and share
Facebook Live, Instagram and Youtube offer the option of saving a livestream session after it ends and by extending this feature across different social media platforms, it allows brands to maintain the momentum they have created around a campaign. Not only does this add value to the feed but it creates a completeness for consumers that have followed the brand page for quite some time as there is a proper beginning and end to each and every marketing campaign that they have launched.
Whether a live-stream is scripted or not, it is a must to end off the session with a strong call-to-action, giving the audience a gentle push and suggesting clear tangible ways in which they can support the brand summarises the entire agenda of the even As an added-bonus, leave your audience with questions to ponder on as this creates buzz that increases brand awareness and heightens the hype.