Live video is one of the most engaging content types today, with 100 million internet users watching online video every day. Today, all major social media platforms support livestreaming. With live video picking up in consumption as well as in features, there are several learnings for marketers on how they can capitalize on the growing popularity of live video for their content marketing. Videos on social media also have a higher possibility for virality and generate 1200% more shares than text and images combined. Once you realize it, livestreaming can be used as the new webinars for content marketing.
The bigger question faced by many brands is the choice of video format – livestreaming verses webinars – and which has higher ROI and better suitability for their content marketing goals.
Growth of Live Video
The format and content of livestream varies from brand to brand, but as per statistics from Livestream, 62 Must-Know Live Video Streaming Statistics, “Live video is more appealing to brand audiences: 80% would rather watch live video from a brand than read a blog, and 82% prefer live video from a brand to social posts.”
The value-add of live video is enormous and growing every day. Ever since Facebook launched the livestreaming feature in 2016, the number of users engaged with live video has been on the increase. Every social media platform, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, and most recently, Linkedin, has now enabled live video features on their platform, to give a channel for variety live video content online.
As per 50 Wheel, “Retail companies and ecommerce websites have seen an average increase in conversion by 30% just by implementing live video and over a 157% increase in organic traffic due to the SEO from their on demand video libraries.”
Webinars form the bulk of the video format called “Video on Demand,” though they include a live telecast component too. Webinars are typically organized by companies for B2B content marketing, and are characterized by a more technically intensive setup, lead capture before the telecast, and limited audience numbers, in some cases. Though webinars are typically live videos, they are visible and available only to those who register for the online event and cannot be accessed by everyone without registration. Ever since the launch of live video on social media in 2016, the utility of webinars in content marketing is becoming limited, whereas the ROI on live video has been picking up.
There are several reasons for this shift. Webinars pose certain restrictions on availability and visibility, whereas live video, by its very nature, is meant for higher visibility.
Higher Reach of Live Video As Compared with Webinars for Content Marketing
Social media algorithms ensure that live videos have a much higher reach than all other native content on the platforms. As per Livestream, “average time spent for video on mobile is 2.8 minutes for VOD and 3.5 for livestreams. Average time spent for video on tablets is 7.1 minutes for livestreaming versus 4.1 minutes for VOD. Average time spent for video on desktop is 34.5 minutes for livestreaming versus 2.6 minutes for VOD.”
So, the same users spend more time engaging with live content, as they do with video on demand. Video on demand is locked behind sign up forms and other gates, and hence is meant to not be directly visible. Whereas live video is not only designed for visibility, it has the highest organic reach, with growing engagement over time, as many people continue to watch it after the live session is over.
Live Telecast Alerts
One of the most unique features of live videos is that most social media and other livestreaming apps have added features to their portals which allow you to alert all your followers when you are streaming live. This shows up as push notifications on your phones or desktops, and hence, the likelihood of users joining a livestream is relatively high. Facebook also allows you to schedule a live telecast and have your page followers RSVP to it. This further gives people a heads up when the live telecast begins.
Webinars, on the other hand, face the limitation of email alerts and reminders for the live telecast. Many people do not check their emails regularly, and hence do not see the notification or see it only too late. One of the biggest reasons of low turn up for webinars is that not all who register log in to the webinar. Average webinar turn-up rates are usually between 35-45%. Whereas live streams can often exceed the number of RSVPs received.
If a live video is shared in a group (on Facebook) or by other users viewing the live video (on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube & LinkedIn), the reach of the video increases by leaps and bounds. As this is possible while the video telecast is still ongoing, it can dramatically improve the viewer number and the total number of minutes viewed.
With webinars, which require registration before anyone can view the video, even if they get shared don’t necessarily have an increased number of viewers as quickly, because the video itself is not visible for “casual viewing.” Many people like to view a video for a few seconds to decide whether they like the content or not and whether they would want to continue watching it or not. Users do not like to give away their emails for this “casual viewing.” Hence, webinars do not get the same shareability and virality as a live video telecast.
Moreover, live videos can be up to 2-3 hrs long, wherein viewers can view the video, drop off, view again, etc. Webinars are fixed in time and structure, and hence will ideally not be longer than 30-45 mins. This time window is often not enough to get the webinar shared while it is live.
SEO Utility of Live Video vs Webinars for Content Marketing
Live videos, after the telecast is over, can be further embedded on your blog, along with a transcript or a write-up, with or without subtitles. This will further leverage the live video from SEO standpoint, and make both, the video, as well as the blog post/ web page, get indexed in searches. As long as the quality of the live video is good, it can be repurposed in multiple ways to increase its ROI for content marketing.
Webinars, on the other hand, are gated content, and hence do not get ranked much in SEO search results. Even the webinar videos which are available on demand require a signup, and hence not indexable by search engines. If SEO is not the goal of your content marketing, this may not be a big factor, but it is a lost opportunity for SEO boost of your website.
Lead Capture in Live Video Vs Webinars for Content Marketing
The biggest content marketing goals, which require hosting webinars, is lead capture and list building. Webinars are useful in driving sign ups and adding people interested in your product, service or your content, to your mailing list.
Though webinars require registration before the actual telecast, and hence the list building is done before the telecast of the video, in a live video, there is no registration per se, but list building can still be done during or at the end of the video, or in the video description. Most users are more likely to sign up for updates from you if they are already interested in your content, which they have already seen. Hence, livestreams give an alternate route for list building and lead capture, one which would attract more qualified leads, as the registrants would have already viewed the live video.
Ease of Setup for Live Telecast
Live video requires the most basic setup of a good quality video camera and microphone. Most smartphones already have HD video cameras, and a clip-on microphone can be easily purchased for less than 10$. Au contraire, webinars require software for hosting, which often have attendee limits. So, a live video could be watched by thousands of users, but the same is highly unlikely for a webinar. The cost of hosting a webinar is typically anything from 100$ per session to up to 1000$ per session.
Moreover, the setup required for webinars can be more technologically intensive, rather than the plug-and-play approach of live videos. This further makes it much easier to host a live video session, as compared with a webinar.
Promotion of Live Video Vs Webinars for Content Marketing
For driving sign-ups for webinars, you will typically need to promote the online event before the event itself, else the attendee number will be drastically low, and will make it not worth your while to host the webinar. As promotion is part of the marketing strategy, webinars will also need to be scheduled way beforehand, at least a few weeks ahead of the telecast time.
Live video, on the other hand, can be promoted after the live streaming is over. This, again, gives a better ROI, as the existing live video already would have some traction on it, making the promotion gain even higher visibility, giving higher ROI.
Due to high organic reach, and high promoted reach for live video, the cost per lead is low. In webinars, the organic reach is very limited, and paid reach is not enhanced by organic reach. So, the cost of acquisition of leads is higher.
The cost of software and other setup required for live video vis-à-vis webinars further increases the ROI for live video and lowers the ROI for webinars.
Multi-streaming for Live Video & Versatility of Content
In today’s technological age, livestreaming to multiple social media platforms has become easy with apps that give easy access to multi-streaming and integrations with all social media channels. This means, that at the same time, the reach of the live video is 3X-4X of what it would be if broadcasted on only one platform.
Moreover, due to the availability of live video features on multiple social media sites, there are more options for the type, nature, and length of content that can be shared over a live video. For example, IGTV, the long form video streaming counterpart of Instagram, is best suited for Vloggers and informal content, whereas LinkedIn Live video is best suited for more specialised & high quality, targeted content. With many options available, different types of live video can be streamed on the different channels, fine-tuned to the audience.
Webinars, on the other hand, by their very nature are meant to be highly specialized and/or technical and can only be hosted on native platforms or software because the content is gated. This limits the reach as well as the type of content possible for a webinar.
As the digital world evolves, new content formats start opening up new possibilities and ways of reaching your target audience, in more meaningful ways. With the launch and growing popularity of live video streaming, a new avenue has opened up for reaching a variety of target groups organically and leveraging the same content by paid promotions. This marketing funnel itself is different from the typical marketing funnel of a webinar. Though live videos are not a direct replacement for webinars, they offer a far more flexible option, with a higher ROI on your content marketing budget. It would not be wrong to say that livestreams are the new webinars for content marketing.