In the internet age, the world has a bit of a double-edged relationship with personal connections. Social media has made us simultaneously more and less personally connected with others; we both feel the freedom to share more of ourselves with the public than in any prior human society and feel more disconnected from each other in the process.
But there’s one kind of content that circumvents this paradox: live social media content. These are the Twitch streams, Twitter spaces, and Instagram live stories of the world – places where people can share a live version of themselves with huge audiences in a casual context.
These can be incredible opportunities for businesses of all kinds due to the medium’s ease of use and capacity for significant two-way engagement with audiences.
The Context: Where We’ve Been
Live functions have been a part of social media for well over a decade, but it is only within the past five years that they have gained true prominence. Twitch, likely the oldest platform dedicated to live social media, has been around since 2011. But Facebook Live, Instagram Live, and Twitter Spaces are much more recent developments.
In 2020 and 2021, these platforms went from prominent to dominant as the pandemic forced people inside and away from traditional means of interpersonal community. Savvy businesses jumped on this train early, marketing their products and developing customer relationships through this newly-ascendant medium.
Why We’re Expecting a Further Bloom
Sometimes, soon after a tech trend becomes prominent, it reveals itself to be nothing more than a fad. Other times, it continues its influence grows and grows until it becomes a fixture of public life. We’re predicting that live social media content is a part of the latter category, that it is still growing, and that this year will significantly determine its future.
We think this for two primary reasons. First, it has massive potential. It combines ease of use for creators with ease of integration with existing structures and a unique kind of content for audiences. Given those three factors, we think it still has a long way to grow.
The second reason is the current cultural context. The world is currently transitioning out of the homebound quarantines where live social media work first skyrocketed. So this year will determine whether it fades or finds a long-term purchase. At the same time, the mainstream force of business is catching up to the massive potential discussed above.
This combination of factors creates fertile soil for an abundant harvest of success.
What That Looks Like
Here’s what we think that will look like concretely:
- As businesses realize that this content is here to stay, demand for live social media marketing will increase significantly.
- That increase in demand will bring about the rise of micro-influencers in the live market.
- Twitch will further diversify its content profile beyond gaming as businesses seek more outlets for live content.
- The platforms that will benefit most from this change will be the ones with the capacity for high demographic specificity (TikTok and Instagram live) and ones with unique forms of audience engagement (Twitter Spaces and Clubhouse).
Kinds of Business-Relevant Live Social Media Content
There are several ways you can “go live” with your audience. These vary in outlet, style, and goal. The best one for your business will depend on a combination of your strategic goals in general, your strategic goals from social media marketing, the sort of business you run, and the resources you have at your disposal.
These are some of the most popular forms of live social media content. They’re often successful and require minimal effort on the part of the business. In an influencer partnership, your company will seek out an influencer who can do live sessions on your behalf.
One way to approach these is to team up with an influencer for active marketing sessions – these are times set aside for the influencer to promote your product. This can include a product review, a brand shout-out, or even a live interview with a lead product designer.
These active live sessions will typically manifest in one of two ways: either you plan a live event based around your product with the influencer, or you can request a portion of one of their typical live streams to be set aside for an advertisement for your product.
The other way to approach this is by establishing a long-term relationship with a streamer willing to insert subtle promotions for your product into their content. The precise nature of the promotions would depend on what kind of product or service you offer.
This is easiest if the thing you sell is related to one of the popular live stream content segments like gaming, art, or cosmetics.
Town Hall Style Events
Here, you will draw on your existing audience to attempt to learn more about them, their feelings about your product, and their feelings about potential future changes or releases. These town hall events can act as a kind of focus group without requiring the typical effort and cost in putting those together.
You can also approach live social media marketing through the lens of relationship generation. This works best if your product is helped by a personal connection between the seller and their potential buyers. Here, the goal is to develop parasocial relationships between some of the people on your team and your audience members.
This can be accomplished by several different means but is best navigated through casual entertainment. That can look like playing a game with some audience members (several online games playable in this format popped up in the past year) or discussing your favorite bands with them.
Sales and Information Sessions
In a virtual sales event, either an employee of your company or an authorized influencer representative hosts a live session wherein they sell your product or service to the audience. This can manifest in a few different concrete ways – providing product information to viewers, answering questions, or offering sales pitches.
These tend to work best if you have a way of making them additionally entertaining – trivia games, prizes, that sort of thing.
What This Means For You
If we’re right on this, the businesses that jump on board this train early will profit most. Right now is the time to start brainstorming and strategizing, figure out if live social media marketing works well for your business goals, and begin to implement it if it does.