Live video streaming isn’t a new phenomenon. Sites like Ustream and Livestream have been around for years. However, the newest craze with apps like Meerkat, Periscope and the newest shiny object, Blab, are making it so much easier and more compelling for the average person to use.
Anybody with a smartphone – which is upwards of 64% of all U.S. adults– essentially have a mini mobile TV studio in their pocket at anytime. This creates a new way to share experiences between groups and really the world as a whole. It also provides a new way to bridge relationships among like-minded people. Many of whom may have never had the chance to meet. This is probably the most true of Blab, compared to Meerkat and Periscope.
While the social media marketing crowd has been quick to take over all three apps, I’ve been surprised by just how few community managers are using or adopting these platforms. I predict this will change in a big way within the next couple of years. Live video forces you to be more authentic and transparent than any tweet, Facebook update or carefully curated Instagram photo ever could. In turn, it is a fantastic way to connect the online and offline experiences in a community.
Before I start talking about all the use cases that I can see community managers using, I thought I should share a bit about the newest live video streaming app, Blab. I recently had the chance to sit down with Blab’s Community Manager, Brittany Metz, to chat about what’s she building at Blab and community management in general. This was all recorded well else but on Blab. You can listen to the full audio recording here. Or, you can watch it on Blab here.
Of all the new live video apps, Blab is hands down the most conversational (And my personal favorite). Instead of just having one dude or dudette on the stream broadcasting. Each broadcast is designed to have 2-4 people. Each person is in a “Brady Bunch style square,” and then viewers can chime in by leaving comments and even joining in live if one of the squares is vacant and the host approves them. This contributes to the overall conversional and communal tone.
While the platforms will inevitably continue to change and more may show up and take their place, I see the usage of live video streaming continuing to grow rapidly. I think one of the reasons why the adoption rate among brands is slower than other trends is that it forces you to be authentic and in the moment, and you have the least amount of perceived control. The irony is that perceived control you have over your carefully edited Facebook posts that go through three departments including legal is an all illusion. As you have relatively no control over how people may react to it once it’s live.
Whether you run a marketplace, a hobbyist community or a customer support community, etc, I can see a bunch of use cases where live video can play an integral part in the overall community strategy. Here’s 11 potential examples.
1. Live Podcast Recordings as well as Q&As/Aftershows
This is probably the most obvious idea for how you can leverage live video for your branded community especially if you already have a podcast or a weekly interview series.
While I suspect this may change as more people start using these platforms, the most successful and innovative uses of this are from a few of the leaders in the social media marketing crowd. If you haven’t already, I would recommend checking out what Brian Fanzo and Joel Comm are doing in particular with Blab.
As a bit of a foodie, one of the coolest use cases I’ve seen so far is what Chef Lizette, who has appeared on the Food Network several times including on my absolute favorite show, Cutthroat Kitchen, is doing on Meerkat and now Blab. She’s hosting real-time, fully interactive cooking demos.
If you manage a technical community or a customer support community, tutorials and crowdsourcing knowledgebase articles and guides can be a lifesaver. You probably know of at least 10 questions that people are always asking about your product or a specific topic in your community. Why not host an interactive tutorial for each of those topics? These can either be run by you or your team or directly by vetted members in the community.
There’s no shortage of examples for how this is already being used on all three platforms, from tutorials on Photoshop and ManyCam to AfterEffects and even how to use Blab and Periscope. So meta, I know.
4. Real Time Customer Service
This is the one that personally gets me the most excited. Having a few members on your support team on standby to bounce in, answer questions and solve problems on the spot through video chatting has the potential to create a deep, memorable and emotional connection to a brand. Think about it? If you were hosting a blab about Photoshop features that you would like to see and it got really popular with over 100 viewers at one time, and someone from Adobe’s support team randomly jumped into your chat and listed out three ways to do something that you didn’t think was possible before. That experience is probably going to stand out as a memorable, awesome experience. You are probably going to talk about it to at least a few people and be more likely to recommend Photoshop to more and more of your friends. Adobe is going to win because they just won a customer for life and probably a few more new customers from everyone that person chats with. This probably sounds extreme especially if your support stops and ends with a traditional call center and email support. I do think video chatting is the wave of the future for customer support. Maybe not next year, but certainly in 5 years, it will be far more common.
As extreme as this sounds, this is already happening in smaller doses. The best example I’ve seen is what Blab is doing internally (See the screenshot above). While chatting with Brittany, I learned that Blab has a built-in internal help command, where if someone tags @help in a chat, it automatically sends a notification to the entire Blab team (most likely in Slack). If there is a legit support issue, you will often see a Blab team member (in many times, that’s Brittany herself) show up within a matter of minutes in that particular Blab to troubleshoot the issue. The responsiveness and helpfulness of that team is off-the-chains awesome. I’m sure you are thinking, that’s great but Blab’s still in beta and relatively small. You’re right this method is not scalable if you are Dell or Amazon. However, with the right processes in place, you should still be thinking about how you can use live video to better connect and help your customers or community members.
5. Community Office Hours
You are probably talking to upwards of dozens of community members each day through a variety of online and offline channels. While you shouldn’t stop doing this, one way to make this more scalable as your community grows is to host weekly office hours, where anyone can pop in and ask questions. Live video is a great venue for this format, as it adds another layer of authenticity and transparency to the mix.
6. Community AMAs
This is similar to the office hours idea, only inside of with you and your team. It’s with either a high-level member of your community or maybe an executive in your company. Or maybe it’s taking the webinars that your marketing team already produces and changes them into a more casual AMA format.
This one is fairly self explanatory. If you can’t meet with your mastermind peers in person (obviously the best way to develop real relationships and rapport), video is the next best thing. Phone and text chats are distant thirds and fourths.
8. TV Commentary (Before, During and Post-Show)
I’ve seen a little bit of this with live sports and politics. But, I think Blab in particular could explode in popularity as the presidential election gets closer. In particular, commentary after debates.
This doesn’t just apply to politics and sport games, but any live TV show. You see people tweeting all the time during the latest episode of just about any show from Game of Thrones and True Detective to The Bachelor and Dance Moms. It’s just natural that those same conversations will bleed into live video with time.
9. Live Music Jam Sessions
I know people have tried this before with Google Hangouts on Air. It never really works because of the time lags between speakers. However as the technology continues to get better and better, I think live, collaborative music sessions will be a big opportunity for both professional and amateur musicians.
10. Streaming Breaking News On The Ground
There’s a huge opportunity to stream news on the ground for both journalists and citizen journalists. With the viral nature of Meerkat and Periscope in particular, a lot of news will break on these platforms.
11. Endless opportunities to showcase creative campaigns.
You don’t necessarily have to be famous to be heard on these platforms. These platforms are still new enough where great content with the right level of promotion will shine through regardless of whether you are a celebrity or an average joe living in small town Nebraska.
Some of the coolest examples already are impromptu charity auctions and an artist, who sketches all the Blabbers they watch and then posts it on Instagram.
With a little imagination and video tools like CamTwist and ManyCam, the sky is the limit for what you may be able to do on these platforms.
Have any questions about any of these tools or possible use cases? Please leave a comment below.
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