Earlier this year, it was revealed that Facebook had paid various celebrities and media organizations to use their Live video feature a total of $50m. The Wall Street Journal had found information alleging that Facebook was splitting this amount between around 140 different contracts, with such household brands as the The New York Times, BuzzFeed, and CNN all receiving money to stream live videos. Why so? In the past decade, online culture and social media has transformed the way in which individuals and businesses behave. Building brand-loyalty, engaging with a huge range of prospects, and carving out your own niche in a competitive marketplace have all become priorities for any respectable business. Live interactive broadcasting is one of the latest, more important tools companies have at their disposal to grab users. Facebook Live is not the only service available, of course. Periscope has generated plenty of attention since it launched, with more than 10 million people using it in the first four months. Today’s apps allow users from around the world to enjoy two-way chats with broadcasters, creating a more engaging experience than simply watching a recorded video. As this continues to become more and more common, companies can experiment with its potential to find new, exciting ways to boost their online presence. With this in mind, how can you use live interactive broadcasting to improve your business? Broadcast Live from Popular Events Every year, dozens of conferences, exhibitions, and expos take place across the globe, bringing specialists in all sectors together for their mutual benefit. These are fantastic places to demonstrate fresh products and services, to network, and to generate wider interest in your brand. While thousands of representatives and potential customers attend these events again and again, there are just as many who are unable to attend for one reason or another. By using live interactive broadcasting, you can bring viewers into the event in real-time, guiding them around the venue using just your smartphone. This is a convenient, cost-effective way for your customers to see all the action they might otherwise miss out on, and requires little in the way of planning or expense on your end. The interactive aspect of Facebook Live and other live-broadcasting platforms fosters a real sense of community between your ‘host’ and viewers, allowing the latter to dictate the video’s direction. For example, a recorded piece might simply provide a montage of different stalls or speeches from an event, giving viewers no way to have their input. Live broadcasting, on the other hand, allows the audience to ask questions and comment, to which exhibitors or VIP guests can respond. You can find new followers and potential customers through live-streaming an event: their being able to have their own questions answered may be impressive enough to keep them engaged in the long-term. Conduct Insightful Interviews with Key Figures Every company has its own experts, regardless of the products and services they sell. With live interactive broadcasting, your business can give viewers the chance to ask your best and brightest any relevant questions. These may vary from advice on getting the most out of specific products to asking their opinion on forthcoming industry-changes. You may also be able to attract prominent thought-leaders in your sector to be interviewed. The interactive quality gives your audience the freedom and power to get an expert response to their questions – a privilege they might get nowhere else, nor forget in a hurry. Conducting interviews with satisfied clients, in the form of short testimonials, can also be a simple engagement tactic, but avoid overdoing it. There is a fine line between highlighting the real-world benefits of your services and shamelessly plugging yourself. Try to keep such broadcasts down to just a couple of minutes, before or after something less self-promotional (such as an interview with a prominent expert or light-hearted round-table discussion). Present Educational Making-of Videos Live interactive broadcasting gives you the power to take your customers and followers into your lab, warehouse, or office for in-depth ‘making-of’ videos. For high-profile, popular products (such as a specific gadget), such a hands-on insight is fascinating to dedicated users, showing how their essential lifestyle companion came to be. Again, this can be broadcast to potentially millions of viewers with little more than a smartphone and an internet connection, allowing your host to record with a minimum of fuss. Simply sitting beside a web-designer as they construct a specific tool or filming one of your bakers as they create a best-selling cake is easy to set-up, for even the smallest enterprise. Viewers can ask the expert questions as they occur, while the specific product is being created in real-time, helping to make your audience feel a part of the activity and nurturing your brand’s welcoming, sharing image. Address Customer Complaints or Major Problems From time to time, every business faces difficulties. Perhaps your latest product has gone to market with a serious flaw, or your website has been down for several hours. Whatever the problem, the way in which your company handles it may have a significant impact on your reputation. Simply leaving customers’ complaints without a response is a major social-media faux pas, while posting inappropriate or inadvertently-offensive material across social networks can be equally damaging. For example, American Apparel once posted an image from the Challenger tragedy to celebrate July 4th – something we would all agree was in poor taste. The brand promptly apologized, blaming the mishap on an individual who was unborn at the time of the disaster and so mistook the image’s content for fireworks rather than an exploding shuttle. Had the company been employing live broadcasting at the time, they could have streamed a real-time apology for the mistake, engaging with followers in an intimate way. Viewers could have asked questions about how the mishap occurred and how the brand planned to avoid such errors in the future. While some companies may feel this could be a PR nightmare and require careful-treading throughout, such transparency is more important than ever today, and would show a brand’s dedication to keeping their customers in the loop. While live interactive broadcasting is incredibly important, investing in the best service available is critical. Choosing a poor-quality option could save you money to begin with, but would likely lead to frustration and, ultimately, a substantial drop in engagement. Tony Zhao, CEO of interactive broadcasting company Agora.io, highlighted this: “Any company using a poor connection to broadcast their interactive videos is running the risk of low-quality audio and video, interrupted signals, and a total loss of connection. Understandably, viewers trying to watch your live streams will become irritated if they keep losing visual and audio connections – and could stop watching altogether. “Consider how annoyed you would be if you were given the chance to ask a brand’s key experts fascinating questions, only to find your (or their) words going unseen. Would you be willing to stick with a company providing such sub-par media? Invest in a dedicated solution which provides outstanding quality across the world, no matter how remote a user’s location or how poor a specific region’s internet infrastructure.” Keeping customers satisfied is more important than ever today, given that they have a louder voice than ever, not to mention alternative businesses just a click away. Live interactive broadcasting can make your followers and customers feel more valued, build a stronger bond with your team, and help to secure a solid reputation. While live interactive broadcasting may become a standard tool for businesses in years to come, you can still gain an edge over your competitors by embracing it now. Have you considered just how revolutionary live interactive broadcasting can be for your brand? Image: Computer live streaming Television symbolized by iconic On-Air broadcast sign.