Live video remains a core feature of the top social networks, but have you noticed that the live video buzz may have cooled?

Why isn’t anyone talking about live video anymore?

How should you be thinking about live video and your social media strategy in 2019?

We believe there are still significant opportunities to use live video to your advantage. This week on the Science of Social Media, we hope to give you some fresh perspectives and ideas on what live video could look like for you and your brand in 2019.

The State of Live Video in 2019

If you think back three years ago to 2016, live video was everywhere.

Facebook Live had just debuted, and you had platforms like Periscope and Meerkat making waves as well. Live video seemed destined to be a huge focus for social media and for marketing strategies.

An emarketer study showed that one in every three Internet users had watched a live video in 2016, and that number was double for the much-coveted millennial demographic. Live video was going to be the future of how we interacted on social media.

state of live video 2016 - emarketer studyLive streaming video in 2016 (via emarketer)

What a difference a few years make, right? Live video seems to have gone from front-of-mind to back-of-mind for marketers and for the social networks themselves. Case in point …

Facebook has de-emphasized live streaming from its platform, and its upcoming pivot toward privacy seems to preclude the abundance of live video for its future.
And Instagram has rolled out IGTV, which seems to run counter to the idea of live. Polished, rather than off-the-cuff.

And the stats seem to point to a shift as well — or perhaps to a signal that live video never really took off in the way we thought it would. According to the annual State of Social Media report that we conduct at Buffer, 25 percent of brands had posted a live video in 2016, and the number only grew to 30% in 2017. Far from the rocketship growth that people expected.

What’s more, in our latest State of Social study, live video wasn’t even mentioned. Instead, brands seem focused on their overall video strategy … “live” included: 85% of brands posted at least one video last year, and the majority of brands used Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram.

video-content-frequencyVideo stats from the 2019 State of Social Media report

Instead of doubling down on live video in particular, brands now consider live video as one of many different types of video distribution methods. You have live video alongside Stories and video ads and YouTube and so much more.

Video remains one of the most engaging, best converting types of content.

Live video has become one of many tools in your video toolbox.

Almost all of the major social networks have live video in some form. Facebook Live is still going strong, as is Instagram live. Twitter continues to use live video really successfully with its Periscope product.

Plus, you have places like YouTube and Twitch, where livestreaming is huge.

Video game streaming alone has become a major attraction with the rise of e-sports, and beyond video games there are creators and influencers who have amassed giant viewership numbers for their streams.

There’s even talk of Instagram testing out a co-watching feature on the app, which would be a way to live discover Instagram videos together.

So the live video experience continues to be one that is valuable and in-demand for social network users. It might just end up looking a lot different than the live-everything world we predicted a few years back.

3 Strategic Use Cases for Live Video in 2019

It may be the case that fewer people are talking about live video — it may have never reached the critical mass that everyone predicted, or it may be on the backburner compared to newer social network features and strategies — but it is not gone forever, not by any means.

In fact, live video is thriving for particular niches and strategic use cases.

Historically, people watching videos on social media will stick with a live video for 3x longer than other videos, so it’s no surprise that social networks continue to keep this feature going.

Here are three specific strategies you could try in order to take advantage of live video in 2019.

1. Live video is a go-to tool for influencers.

Live video is a very personal medium, which caters perfectly to influencers and individuals who are growing their personal brand. This group has a huge range: from teenage YouTuber stars to marketing personalities to rising politicians. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recently livestreamed herself building IKEA furniture, for instance.

alexandria ocasio cortez instagram live ikea videoScreenshot of congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez streaming live on Instagram (screenshot courtesy of Elle)

Many networks are even moving to make live video a lucrative choice for influencers by allowing donations and tips during livestreams of things like gaming and AMAs.

2. Use live video for a Q&A with your audience

Because of the personal nature of live video, there is some real power behind the ability to converse directly with someone.

This makes for an ideal outlet for a Q&A. Picture a fireside chat. There’s an intimacy and an immediacy to those chats which live video does a great job of replicating: it makes it feel much more real-time than many other mediums.

Brands can take advantage of this by holding Q&A sessions with company leaders or get-to-know-you sessions with teammates.

Quick tip: When you’re running a live Q&A we’ve found it to be really helpful to have an extra set of hands on set. We will often have an additional teammate looking at the comments to make sure everyone gets a response and to surface questions for the presenter to address on the video.

3. Live video is great for anyone who is just getting started with growing their presence on social media

One of the very best features of live video is its visibility in the interface of all the different social networks.

Take Instagram, for example. When you stream a live video through your Instagram Stories, your Stories avatar gets moved immediately to the front of the line. Typically, the order of avatars is determined by the Instagram algorithm. But with live video, your Story gets immediate access to the first spot.

Instagram live interface profile avatar and feedSamples of what Instagram Live video looks like and how live videos get prioritized in the Stories interface

Similarly on YouTube, live sessions receive additional promotion with a noticeable, red LIVE badge in the main feed and in recommendations.

Because of this increased visibility, live video can be great if your brand is just getting started on social media. Not only would you be able to get priority placement, but you’d also be harnessing a powerful brand connection with your audience.

Getting started with live video: Where to begin

Now let’s get into the details. For marketers, the main social networks for live video are the ones you’d expect: Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter.

To get started on Instagram, you can follow these steps:

Swiping from left to right in the app, which opens up your camera.
At the bottom of the camera screen, you’ll see a list of options. Scroll to the left and choose “Live” — its the one right next to “Normal.” Instagram will tell you how many of your followers are online, which will give you a good sense of the ideal timing for your livestream.
When you’re ready to start your steam, hit the big white button.

You’ll be able to tell that your stream is running by the little pink “Live” icon in the top left corner.

Bonus tip: Be sure to check your Instagram settings beforehand, too. Once an Instagram Live video ends, it won’t appear on your feed unless you toggle “Save Shared Photos” on. This saves your content to the Stories section of the app, where you can share them with your audience.

On Facebook,

You can click or tap the “Live” button right next to the primary text box on your profile or page.
This will open a new screen with all the live options. You can stream from a computer or from the app.

In the Twitter app,

you can swipe left to right from the home feed to open your camera. Then you’ll scroll right to switch the camera from “Capture” to “Live”. This will give you options to get your livestream started.

And for YouTube,

from your computer, you can click the recording icon at the top right menu. This will present the options to upload a pre-recorded video or go live. The next screen will help you get going with the full dashboard of live options for YouTube streaming.

3 Quick Tips for Live Video Streaming

Run your live video for at least 10 minutes. Many live videos go for 30 minutes-plus.
Promote your live video beforehand. You can do this with posts on Twitter or Facebook, or use the new countdown sticker on Instagram Stories to promote the time.
Consider sneaking in giveaways or exclusive info into your live stream as an incentive for people to join and listen in. Be sure to plug these goodies in the promotion you do beforehand.

How to say hello to us

We would all love to say hello to you on social media – especially Twitter!

Heather-Mae on Twitter
Dave on Twitter

Thanks for listening! Feel free to connect with our team at Buffer on TwitterBuffer on Facebook, our Podcast homepage, or with the hashtag #bufferpodcast.

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About The Science of Social Media podcast

The Science of Social Media is your weekly sandbox for social media stories, insights, experimentation, and inspiration. Every Monday (and sometimes more) we share the most cutting-edge social media marketing tactics from brands and influencers in every industry. If you’re a social media team of one, business owner, marketer, or someone simply interested in social media marketing, you’re sure to find something useful in each and every episode.  It’s our hope that you’ll join our 27,000+ weekly iTunes listeners and rock your social media channels as a result!

The Science of Social Media is proudly made by the Buffer team. Feel free to get in touch with us for any thoughts, ideas, or feedback.

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