Aurora Magazine

Promoting excellence in advertising

How brands can use live streaming apps

Published in Jan-Feb 2016

Five reasons brands should stop being afraid of technology, give up their fear of video, and just go for it.
Illustration by Creative Unit.
Illustration by Creative Unit.

Periscope was named Apple’s app of the year 2015. Meerkat wowed audiences at the eclectic SXSW conference and became a runaway success. Facebook launched Facebook Live to select verified accounts. Blab is one of the hottest live streaming conference call apps right now.

It would be safe to say that 2015 was definitely the year when live streaming video apps launched and gained momentum, and 2016 will most certainly see them becoming stronger, expanding their user base, and dare I say, an increasing number of brands will join in the fun.

Live streaming is fun! Whether it is watching a music concert or sports event live, or someone’s hour in the life of, or receiving live online training... live streaming video apps are being used and what’s more they are cool, interactive and addictive to use.

Who are the players?
Periscope is the most popular live streaming app. It is owned by Twitter and integrates seamlessly with your Twitter profile. You can get the app on both iPhone and Android. Just install, hit record and start live streaming. Your Twitter followers will be notified when you are live. Your followers can double-tap the screen to give you ‘hearts’ which are the app’s indicator of popularity. They can also share your broadcast with their Twitter followers, giving you a wider reach and a bigger audience. Your live stream lives on Periscope for 24 hours and you can save it to your phone for later uploads (YouTube or Facebook, for example).

Meerkat is exactly like Periscope, except more standalone. You can connect it to your Facebook and Twitter accounts for greater reach and visibility.

Facebook Live is Facebook’s venture into live streaming. At the moment this is only available to celebrity profiles with a blue tick verified icon, but Facebook plans to roll it out to other businesses. Perfect opportunity to get on board with this initiative as soon as it launches.

Finally, there’s, a live video streaming app for groups. Up to four people can be in a group video live chat at any one time, with the option of a participant being replaced by someone from the audience. Blab is currently only on iOS for broadcasting but you can watch a Blab session on desktop too. It is the app for debates, discussions and your own personal hosted chat shows, and it is seriously addictive.

Five reasons why you should use live streaming apps

1) They are mobile-first
With everyone and their grandma hooked on to their smartphones, why wouldn’t you want to make content that is mobile-first? Average users pick up their device 85 times a day – probably more times than you pick up a fork to put food in your mouth! If your key demographic is already on their mobile phones more often than not, then you should be creating content for them specifically. It shows that your brand is ahead of the curve and is brave enough to try out the newest apps and trends. What is more, it gets all your followers and fans feeling hip and trendy too.

2) They enable authentic people-to-people contact
If there was a word of the year for 2015, it would be ‘authentic’. Every brand manager was harping on about the need to be more transparent in their communication, how to be more real, how to be more transparent – in short, how to be more authentic. Well, here is the thing; being authentic is simply about being vulnerable. About showing the bad with the good. About being less robotic and planned. About being in-the-moment. About being exactly how you are, fuzzy grey areas included. Most brands are afraid of this. They see it as exposing themselves. Yet, the really authentic brands know that this is where authenticity lives. Live streaming apps are as authentic as you can get with modern tech. You can have rants behind-the-scenes, training, knowledge bombs and what-have-you via live streaming. What is important though, is that your audience will see you as authentic – someone real to follow. Because people don’t follow brands, they follow other people. 

3) They give you a chance to build an intimate and loyal following
Look, if you have been hesitating about diving into video content because for any reason (and there are so many – video is expensive, requires tech skills, it’s time-consuming, and it’s just bloody HARD to do right), then live streaming video might be the perfect way to get your feet video-wet. You just hit record and jump straight in. There is no time to edit, screen, polish, add animation, do lower-thirds, and all those fancy extras. It’s just you, your message, unedited, unpolished, raw. It’s intimate like you have never experienced before. It makes your audience feel like they are in your living room, nay, inside your head! Perfect for when you have a powerful message to communicate.

4) They allow you to stand out in an unsaturated market
Since live streaming is still the new kid on the block, you get to play in a market that is not uber-saturated. Hence, you can experiment more and seize your first mover advantage. You make the rules as you play, and viewers are also faster to forgive you if you make a faux pas since everyone is still learning the rules. If you are tired of trying to improve your Facebook organic reach or trying to gain a few thousand followers on Twitter and getting nowhere, it may be time to switch tactics and get in gear to dominate a new stream.

5) They are interactive (and addictive)
The best thing about live video? Instant feedback! No more showing your bosses that video and them then demanding a million edits to get the “branding right”. This is real, raw and two-way. Sure the conversation from your audience might only be in text and emoticon form, but it is still crucial feedback that you can use to tailor your content, test drive products, gain consumer insights, get feedback and a plethora of market research without spending a penny on those dreaded focus groups. Your audience loves the fact that it can jump in the conversation and be heard. What is more, your audience can communicate with each other and band together to form groups, your fan club, a community or what-have-you. Of course, it’s not all peaches if they hate you and form a hate-group. But you wouldn’t be on live stream if you weren’t cool to start with, right?

So, there you have them, five reasons to stop being afraid of technology, stop sounding rehearsed, stop planning your content forever, stop analysis paralysis, give up your fear of video and just go for it. You might just start having fun! Or is that a gasp no-no for your brand?

Salma Jafri is the host of weekly video show ‘Content Marketing Tips’ on