Since YouTube first came to our desktop screens in 2005, there has been an explosion of video content on social media. More video content is uploaded online in a single month than TV has created in three decades, and by 2020 video traffic will account for 82% of all consumer Internet traffic. As of today, Facebook generates 8 billion daily video views, which is up 700% from three years ago.
The popularity of digital videos has had an unprecedented effect on social media marketing, with brands often prioritising video over other digital tactics. In fact, 83% of marketers would create more video content if it wasn’t for time and resource restraints.
What’s more, in the past couple of years we’ve seen online video evolve beyond the traditional viewing experience. A major game changer in online video marketing came in 2015 with the launch of two live social video platforms; Periscope and Meerkat. These channels showed the power of live social video as a way to engage a broad audience with content that felt authentic, natural and in-the-moment.
Now nearly every social media channel offers some form of live streaming, with social users increasingly craving for ‘in-the-moment’ content.
Feeding a Consumer Need for Authenticity and Gratification
As stated by Nadia Boujarwah, CEO of Dia&Co, “So much of what’s driven marketing and brand communications in the past is based on what’s aspirational, but what’s resonating most now is what’s authentic”.
One of the biggest drivers in the popularisation of social media marketing is the opportunity to cultivate a closer connection between brands and their customers / potential customers. Social has given brands an opportunity to have a two-way discussion with their community, presenting greater transparency. This is something that consumers strongly engage with — with 63% of social users stating they would buy from an authentic brand over a brand that isn’t perceived as honest.
Live video expands this further, allowing brands to present an unfiltered and unedited view of themselves. Plus-sized fashion brand, Dia&Co, have embraced this mindset, using Facebook Live as a way of presenting their brand ideology through styling suggestions, trend discussions and event coverage. The brand has specifically found that it is the ‘liveness’ of their content that drives their community to engage — with their videos regularly getting over 300 comments.
As well as feeding consumer’s need for instant gratification, live video drives a trajectory of instantaneous sharing and interactions. This creates a dopamine loop, in which two systems, ‘wanting’ (dopamine) and ‘liking’ (opioid) are activated. Often people will find the dopamine system stronger than the opioid system, therefore they will tend to seek more than are satisfied.
Psychologist Ben Yoyer claims that live video heightens this appetite as “often live streams feature dramatic or attention grabbing events, and our mind gets hooked to the idea that something extra ordinary could happen anytime. We don’t want to switch off, in case something could happen”.
Luxury fashion designers Tommy Hilfiger, Prabal Gurung and Thakoon have all utilised Instagram Live to provide their followers with raw and unfiltered behind-the-scenes streams during Fashion Weeks. While live streaming has been popular at Fashion Week since 2010 (when Burberry first live streamed their catwalk show), this content has typically been available post-moment, as a recorded version. However, as Instagram Live is completely ephemeral, viewers are more compelled to stay tuned as to be fully gratified.
Consumers have always gained some form of satisfaction from live social content. Before the launch of Meerkat and Persicope, Twitter was seen as the principle live social platform. Within five years the channel had gained 100 million monthly users, which has now accelerated to 310 million. As the general public flock to live social platforms like Twitter, brands have exploited these channels to create a closer connection with their community — as seen with 88% of companies with more than 100 employees active on Twitter.
As social media has demonstrated itself to be a powerful tool for marketing — with 59% of businesses planning to increase social marketing spend in 2017 — brands will constantly look to one-up their competitors by adopting the latest innovations. With live video getting 3x more views than pre-recorded videos, brands will increasingly look to use live streaming in order to improve reach and generate greater engagement.