The power of video is undeniable.

Regardless of which type of video strategy you pursue in content marketing, stat after stat points to the medium’s ability to engage consumers and increase conversions.

Even die-hard wordsmiths must come to terms with the fact that a majority of individuals will opt for a video before reading text.

However, beyond tried-and-true studio productions and animated clips, a new frontier has opened up: live video.

Whether through Facebook Live or Twitter’s Periscope app, data shows audiences are paying attention. In fact, Social Media Today reported individuals spend three times longer watching live video on Facebook when compared to pre-recorded presentations. Facebook even went so far as to update its platform to help live videos rank higher in people’s News Feeds.

Part of the draw for consumers may be live video’s inherent excitement, as anything could happen. Instead of reading off scripts, individuals are mixing it up in the moment and reacting in real time. Another component is live video’s intrinsic authenticity. It allows people to engage directly with businesses without the well-manicured airbrushing of pre-recorded video.

Live video shouldn't be overly choreographed, but don't skimp on basics like good lighting.

Live video shouldn’t be overly choreographed, but don’t skimp on basics like good lighting.

“Live video is becoming an increasingly popular and fun way for companies to show off what they are up to,” said Erin Hancock, Associate Manager of Brafton’s Promotions and Engagement team. “Whether they’re broadcasting live from a conference, sharing industry tips, or showing off fun things happening around the office, live video is the perfect way to display the human side of a company.”

While far from the only games in town, Facebook and Twitter’s live-streaming capabilities make the most sense for content marketers hoping to engage a wide audience.

Facebook Live may win out over Periscope due to their larger user base, but the Periscope app comes with its own unique features, such as the ability to broadcast via GoPro.

Whether you use one or both, the key is focusing on audience engagement.

Live video as TV

For marketing professionals unsure how best to leverage live video, it may be handy to imagine companies as television networks. Your brand is its own CNN, only instead of 24/7 news programming, your live video can be devoted to outreach and influence via:

  • Audience Q&As.
  • Company announcements.
  • Product and service introductions.
  • Interviews with internal and external thought leaders.
  • Special events.
  • Live video blogs.

“Live streaming on social platforms is blurring the line between television broadcast and internet video content, and live reporting of events is now within reach for businesses of any size, on any budget,” said Perry Leenhouts, Brafton Senior Creative Director.

Also, as pointed out by Brafton Director of Video Product Jim Davis, live video is an excellent way to connect with narrower market segments around the world.

“We’re in a peak era of specialization and globalization,” Jim said. “Niche remote communities now exist where there was no venue to organize before (there are multiple blogs dedicated to different knitting patterns for kitten mittens). Gatherings, conferences and industry powwows can now be attended by people across the globe, in real time. When a group gets together to share ideas, magic can occur – and live streaming video is the ideal way to capture this lightning in a bottle.”

Ultimately, the primary focus of live video should be interacting with viewers. Consumers can react in real time to broadcasts by commenting and asking questions. Regardless of how you leverage this technology, ensure you’re accounting for audience feedback and responding accordingly in your broadcast.

“Live streaming on social platforms is blurring the line between television broadcast and internet video content.”

Live video pitfalls

As with any content marketing strategy, there are certain mistakes to avoid, including:

Launching prematurely

Successful live streaming requires the proper equipment and a sturdy internet connection. Play around with lighting and test video setup before broadcasting. Ensure you have the connection functionality to transmit smoothly.

Failing to plan ahead

You definitely don’t want your live videos to be too studied (an overly orchestrated event takes away from the fun of broadcasting live). At the same time, streaming live without a game plan is a recipe for disaster. Create an outline for your video but leave room for spontaneous changes and audience interaction.

Relying on sales pitches

Do not use live video as a sales platform. You may be running your own TV network, but that doesn’t mean you need to program infomercials. Effective content demonstrates value and builds trust with consumers, regardless of the medium. Apply the same good judgement you would use when crafting a blog post to creating a live video. Some are bound to be more promotional than others, but you should be able to show, not tell.

Moving too fast

When on camera, many people’s nerves lead them to revert to speed-talking. Take your time and try to present at a natural, leisurely pace. Also keep in mind that not everyone will be joining a live broadcast at the same time. This makes it important to regularly recap what’s already occurred for viewers just joining in.

Live video is a relatively new content marketing channel, but its potential is clear. If you keep audience engagement top of mind and do your best to avoid common pitfalls, live video can be an excellent addition to your content marketing arsenal.

Eric Wendt is a writer and editor at Brafton. He discovered his love of words after realizing he was terrible at math. If he's not updating his Tumblr with poetry he's too embarrassed to share, there's a good chance he's out in search of the perfect pale ale.