As shared in an earlier post, online video is 600% more effective than print and direct mail marketing combined. Video is becoming increasingly popular in marketing campaigns and online in general (i.e. website content and social media content) for businesses. A large part of that is live video, which Snapchat and Periscope (owned by Twitter) are known for, while Instagram Live and Facebook Live are simply features on the broader channels. Live video accounts for 13% of total online video traffic, and people tend to watch live videos 300% longer compared to videos that are not live.

Going live on traditional social media has seen growth since it was first introduced on Facebook and shortly after on Instagram. “Live videos on average get six times as many interactions as regular videos,” says Adam Mosseri, head of Facebook’s Newsfeed. Live streams are popular because they bring a human element to digital marketing. They are more natural than professionally edited videos and they offer more direct human interaction as opposed to traditional posts. It allows for real-time engagement in the form of comments, reactions, and viewer numbers shared in the moment. Great uses of live video include giving users a taste of the experience they may have in a hotel or restaurant, broadcasting an event happening, doing interviews or a Q&A with the CEO or employee can be interesting, sharing a new product in a behind-the-scenes manner, or sharing a special announcement, perhaps of new locations or services coming.

In 2016, Dunkin Donuts was one of the first brands to embrace going live as they did on Facebook on Valentine’s Day. They took viewers behind the scenes of their test kitchen to showcase their special Valentine’s treats and mobile gift card push. The broadcast received over 21,000 viewers, far more than any other content posted on the brand page.

Facebook Live was introduced to the public in April 2016. Users can broadcast live for up to five hours. Facebook then allows users to post it to their Facebook page, save it to their phone, and therefore share on other channels. Facebook’s newsfeed algorithm favors Live videos over other content. Instagram Live was created a little differently but has since evolved to reflect Facebook Live’s options. Originally, live videos disappeared once the broadcast was over; it could not be saved or replayed in any way. It has since adapted the ability to be shared on one’s Instagram story, which can be replayed for 24 hours, be saved to one’s camera roll, and even be automatically shared to users Facebook stories when the apps are connected. Instagram stories for businesses offers connectivity to users by appearing on the explore page of users that follow similar accounts. For example, if a user follows and watches Waldorf Astoria stories on Instagram, the Four Seasons story may show up on the users explore page because they are related brands. This is a great free marketing tool.

It is recommended that businesses advertise before they go live so followers know when to tune in and watch. Laying out the general concept and points to touch on is a good idea but never fear to stray away from that on livestream. Making sure to hit those points is crucial but it also needs to be authentic and more of a conversation with audiences. It is also recommended to interact with users while recording; users can comment and ask questions on the live streams so it is a good opportunity to directly interact with consumers, either commenting back or speaking to them directly.

Overall, live video helps drive organic traffic and engagement, which is what brands are looking for on social media. With video content expected to make up more than 80% of all internet traffic by 2021, brands need to get creative. Having all professionally edited and scripted videos are going to get boring and not help increase brand awareness. Trying out live video and seeing how it works for your hospitality business is worth it.