by Tina Manzer and Rebecca Carlson
If your Facebook feed seems to be filled with friends and acquaintances advertising pearls, leggings, or essential oils, it’s because people have discovered the direct-selling effectiveness of Facebook Live.
LuLaRoe is an example. The four-year-old direct-sales clothier sells knit shirts, skirts, dresses and leggings, but not in stores. Its “consultants” buy inventory and sell it to friends and contacts through parties they organize, or on Facebook Live. “Remarkably, half the company’s sales are coming from social media,” reported Forbes last October.
Here’s how it works: First, the consultants create a private group on Facebook for the sole purpose of sharing information about their inventory. Women who want to buy the merchandise join the groups to access the product because they can’t buy it in stores.
The consultants announce “sale hours” in their groups and during those times they live stream a presentation of the products. “Standing in front of their webcam or iPad camera lens, consultants hold up each new item one by one and describe the adorable print, soft texture and cute style. Each product has its own unique number for reference. When customers see something they want, they type in that number along with ‘Sold’ in the comments,” explained Forbes.
We’re not recommending that you do that, necessarily, but it proves how well live video can be for connecting with customers. It can be a great tool for specialty toy retailers who want to get more foot traffic into their stores.
Everyone today is loving video. More than one-third of all online activity is spent watching video, and 45 percent of people watch more than an hour of Facebook videos each week. According to Shutterstock, a global provider of licensed images, videos, and music, the marketers who use video grow their revenue 49 percent faster than non-video marketers.
If you think you’re getting the job done with images and text, studies show that social video generates 1,200 percent more shares than text and image posts combined.
Facebook joins the field
Introduced in 2015, Facebook Live is a feature that offers users live-streaming video capabilities. When you tap the live-stream icon, you can broadcast live for up to four hours from your smartphone or laptop, and any of your followers can tune in to your “show.” When you’re done and tap “finish,” a video of your broadcast is posted permanently on your timeline, and can be retrieved at any time.
Before there was Facebook Live there was Periscope, launched by Twitter a short five months earlier. Unlike Facebook Live, which is designed to deepen your existing online connections, Periscope is more focused on establishing connections with people you don’t know. It also has the benefit of being its own app, and is incredibly quick to get on the air, explains technology writer Christine Chan on makeuseof.com. “However, Twitter, has neglected the app for awhile, so it’s not as active as it used to be,” she notes.
Users of Periscope are limited to streaming through mobile devices only, she adds, while Facebook Live users can broadcast from a desktop, in addition to their smart phones. “Plus, there are a ton of filters and effects to liven up your stream,” writes Christine.
“With the potential to reach 1.71 billion monthly active users on Facebook Live alone, there is absolutely no good reason to avoid using live video to market your business,” reports an article on Duct Tape Marketing. The marketing agency specifically designed to help small businesses offers these practical ways to make the best live videos you can.
Invest in some equipment
“Shakily holding your iPhone for more than 10 minutes at a time might seem like a good idea at first, but your audience will not feel the same,” writes Eugenie, who recommends purchasing a sturdy tripod and a decent microphone. “The quality of your audio makes a huge different in live streaming.”
You could also broadcast from your computer if you need to stabilize the video, but you’re restricted to staying in one spot.
Let there be light
Make sure you aren’t streaming as a shadowy figure in a dimly lit room. Broadcasting outside during the day is one light-filled option, or go inside and film in natural sunlight from a reasonably-sized window.
The ideal is three different light sources, says digital marketer Kim Garst. They can range from household lamps to professional LED blocks. The industry standard is to light up these areas: your subject (you!), the area behind you (backlight), and the area opposite your subject (fill light).
Choose an interesting setting
Take a minute to consider what your viewers will be looking at in the background. Will it be your shelves full of new arrivals from Toy Fair or your handwritten return policy with the torn corners?
Engage with your audience
The beauty of live streaming is that it allows you to have personalized interactions with your viewers. Instead of a pushy promoter, you’ll come off as a solutions provider – someone interested in learning about customers and meeting their needs. “A great way to interact with a live audience is through an AMA (Ask Me Anything),” suggests Eugenie. “Every once in a while, do a live stream where you take questions from your viewers and answer them in a casual light-hearted manner.”
Be prepared to
• give some details about your personal life;
• offer something of value, like a demo of a new science kit, game, or a set of marker;
• respond to comments in between,
• play a game;
• share the results of a poll, or
• tell a story. It helps build trust and brand loyalty. (Plus, people remember information better if it’s told as a story.)
Aim for 20 minutes
It’s enough time for people to join in, and gives you a chance to engage with them effectively.
Train for lag time
With live video, there is a lag between the broadcaster and the audience – something that often gets overlooked, says Eugenie. In other words, what you say and what your viewers hear won’t always be in sync. It can make asking a question a little more difficult, for instance, because you may not receive any answers for a short period of time. But that’s when you add context for the question, or offer a relevant anecdote.
Slow Wi-Fi can spoil your broadcast so before you go live, check your speed. Using the device you will stream from, visit speedtest.net, a web service that provides free analysis of Internet access performance metrics. For a flawless live stream without interruptions, the magic number for an upload speed is 3 Mbps or more.
If you don’t have Wi-Fi, make sure your phone has a strong 4G connection – Facebook will actually alert you if your signal is weak by graying out the “go live” button.
“If there is one thing you take away from this article, let it be this,” writes Eugenie. “If you’re not having fun and staying true to yourself when live streaming, your audience will be able to tell right away.”
If you’re having trouble understanding the authentic “you,” consider what bestselling author Seth Godin wrote about the importance of authenticity in business: it’s doing what you promise, not being who you are.