One of the major shifts in social media trends in the past few years is the proliferation of live streaming video and story platforms, which both have a high level of organic consumer engagement. Started on Periscope and Snapchat, respectively, these social media tools are now on Instagram and Facebook and available to a wider audience.
Trying any new social media platform is a bit daunting, but it doesn’t have to be paralyzingly scary. Below are tips from businesses that have had success with their stories and live video content.
1. Think about what you want to say. Before going live, you will feel much more comfortable if you spend a short amount of time thinking about what message you are trying to get across, which will reduce the “umms” and “uhhs.” Think about dates and times for upcoming promotions and events, contact information and more. You will also likely need to repeat yourself as your audience grows during the live stream.
“Having an overall general idea of the quick topics you’re going to cover and revisiting that multiple times over the live stream, because as soon as you hit record and you start talking, there may be one or two live viewers. Five minutes from that point, you may have 15 new viewers that haven’t seen the first part of it yet,” said Veverka.
2. Rely on your experts. If you’re posting a live video of a boat walkthrough, make sure to include a product manager or sales person. If you’re promoting an in-store event, a marketing manager will know all the best details. You should be sure whoever is going to be in front of the camera is comfortable.
If they aren’t, pairing them with someone who is will create more ease for those in front of the camera and the viewers.
“If you have someone who’s not comfortable in front of a camera who’s got a lot of information, often it works to put someone who is good in front of the camera or off the cuff as an interviewer,” said Poole. “It’s a lot easier to answer interview questions versus someone who has a lot of knowledge but isn’t really enthusiastic in front of the camera, it’s good to have a back and forth because they’re comfortable having a conversation.”
3. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. When you’re recording a live video, you won’t be completely perfect. Don’t let yourself get hung up on being too polished.
“We have occasionally made little mistakes, and the nice thing about the Facebook platform is that if you shoot something live and you maybe do something wrong – we shot in the wrong aspect ratio, for example – you can choose whether or not you want it to stick and stay on your feed or not when it’s all said and done,” said Poole.
If you’re truly concerned about getting it right, consider setting up a “dress rehearsal” of sorts and going through what the live stream will cover, who will stand where and say what, etc. It doesn’t have to be fully scripted but it helps plan what to show customers.
“That way, we can get a feel of where I need to be standing, where they need to be standing, what I need to be featuring, so it’s not so haphazard. At least you have a form on the way you’re going to film the video, even if it is live,” Fahy said.
4. Add calls for engagement. While social media is great for branding purposes and inspiring customers, you are still running a business – getting your followers to follow through and make a purchase is an ideal goal.
Veverka will add text and graphics to Instagram Stories that act as a call for engagement: “Send us a message by replying to this,” “Screenshot this next image for X deal.” This drives people to capture the content and create a conversation with the dealership.
“We’ve had two people ask us … ‘Hey is that board available still?’ Or ‘does that come in a different size or a different color’ with one of the wakeboards,” he said. “So we’re able to see that right away. Instant communication.”
Nautique pushes its Design Your Nautique site on Instagram Stories and asks customers for feedback on designs or offers contests where customers can design a boat and feature the best creations.
“Stuff like that engaging people and then getting them involved in our process of producing content,” said Perry.
5. Invest in a microphone. Businesses recommend purchasing an auxiliary microphone for your cell phone, an inexpensive purchase that provides better sound quality without wind noise or other distractions, which will keep viewers tuned in longer.
“If somebody is looking at a live stream or a live video and they get bombarded with a really loud noise right off the bat, your bounce rates will go through the roof,” said Perry.
6. Set up templates. Veverka recently set up templates for himself in Final Cut Pro or Premiere specifically sized for the vertical video on Instagram Stories, which allows him to edit professionally shot videos to be used in stories.
“I’m able to actually edit with audio, edit with text, logos, visuals and then upload into our stories section. I know it’s only available for 24 hours, but I may use it on YouTube again. Actually creating almost professionally branded content in those stories,” he said. “Having the ability to do that with an upcoming event, to have a fancy-as-can-be story for the day, it helps.”
7. Track your posts. As with any social media strategy, the only way you’ll know if what you’re doing is resonating is if you track it.
On Instagram, you can set up your profile as a business, just like a Facebook business page, which provides insights like overall impressions, reach, how many followers you gained with a post and more. At Buckeye Sports Center, content is categorized by type, such as “showroom redesign info” or “on-water posts,” and tracking data is entered for individual posts to see what is performing well.
“It’s showing me right there in the app, and then I just make a note of it in an Excel spreadsheet. And then also you’ll see stories now that will show overall interactions with views built right in there,” said Veverka.
8. Hire or designate an employee to take the lead on social media. You could hire a person to work on social media full time if you wanted to – and if you’re a business that is large enough to support it, you probably should. Obviously, that is not the case for most businesses in our industry. However, small businesses with minimal social media teams are still able to conduct an effective strategy on stories and with live videos due to minimal production requirements. Identify one person who can lead the efforts and collaborate with other employees on content strategy.
9. Don’t overthink it. The worst thing you can do with any social media strategy is spend so much time planning and worrying about it that you never execute. While the above tips are great points to consider when getting started, don’t get too hung up on the details.
“The more you think about creating the content is less time you spend creating the content. If you overthink it, all of a sudden you’re losing out and just posting things,” said Veverka. “You don’t have to spend weeks or months trying to figure out what the best opportunity is for you before you even start. … Just hit record and don’t feel afraid to put yourself in front of the camera. It doesn’t need to be all fancy filters and butterflies and sunshine.”