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Social Media Streaming: Can Streaming and Social Media Sit Hand-in-Hand?
Successful social video initiatives combine the best bets of technology with the smarts of psychology
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There is no denying the huge impact that social media is having on our world. From its humble beginnings only a few years ago, it has exploded into a veritable frenzy resulting in an array of social media sites for networking, socializing, and sharing photos and videos.

The phenomenon has drastically changed the world of online video, with videos being viewed by a large number of people in this way, but there is often a sacrifice on quality. How can social media tools be used effectively to complement online marketing efforts without compromising quality?

Video Quality Issues on Social Media Platforms

Social media sites have the eyeballs, but they are not designed for video, which means poor quality content. Video sites driven by content celivery networks (CDNs) are specifically designed for video delivery and have exceptional quality. Although CDNs are optimised for large object delivery like video, they in themselves are not geared up to attract visitors and create an environment for social gathering.

However, putting the two things together achieves the best of both worlds. The key is to embedding a high-quality player into the site, which means retaining the control, allowing effective reporting and ensuring good quality. In fact, using Facebook or YouTube as the host website is no more complicated than using a company’s homepage. The actual hosting of files is done by the streaming company, so space isn’t an issue.  In addition, because you can control the players and their functionality, you can direct what the features and experience is to be. You will ensure brand affinity by avoiding any readily available third-party links, which could encourage viewers to click away from the site. Being in effective control of a viewers behaviour allows you to shape their journey through the brand.

I have previously written about the perils of diluting your brand using such sites and I am pleased to report that more and more large brands are moving towards the solution above, realizing and regaining their power and starting to implement social streaming solutions properly.

A Social Environment

The main advantage of bringing webcasts into this environment is that there is a ready-built community. A webcast hosted on a company website requires that the desired audience goes to that website and clicks on that link from there. This has a number of implications. First, you need to do a lot of work making that audience aware of the video, and secondly there needs to be a compelling reason for them to logon and watch.

However, as mentioned above, many people already use social media sites on a daily basis. By building groups and fans, you have a ready-made and interested target audience logging onto their accounts and seeing your video pop up on their screen. The viewer may then rate the video or recommend it to friends within the context of social media site. This is how video clips become viral as the momentum of the interest builds and drives more and more clicks to the social site and in turn the video. This “snowball effect” has tremendous value to marketers, as  can recommending related clips. 

As with “non-social video”, the key to further enhance the experience and ensure stickiness is to engage the audience. We are already seeing that communities are becoming quite blasé about the communication mechanisms available on social sites. To overcome this boredom and apathy, we need to get creative. Groovy Gecko is one of the pioneers of webcasting live into Facebook. We recently did a couple of live streams into Facebook for a major sports equipment manufacturer. This involved not only providing the opportunity to easily share the video with their friends, make comments, “like” the webcast, watching in a familiar and branded community environment, but crucially allowed them to comment on the event in real-time as well as conduct real-time polls. It’s this social engagement that best mimics the human social interaction of the real world.

Another “trick” we employed is to reward viewers for their time and involvement. We encourage the required behaviour by awarding the equivalent of a “man of the match” for the participants who best contribute to the forums. This builds kudos in the community, further driven interest via envy for the next event and again stimulates involvement.

“Empathy” is a key tool we use to guarantee success. Where possible, put yourself in the end viewers’ context to ensure their experience is the best it could be. For example, if you further personalise the content to their language, over-dubbed or subtitled, the engagement factor sky-rockets.

The plethora of built-in tools on social sites for announcing live events are very powerful. We know, for example, that if you allow someone to easily add the event into their daily calendar with a link, they are more likely to remember and arrive at the event.    

Being Truly Social

The companies who will leverage this social environment to succeed will combine great technology in a meaningful and appropriate way, providing thier content in the consumer’s own social environment, point of view and context. This will ultimately build branding affinity and stickiness as they feel part of the community “scene”.

Being truly social is about combining the best bits of technology for effortless and natural interactions. But it’s not enough. You need to apply psychology.  

Here is our secret to success for social media streaming. It’s understand how humans interact in societal situations, and mimic this seamlessly using technology so that the experience is as natural, effortless and “technology-invisible.” That’s the way they “like it”!

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