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Live Streaming for Business: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

With the rising popularity of live streaming video apps, like Periscope and Meerkat, businesses are starting to pay attention and use these tools to their advantage.
Live streaming is not new, but the added mobile aspect makes it easier than ever to capture, stream and share live content. While the abovementioned apps were only released a few months ago, they offer some exciting possibilities, as well as potential problems, for businesses.

The Good

Live streaming allows for transparency, which humanizes a business and builds trust with your audience/consumers. It connects people on opposite sides of the globe, and therefore has the potential to start and rapidly grow a community.
The immediacy and real-time aspect of the tool enables the viewers to have a personal connection with the streamer. And of course, as it’s an immersive experience, there is an entertainment value to it as well.
As a marketing tool, live streaming lends a company an air of authenticity that’s not necessarily there through other marketing mediums. So in what ways can you use live streaming for your business? Here are some ideas:

  • Live events such as your conferences, parties and product launches
  • Behind the scenes – creating a product, a tour of the work place, etc.
  • Q&A sessions, and live support and tutorials
  • Announcements & giveaways

The Bad

The problem with this type of technology is that it’s live and unedited, which poses a risk for some businesses and entrepreneurs who aren’t comfortable being “on air” or who aren’t familiar with the medium.
Live streaming can be technically difficult and particularly challenging when it comes to things like bandwidth. Quality of footage is a major issue and if poor, it can reflect badly on professional organizations.
Furthermore, Gene Marks from Forbes argues: “I’m not condemning Periscope or Meerkat… But, at least for now, these services are just pop culture. They’re toys being used by individuals and celebrities… They’re not business tools. And they are certainly not in the same league as Google Hangouts on Air. That’s the streaming service from the search firm that has been around now for a few years. It does what Periscope and Meerkat does. Only much, much better. Particularly if you’re running a business. Big or small.
With Google Hangouts on Air you can stream your event, or anything else, live and to the general public. People who are in your Google ‘circles’; can participate and anyone with a Gmail address can watch it, just like anyone with a Twitter account can watch something streamed on Periscope and Meerkat…
With Google Hangouts on Air, all events can be immediately saved to DaVita’s YouTube page for future viewing and comments. The content lives on…
But I won’t be able to do this with Periscope or Meerkat… You can’t easily schedule things in advance and invite people – they just have to find your event somehow. And, most importantly, you can’t save your videos long term like you can with Google Hangouts on Air.”

The Ugly

As with any technology, serious problems can arise with the use of live streaming. Privacy is inevitably a concern, as a Periscope broadcast (for example) is public unless you set its privacy. This can raise issues of consent, privacy laws, and Periscope’s privacy policy.
Piracy & Copyright:
During the Mayweather vs. Pacquiao fight, Periscope received numerous takedown notices for breaching copyright. Keep this in mind if/when you consider streaming ticketed and pay-per-view events.
Make sure that you have an agreement with the organizers of the events, and put a clear disclaimer wherever you promote your broadcast. Today’s world is a copyrighted one, so make sure that the content you stream is yours and only yours.

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