Since the COVID-19 pandemic took hold of the world in 2020, we have all had to find new ways to live while containing the spread of the virus. But, again, technology came to the rescue by allowing us all to work from home and stay in contact with loved ones via video calls.
Quickly, video parties and hangouts became the “new normal” and live-streamed concerts where artists performed remotely, and audiences attended from the comfort of their homes. This was a creative response from the entertainment sector, as social distancing measures included a cap on physical venue attendees or the complete ban of in-person events.
According to research by Cisco, video traffic will quadruple, and video will account for 82 percent of all web traffic. As a result, there has been an increased appetite and demand for new ways to explore content, and live streaming is expanding to meet consumers’ needs.
Monologue to Dialogue
Streaming in its purest form is the act of broadcasting by an individual, a group, or an event through live video.
Brands are noticing how live video can be beneficial to connect with users and their target audience, opening the door for live commerce, which is selling products online via live streaming videos, and social commerce, which is selling products online via Social Media. The entertainment sector is no different: Live video presents a unique opportunity for artists to perform to their audiences and interact in real-time.
It goes beyond a pre-recorded show as it allows for fans to comment and like while the show is ongoing – and performers can see those comments right away and interact directly with the audience. In addition to this, live streaming allows for a wider audience without borders, thereby increasing reach.
Before live-streaming, artists and fashion brands would record their shows and post them online for viewers to watch later. Live streaming revolutionized this format by allowing for real-time interaction. While the recorded content will become available later as a video, the interactions happen in real-time with comments, shares, and likes.
Such interaction adds value to shows, and many companies and artists have introduced virtual tickets to incorporate monetization and offer exclusive subscriber-only content. This also allows for new features to be introduced, such as AR, VR, and live shopping.
Live shopping is a growing trend, and it is being adopted by several brands, such as large retailers TUMI and Zalora. Additionally, other key players have entered the live streaming space early on, recognizing its potential.
The viewers and the recipients of live video have evolved over the past decade or so, and it really took off in China. Most of us are aware of how China uses live streaming and how it started as a social engagement where individuals could go and interact with their friends, family, and even build a small fan base.
There is a lot to learn from how China uses live video capabilities; for example, the most popular Chinese live streamers built their base by consistently posting live videos and engaging their audience. Most of them know their loyal fans by name and remember to call them out during every live session.
It is exciting to see how live streaming has grown into a unique opportunity for live commerce across the globe, adding more interactive capabilities. The benefit here is both ways, as the host gets to showcase and describe products in detail. At the same time, the audience can ask questions and have a full view of the merchandise – creating a smarter, more personalized shopping experience.
These features can contribute to a more immersive and authentic experience and encourage higher purchase intention by viewers. The key difference between live commerce and traditional e-commerce is that it allows brands to engage in more authentic interactions, build trust, and enhance brand awareness.
The rise of live commerce comes from consumer demand, with today’s buyers being more discerning about what they look for in an online shopping experience, as there are several options to choose from.
Armed with good content and high-quality live video streams, retailers can tap on the growth in consumer interest in “retailtainment” experiences. In addition, social commerce is also on the rise. Perhaps unsurprisingly, as everyone now has a social media presence – why not sell through social profiles?
A report by eMarketer forecasts that US retail, social commerce sales will rise by 34.8 percent to USD 36.09 billion in 2021, representing 4.3 percent of all retail e-commerce sales. This is particularly useful to digital influencers who can showcase products to their followers through their social accounts and sell quickly via the social stream.
This proves that live streaming is no longer seen as hype but a necessity for businesses, who recognize how it can be essential to ramp up their digital capabilities to keep consumers engaged and loyal to their brands.
While Social Media strategies for e-commerce businesses have been evolving, live streaming can complement them, and many brands are exploring it as a source of engagement and outreach. For example, if they have videos streaming on Facebook, the social platform actually promotes live streams much more than regular content on the newsfeed.
Therefore, it’s an easy way to gain traction when someone comments on a Facebook live stream, as in, when your friend comments, many more people are likely to see it. That’s an excellent way to engage, and the natural next step for brands would be to have their own live streaming feature to complement the existing digital properties.
In addition to brands’ digital strategies, customized live streaming platforms go a long way. It maintains specific brand elements making them more recognizable and allowing for safe payment directly through the personalized platform.
These trends also come into play now, making the audience a part of the content when it comes to the entertainment sector.
Many features can be implemented to encourage interaction and generate revenue, such as incorporating commerce from sponsors during concerts, virtual gifts for artists during the performance as added monetization (especially if the live-streamed concert is free of charge), and the use of live polls to request songs from the audience for artists to sing.
Besides scaling new monetization channels, performers can better create content and understand user behavior through data. For example, they can analyze the most popular songs, or the parts of the live stream with higher interactions, and fully understand their fans and what they are looking for.
It is essential to point out that other verticals within entertainment can benefit from live streaming shows. For example, while musicians may have found it as a way to maintain revenue during the COVID-19 pandemic, fashion brands also benefited from it by connecting with their customers as physical shops were closed.
However, the trend continues even as restrictions are lifted across the world. Live streaming proved to be an innovative way to engage with audiences, and the fashion industry is set to continue exploring it.
Some innovative campaigns include offering members-only behind-the-curtains peek at models’ prep and live Q&A with models, which may increase member sign-ups for this type of exclusive live stream peek.
Furthermore, live streaming platforms can be developed to meet the artist’s and brand’s specific needs with highly customized features for its users. Louis Vuitton, for example, unveiled its Women Fall-Winter 2022 Collection via live stream on 7 March 2022 from the Musée d’Orsay in Paris and reached 130 million viewers.
It’s worth mentioning that non-profit organizations can also benefit from live streaming. It creates a new channel to connect with people who want to help more and eliminates the geographical barrier, as anyone can donate from anywhere in the world with a simple click directly through the live stream.
All the new possibilities brought by live streaming showed that innovation is here to stay. Brands are accelerating digital transformation, while artists embrace new ways to connect with fans and generate revenue. At the same time, it is clear that users are hungry for new, more engaging content, opening new paths for remote content production to ensure the audience’s demands are met.
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