Being an online publisher now means much more than just mastering the written word. Your operation has to have effective social media plans, engaging visual content to go with posts, and stand-alone video content to keep Internet-native readers plugged in. Reaching users in real time has many benefits, if sites know what they’re doing to attract their readers to the stream. As publishers look for more ways to monetize their sites, live, streaming video provides a personal, fast paced option for their readers.
There are other platforms on the horizon, like augmented reality—note the new ARKit from Apple—but the tech du jour of the online content ecosystem is live video. Streaming from and to users’ phones started as a novelty with the app Meerkat, and then grew larger with Twitter’s Periscope. Now Facebook has taken it to an entirely new level with Facebook Live, the most broadly used platform. No surprise there. Facebook and Twitter are able to monetize the technology through rights deals to stream premium content, like the BBC’s coverage of the upcoming British elections, or sporting events from around the world.
So where does that leave publishers?
It’s up to them to see where live video takes their content, but the options are endless. A site could take its readers on location, offering a unique, in-the-crowd perspective. This could work for something as small as a town hall meeting, or something as large as a Thanksgiving Day parade. While providing high level production values is great, smaller outlets need to get creative in order to stream important content out to their followers. Here are some other examples from publishers around the web who are using live video to supplement the other content at their site.
One of the earliest examples was a video that popular news site Buzzfeed streamed of two people putting rubber bands around a watermelon until it exploded. Not exactly breaking news, but at its peak the video attracted 807,000 viewers! This was a simple experiment with a basic premise that used supplies you can find in the office or at the grocery store. They didn’t have to build a studio or design graphics, yet they still drew tens of thousands of people to watch this video and share it on the go to their social media. Anyone could recreate something like this with a simple, fun idea that would bring readers to the publication.
Publishers can also go all-in on a daily live video, as Mashable does with its “Mash on This” series. “Mash on This” is a daily live video from a studio that gives viewers the news of the day in a digestible way. Having a consistent show gives users something to come back to regularly, and keeps them up to date when they don’t have time to read all of the articles featured in the video. Mashable also allows users to submit questions or comments that may appear on the show, which is another great way to build a following for the content. Like mobile publishing did to newspapers, live video is posing an ever increasing threat to television news. The Internet is already set to surpass television in advertising spending this year, and live video will only widen the gap between new and old.
Every publication has something that no one else has to offer, and that’s an inside look at how it generates content. Each newsroom is different, and taking readers inside builds trust and commitment from the audience. When Grazia UK partnered with Facebook to put together its first “Community Issue,” it used Facebook Live to take users behind the scenes of events it was attending or presenting. Grazia UK also broadcast a roundtable talk, which users submitted questions to in real time. This tactic gives the audience a sense of importance, as they become part of the content, not just readers or viewers.
Mobile is well on its way to being the king of digital advertising, and, by extension, of advertising in general. Live video is another tool mobile publishers can add to their kit to attract new and returning users, and it offers editors an exciting opportunity to get creative. It might sound daunting, but the things you can do with live video are endless and well worth the effort.
Live video may still be finding its legs, but there’s no doubting its potential for having a powerful impact. Just as the web overtook newspapers and mobile took over the web, live video could very well take down television. So it’s time to join this latest revolution in online publishing. Fire up that camera, aim it at something interesting in your world, and roll it!