Just a few years ago, Twitter’s Periscope interactive broadcasting service sounded like an interesting idea with possible business applications. But that was a few years ago. Now we know it can help businesses.
Prompted by Facebook Live and other services–and a huge set of use cases furnished by Asia, where live chat broadcasting has become a $5 billion business in China alone—companies have woken up to the potential of interactive broadcasting over the internet.
Interactive broadcasting, where individuals and companies use their smartphone to host public video sessions that anyone can join, has become a major new communications medium that isn’t going away.
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Using Interactive Broadcasting for Your Business
Here’s how your business can take advantage of it.
Offer Live Product Training
Adoption is one of the biggest challenges for software-as-a-service businesses, where sign-up is easy but getting customers to try the product and learn its features is much harder. One good use for interactive broadcasting is offering live training sessions for users and potential users for an easier adoption path.
Right now, businesses use a combination of forums, text-based instructions and boring YouTube videos to educate customers. But there is a better way: Interactive broadcasting. Having live product training goes far beyond videos because it allows customers to ask questions and engage with the training, which boosts engagement and learning.
“Nobody would argue that having someone there to walk you through a how-to is far superior to a pre-programmed video,” notes Tony Zhao, founder of interactive broadcasting firm, Agora.io, which gives businesses a turnkey interactive broadcasting solution as a web service. “Interactive broadcasting brings back the human element that got lost when we moved away from a brick-and-mortar business model.”
Build Thought Leadership with Live Events
Standing out is getting harder for businesses; there’s lots of options online, and lots of marketing ninjutsu. A second way you can use interactive broadcasting is by creating live “events” that create urgency and help your business stand out.
This can take two forms.
First, you can use interactive broadcasting to help customers and prospects attend events that they might otherwise miss, whether a conference or noteworthy public event. For instance, if you are a fitness app developer you might broadcast the release of the latest Apple Watch and then let users ask questions and explore the watch on the day it is released.
Second, you can create your own events. If you are an organic food manufacturer, you might have a release party of a new product line and set up an Iron Chef competition where contestants compete to make something interesting with the new product. This can be broadcast live, and you could even let viewers influence the competition or ask questions of the contestants.
Draw Attention to Promotions
Having a sale is good. But if your customers don’t know about the sale, or if it doesn’t register as something really worthwhile, you might not be getting the most from your efforts.
Interactive broadcasting can come to the rescue, bringing more prominence to the sale or promotion and driving added interest. A weekly special, for instance, could tie into a live product demonstration that customers can watch online, much like the Home Shopping Network has done for decades.
By broadcasting around the sale or promotion, you turn the promotion into an “event.” Further, by using interactive broadcasting you give potential buyers a chance to look more deeply at the product and ask questions before they make the buy. And by showing that others are interested in the product, too, via the interactive part of the broadcast, you drive demand and show value.
Give Behind-the-Scenes Access
Everyone loves special access. Customers also like authenticity, an important quality at a time when marketing has arguably gotten too slick. A fourth way you can take advantage of interactive broadcasting is by hosting special “behind the scenes” live broadcasts.
Brand loyalty comes to those businesses that show a human side. Interactive broadcasting lets you give backstage access to actual employees, the shop floor where you make your product or service, and the raw materials that go into creating your wares. By showing off how things are actually made and by whom, you help customers build a sense of place and connection with your company. You also can spark a deeper interest in how the product is made.
Avenue Beads in Chicago is but one example. They have used interactive broadcasting to take customers behind the scenes to see how their glass jewelry and artwork is created. Viewers get to see the process, which brings product value, and also viewers can ask questions and interact with the employees who make the artwork.
Create Content Easily with Exclusive Interviews
Every business is in the media business now; content marketing helps firms stand out and tell their story. But there’s only one problem: Creating content can be hard and time-consuming.
Enter interactive broadcasting.
Many businesses have found that they can generate meaningful, consistent content easily and at low cost by offering real-time video interviews with staff or industry experts, and letting viewers interact with these experts. Content is created through the announcement that the event will be happening, as a result of the broadcast itself, and then after the event in the form of using the questions and content created during the interviews.
Beyond just content creation, interactive broadcasting as a content marketing tool also helps because it drives engagement: viewers get to interact with the broadcast, and it also creates a sense of community if part of a regular series of live broadcasts.
“People want to be involved, to create and to be a part of something interactive,” says Lee Odden at marketing and communications site, Ragan.com. “That presents an opportunity for brands to originate and co-create video content with their communities.”
There are many ways to use interactive broadcasting; these are just a few. The overall point is that businesses are using this new technology today, and to great effect. Your business can use it, too.