Social media has leveled the playing field in marketing, allowing small business owners the chance to reach huge audiences. But anyone who's actually tried to build a social media following knows that it's often easier said than done. The internet is a crowded place.
That's why social media live streaming is so compelling for small businesses. For those that make an effort and do it right, it offers a way to cut through the noise of all the other posts and tweets online, capturing viewers' attention and making a bigger impression overall.
Here are three key reasons why live streaming works well for small businesses:
It's Incredibly Easy to Get Started
Live streaming costs are negligible: All you need is a smartphone and a social media account that offers live stream tools. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and others make it easy by offering instructions on how to start — usually, it just requires the tap of a button.
Read through online tutorials before you broadcast your first live video, so you appear confident and professional on camera. Beyond that, look for live social media tips online or from other business owners to get creative and engage your followers.
It Opens up Real-Time Communication With Customers
While you're streaming — for example, demonstrating a product or showcasing an event — you can see comments and questions on your own social media feed and answer them instantly on camera.
It can be tough to both read through your questions and come up with articulate answers on the fly, so collaborate with one of your partners or colleagues during the live stream. One person can read the question and you can both answer as a team. That relieves the pressure of doing it all yourself, and opens up the possibility of easy chitchat between the two of you to create a more approachable face to your company.
You Can Integrate Promotions or Calls to Action Directly Into the Viewing Experience
At the end of your live video stream, direct your viewers to take an action — the more specific and immediate, the better. For example, post or tweet a link to your newsletter sign-up sheet and direct your viewers to sign up, or post a coupon code good for $10 off their next purchase at your store and encourage them to use it.
Remember: These benefits all depend on your live stream being engaging to your audience. Make a study of other business live streams on your chosen platform. What do they do well? What is the typical length of these videos? Use this research as a basis for your own video plans. Before you go live, do a recorded video as a rehearsal. That will allow you to see how your business comes across and make adjustments before showtime.
If done right, live streaming can be an effective way to make your company distinctive in the minds of your audience. Play around with different ideas and keep trying even if you find it difficult at first — in this case, practice makes perfect.