If we trace the evolution of video and streaming in culture we see a direct line from cord cutting to on-demand content, then ultimately to live streaming, driven by the consistent demand of audiences for new and different content and the need for businesses to be agile and provide a steady stream of communications. In this POV, we dig into this exciting channel to see how the technology is evolving, what different industries are doing to harness its potential and explore myriad opportunities for the health and wellness industry to be a leader in this space.
Where is Live Video Going?
Live video has largely been a dormant marketing channel in many industries. The cost barrier of entry is low and accessing the right technology is fairly easy, but consumers (and brands) had not caught up to the technology until now. The current pandemic has significantly sped up the process of adoption as in-person forms of marketing have been rendered obsolete due to health guidelines. Necessity is the mother of invention—or adoption in this case. Here are just some noteworthy examples of how live streaming is being used today:
• Facebook now makes it easier for users to shop in real time by rolling out the ability for brands and influencers to tag products from their Facebook shop before going live on either Facebook or Instagram, allowing viewers to easily tap to learn more and purchase while they are still viewing the livestream.
• Bambuser, a mobile streaming technology company and app, recently raised $45 million in new funding this year, with $34.5 million of that amount raised during the pandemic, by focusing most of their efforts on live online shopping. Global brands like H&M have realized the potential of this type of ecommerce and utilized livestreams to sell products through Bambuser’s mobile app.
• Call List is an example start-up that allows a presenter to engage a community or prospects through a live stream and directly sell products being discussed within the platform. It makes the process seamless and scalable for multi-level marketing companies. They can still get the level of interaction they need without the geographic constraints of a fixed location for the presentation.
• During the pandemic, virtual learning has taken on a newfound significance. With live video classes, educators can now reach their classes from a safe distance while continuing to provide the educated needed for students of all ages. The future of live learning remains to be determined, but if it sticks around, this could eliminate barriers previously in place like location and price for students of all socioeconomic backgrounds.
• Playbill, the in-theater program guide and magazine, has quickly pivoted within the last 6 months from solely providing announcements about in-person shows online to using their site to house live videos during the COVID-19 pandemic. The company now streams live video content on site, like the Playbill Pride Spectacular, a one-night-only “musical extravaganza” that featured TV and Broadway actors to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community.
• In the healthcare sector live streaming can be a means of engaging healthcare professionals with sales reps or patients with patient advocates in Q and A sessions. Experian uses the technology to host live discussions on credit and financial literacy, which is a model of direct customer engagement that live streaming enables and will become a key channel in the overall marketing mix.
Live Video and Social Media
The meteoric rise of Twitch (the world’s largest live streaming platform for gaming; owned by Amazon) and other game streaming applications has long been a kind of ‘canary in the coal mine’ of the general appetite for live content. To put it in context, Twitch streamed 1.1 billion hours of content in Q1 of this year and grew to 3 billion hours in Q2. In the social media space, all the major platforms have been investing heavily in live streaming, harnessing a captive and engaged audience for content. Here are some important examples:
• When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, influencers flocked to Instagram Live to connect with their followers and other influencers. Now, Facebook wants to help monetize this trend by rolling out digital badges and merchandise that fans can purchase to support influencers or brands directly on Instagram Live.
• LinkedIn’s Live feature allows companies and brands to reach the world’s largest professional network through live video content that sees on average 7x more reactions and 24x more engagements than traditional videos. Brands can utilize LinkedIn Events to promote and host webinars and other events and then livestream that content directly to their followers.
• Live video across social media offers exciting opportunities for KOLs or patient advocates to expand their reach and amplify their voices in the digital landscape. For example, KOLs could go live with health systems on LinkedIn to discuss the latest treatment advances and how that could impact patient care, while patient advocates can utilize Facebook live to raise awareness around the severity of various disease states.
Health and Wellness Applications
With the pandemic shutting down gyms and fitness boutiques across the country, many businesses leaned into platforms like Zoom to host virtual, live-streamed fitness classes. Your local yoga studio or gym likely now offers online video classes for a small price while their physical space is off-limits. The big hitters like Peloton and Equinox have only continued to excel in the pandemic, continuing to offer more and more online classes available from the comfort of your own home. The industry’s involvement in the future of live video is likely to include more virtual offerings than ever before, allowing people to take classes from all over the country, right from their living room.
There are also many opportunities for health and wellness brands to leverage this technology to create meaningful engagement with customers. Many conferences in the arts, business, and healthcare sector have not been cancelled. Instead they have moved to live streaming models, which gives attendees the flexibility to schedule participation around work schedules, but more importantly opens up a new means of targeting captive audiences with relevant content. The same could apply to product launches or speaker events, where a brand marketing team can have a live engagement with customers and stakeholders while minimizing the overhead required to develop something in-person. We think live video will play an important role in patient advocacy and support groups – allowing those groups to meet virtually to broadcast relevant information and even record sessions for syndication through other channels.
The growth of live streaming has introduced a kind of revolution in person to person interaction, breaking down the inherent geographic constraints and opening the door to greater and less produced content development and dissemination. Video in general has become ubiquitous in our culture, supplanting the written word for many people. The migration of content production and consumption to be more timely and live, a natural evolution that differentiates and varies video, will continue to grow over the next few years. The health and wellness industry has a unique opportunity to develop a significant presence in this area.