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According to a Livestream and New York Magazine survey, 80 percent of brand audiences would rather watch live video than read a blog, and 82 percent prefer live video over social media posts.

Live video streaming has gone from being an add-on optional marketing tactic to an essential vehicle for building stronger connections with customers.

Whether you use Facebook Live, Instagram Stories, Twitter, Snapchat Stories, YouTube Live Streaming or Periscope, live streaming apps give you a platform to give your audience the type of content that resonates with them.

If you haven’t yet incorporated live video into your marketing strategy, here are some ideas for bringing out the best in your brand.

» Hold a live Q&A. Open the floor to questions, inviting your audience to share theirs via comments in the live feed. Then select a few and answer them on the spot. In a way, it’s similar to a Twitter chat, only on video and without the use of a hashtag.

» Give a behind-the-scenes view. Consider offering a tour of your office or production facility where you make the magic happen. Giving viewers a visual backstage pass to the inner workings of your company can make them feel more in tune with your brand.

» Unveil a new product or service. Live video gives you a way to get people excited about new products and service offerings. It’s more memorable than static photos and gives you an opportunity to show off features and benefits rather than just write about them.

» Provide product demos and how-to lessons. Seeing is believing, and live video allows you to demonstrate in real-time how products work. Take the opportunity to teach customers via “how-tos,” enabling them to get the most benefit from your products. When you show rather than only tell, you can build more credibility and trust with your audience.

» Humanize your brand by showcasing your team. Another way to build trust is to use live video for introducing your employees. You have real people behind your business and letting your followers (also real people) meet them via live video can help make your brand more relatable to your audience. It also will strengthen confidence in your company’s capabilities as you share your team members’ credentials, skills, education and expertise.

» Show you care about the world around you. If your company supports any charities or participates in community activities that uplift those in need, live video is a great way to capture your involvement. Showing your team giving back to the community can build a powerful emotional bond with customers and facilitate loyalty.

» Share customer testimonials and success stories. Why only publish your customer testimonials on your website? If you have raving fans, interview them live about why they love your products and services and how your business has made a difference in their lives.

To jumpstart your brainstorming efforts, watch how other brands (particularly those in your industry) are using live video streaming to promote their offerings and engage customers. Also, reach out to a SCORE mentor for insight. SCORE mentors have expertise in marketing and all other aspects of starting and running a business. They can provide helpful guidance as you formulate your live video strategy.

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For more information about starting or operating a small business, call SCORE at (434) 295-6712 or visit centralvirginia.score.org.

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