‘Go long if you need to’: viewers watch live streaming longer than pre-recorded content

Many brands have been avoiding live streaming because they have not been able to figure out how to make it work for them. Alex Hayes looks at some of the tips handed out by successful Periscoper Mario Armstrong.

When it comes to live streaming you can’t argue with the Mario Armstrong, founder of the Never Settle Club.

In recent months Armstrong claims to have massively increased the popularity of his site, which hands out digital lifestyle tips to people, by engaging regularly with followers on streaming services.

And the first advantage he points to with live streaming over recorded video is the amount of time people actually spend on live streams versus pre-recorded stuff.

“My theory on this is we have been in ‘appetizer mode’ for too long,” he says.

“We have been force-fed short stuff with the whole idea that long stuff doesn’t really matter to a lot of people because we’re all convinced we’ve got short attention spans, because other people are convincing us we have short attention spans.

“We didn’t always have short attention spans, we don’t have short attention spans now, but everyone is copycatting because they think it’s what everyone wants.

“And when you copycat, there’s no innovation or opportunities.

“Live video is being watched longer, 20 minutes on average versus recorded content – which is two to three minutes.”

Armstrong's slide demonstrating the time spent watching video content

“We don’t have short attention spans, but everyone is copycatting because they think it’s what everyone wants”

While Armstrong is a polished presenter – appearing regularly on US TV networks such as The Digital Lifestyle Expert – his first lesson in his SXSW presentation was simple: if you don’t feel comfortable appearing on the live stream, don’t.

As he puts it: “You don’t have to put a face on live streaming, it will work as well if you can show the thing you’re filming.”

But he also pointed to some people who had been using streaming for professional purposes who had built up their sales and leads by being the front person for their brand.

“Talk to anyone who live streams and they will tell you that the community that can be built is unlike any other community that’s been built before,” he says. “It’s faster and more connected than your Twitter relationships and your Facebook relationships.

“When people get to see you they get to see into your world, see your hand and body communication and feel they are getting into your psyche. That makes them closer to knowing you, and more likely to buy.

“It fast-forwards relationships and breaks down all barriers faster than any pre-recorded video can.”

But he also points out it’s not all about short-term goals, showing examples of people who had used their content to build communities.

What are the opportunities in streaming? Armstrong points to thought leadership, product demonstrations and Q&As as some of the things brands are doing to increase their sales.

He also drew out two other areas which it is being used for:

  1. Internal training – Offices and teams and employees in other places are getting everyone on the same page and getting them trained at the same time.
  2. Activations – “How do we shift the mindset from just showing activations to creating something based around that we’re live streaming?”. According to Armstrong you get more engagement, get closer to your viewers, get behind the scenes and get behind the narrative.

Quality is also a major opportunity for brands to make their content really pop.

“Live streaming is wide open for you to go in and really kill it,” says Armstrong. “The barriers to entry are zero, but it means there’s a ton of crap being shown. But you have to spend time thinking about the right tools.”

Choosing the right platform is also key. And if you’re using Meerkat, stop now.

Periscope – the platform owned by Twitter, usurped Meerkat rapidly after launching last April, and has built up a decent user base.

Armstrong points to some of the advantages of the platform including the ability to shoot in landscape and portrait modes, as well as seeing the feedback from users layered on the screen along with likes, in the shape of hearts.

The benefits of Periscope and Facebook Live platforms (click to enlarge)

The benefits of Periscope and Facebook Live platforms (click to enlarge)

The other major player in the game at the moment is the recently launched Facebook Live, which launched at the end of last year and has now spread to 30 countries, including Australia.

Armstrong points to stats showing Facebook Live content is three times more likely to be seen than pre-recorded video because the tech giant has tweaked its algorithm to promote it to the top of people’s news feeds.

Facebook Live is currently limited to portrait mode, and as Armstrong points out, lacks the interaction of Periscope, with live comments appearing only below the feed.

He also mentioned a few other platforms, notably YouTube Live, a platform that allows people to feed in up to six live camera feeds – allowing viewers to watch the feed they want and to take control of the content for themselves.

But his final word harks back to a current buzz topic in marketing: authenticity.

“A lot of brands want to be on top of what’s trending – that’s a mistake,” he says.

“When you force yourself into something that’s not quite the right fit, it damages you. When you can hold off and wait for the right thing to pop that really is in your orbit, that’s when you see content take off.

“Doing things live means it’s happening in the moment and going live with it brings your content on top of everything else.”

Alex Hayes in Austin


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