Building Authentic Connections With Consumers by Live Streaming

Building Authentic Connections With Consumers by Live Streaming


Live streaming has become one of the most popular forms of entertainment today. Twitch, in particular, saw a 98% growth in viewership between 2019 and 2020. It ties into the digital ecosystem built and maintained by digital content creators. It also provides a more interactive experience for audiences. Entire business models and new media industries have been developed around creating live-streamed content. 

In many ways, live streaming is an agile and effective marketing tool. If you’re striving to forge positive and lasting connections with your demographic — and you always should be — live streaming can help you make an impact. But this can’t just be a cynical and superficial attempt to take advantage of today’s popular media formats. Consumers tend to respond more enthusiastically if you use the platform to build authentic and meaningful connections. 

Let’s take a closer look at why live streaming can benefit your marketing efforts and how you can engage effectively.

Understand the Benefits

For all the accessibility of live streaming, doing it well and authentically takes some significant effort and investment from your marketing budget. So, it’s worth taking the time to establish the benefits of applying these methods.

Some of the key advantages include:

  • Open Communication

Live streams can be a source of direct and open communication between brands and consumers. It’s an opportunity to discuss new products, changes in the company, and important operational aspects. It’s also a method to express the values of the company in a way that — when handled authentically — resonates with consumers. The interactive nature of live streaming also means this form of marketing can become more of a dialogue in nature. This last, in particular, is something live streaming has over video on demand (VoD) and other types of video content. 

  • Customer Support

Authentic connections made through live streaming can extend the role of video from pure entertainment or information into a key form of customer support. The comments sections of your broadcasts are points of immediate connection and response for consumers. Not to mention that the subject of live streams can be geared toward answering frequently asked questions (FAQs) or providing operational instructions. 

  • Analytics Gains

Each time a consumer connects to you through your online platforms, this leaves a digital trail of valuable data. Live streaming can be an important format for insights. You get to have a better understanding of what demographics are actively engaging with not just your business but specific topics and niche areas of your offerings. It’s also a great opportunity to gain feedback in real-time without depending on surveys.

Use Brand Visuals

Live streaming is a primarily visual medium. You can’t just rely on the content of your streams to make an authentic connection with your consumers. Your efforts need to utilize the visual elements of your brand intentionally and holistically. This can help to bolster clarity and trust among your consumer base.

This begins with being very clear that there is a business intention behind your streams. There is a lot of attention around the importance of being open with consumers about sponsored or business-related content. Making certain there are clear visual examples of your branding helps to clarify the presence of your business even when you’re using popular influencers or third parties. It also creates a direct connection between the content and your brand.

However, you should remember that visual language isn’t just about the logos you use. Some simple elements to make sure your live stream background remains professional can influence consumers’ first impressions of your brand. These also send distinct messages to your audience. Keeping the area clean of clutter removes distractions and telegraphs your commitment to clarity. Your lighting choices can draw attention to areas you feel your consumers will be interested in. Softer light and color options can also make your stream more comfortable and accessible to those who experience challenges with jarring visual stimuli.

Consider Your Surroundings

Just because you’re live streaming for a business, this doesn’t mean you need to rent fancy studio space to do so. Indeed, this kind of environment may well have a distancing effect on your consumers and can feel somewhat false. You can add an element of authenticity by streaming from your business premises and giving an honest impression of where the behind-the-scenes aspects of your operation occur.

This can be especially effective when you’re marketing the small business you operate remotely from your home. Many people can relate to the limitations of running your enterprise or job from the spare room or kitchen. If you’re on a tight budget, you can add some affordable decorative touches to your home office space to make an appropriate surrounding for streaming. If you want to accentuate the coziness of your brand, a low-priced loveseat or sofa can be a good place to host from. Even an inexpensive dining room set can establish a relaxed desk area for interviews.

Encourage Interactions

For a lot of consumers, the value of live streaming doesn’t just come from watching a brand representative talk at them for an hour. There’s something more intimate about live streaming. You’re interacting with your consumers in their own homes and — perhaps most importantly — it’s not a one-way street. They want to have meaningful interactions with you during and surrounding the stream.

You have to make genuine efforts to encourage interaction here. This means going beyond the usual marketing tactic of including a question in the stream subject line or description to prompt engagement. Build opportunities for discussion at points throughout the stream. Invite responses and take time to respond to them. Make the stream about genuine engagement. Show appropriate enthusiasm and interest for your audience’s ideas. 

This approach doesn’t have to begin and end with the body of the stream itself, either. You can include your audience in the planning of your streams. Reach out to them through your social channels. Ask what they would like to know about your products, services, company, or industry. Note their responses to your recent streams and direct future stream topics to what they found engaging as a result. This can help them feel more meaningfully connected to your business and your content. 

Keep Things Safe and Positive

As positive as live streaming can be for everyone involved, there are some negative elements. Maintaining an authentic connection with your consumer audience has to involve protecting them to some degree from these aspects. It helps to show you genuinely care about their online experience and mental wellbeing. 

Many of the negative live streaming elements will come from trolls. Indeed, as a business-led stream, you may be particularly susceptible to this. These negative users may be irritating and disruptive for your business but they can also be potentially harmful to members of your audience. You need to put in place strict protocols to deal with trolls as they arise. 

Start by learning about the early signs someone is being disrespectful to you or your audience. This might be through minimizing your achievements or even dismissing the ideas of your company, your stream host, or the consumers that are engaging with you. Where possible, you should have a separate moderator in charge of looking out for signs of trolling and implementing warnings or block actions as needed.

Some trolls may also become cybersecurity threats during your live stream. They may seek to hack your streaming platform account to gain control of the stream or access to the data about your audience. They may even post links to malware or ransomware in the comments section of your stream. You can prevent the former by maintaining two-factor authentication on your streaming accounts. The latter should be handled immediately by your moderator and you may be able to block responses with links entirely.

Conclusion

Authentic connections with your consumers help to build more meaningful and long-term relationships. Live streaming can be an effective tool for encouraging engagement with your business. To make the most of the benefits, it’s important to pay close attention to your approach to branding visuals and the environment you’re streaming in. Empower your audience to interact with you and take steps to keep them safe during your streams. The digital landscape has great marketing opportunities; live streaming can see you make impactful connections.