One of the most exciting developments in digital marketing in recent times is also one of the most accessible for small business owners – I’m talking about live video. In 2016, I covered live video as a marketing tool for the first time in my Social Media Savvy courses and have expanded on this every course since, as live video is far from a passing fad, but here to stay.

Live video for small business marketing is a no-brainer, increasing your visibility and reach, while giving a window into your business. Plus, it has a very low barrier to entry, as unlike professional videos hosted on your website, live video isn’t expected to be picture perfect – in fact, its ‘rough around the edges’ feel is part of its appeal.

Here’s why live video works, and how to start using video in your small business marketing mix.

Smartphone and tablet usage continue to rise

Smartphone ownership in Australia increased from 11.1 million in 2013 to 15.3 million in mid-2015, while tablet ownership increased from 6.3 million to 11.2 million in the same period according to IAB Australia. Concurrently, we’re using laptops and desktops less and less.

When referring to “digital marketing”, we’re not talking about people sitting at computers on desks anymore, we’re reaching people using smartphones and tablets on buses, in restaurants, in bed, on the lounge, when queuing, and while sitting on the toilet! Coupled with internet “on the go” is the rise and rise of live video.

Why video

If a picture paints a thousand words, then one minute of video is worth 1.8 million. Seven out of ten people see brands more positively after watching interesting video content from them, according to Axonn Research, and when your video is engaging, viewers share it – effectively doing your marketing for you.

From a search engine perspective, video on web pages keeps viewers there longer, which improves that page’s Google ranking.

Most importantly, video enables small business owners to share themselves – reaching and engaging new people and developing rapport while revealing a little of their personality, style and approach.

Why live video

Live video is part of social media marketing so the same principles apply: to be effective, we need to be accessible, authentic, adaptable, and responsive. These attributes require empathy, listening and storytelling.

Unlike traditional marketing, businesses do well when they’re informal, though not unprofessional, so it’s okay if your ‘lives’ are a little rough around the edges so long as you’re sharing information that’s personally relevant, useful and valuable to the people you’re reaching.

Live video breaks down the barriers between ‘us’ and ‘them’, making businesses far more personal and increasing the “know, like and trust” factor while simultaneously accelerating your reach online.

Live video within our favourite social platforms

Unlike the splashy launches and consequent disappointments of platforms such Periscope and Blab, live video within Facebook and Instagram has a massive advantage – your audience is already there.

YouTube, Periscope, Snapchat, and Vine already had live video before Facebook introduced it in April 2016, but Facebook’s massive size and market penetration brought it to mainstream attention. And with all new features on Facebook (and Instagram, owned by Facebook), Facebook changes their algorithm to preface live video content in order to accelerate adoption.

Alongside the rise and rise of using Facebook groups for marketing, it makes sense for business owners to use live video within groups to provide intimate access, solicit conversation and grow familiarity and rapport.

Using Facebook Live for your business marketing

“Use Facebook live video in a way that suits your clients – focusing on what they need help with, and where and when they’re online,” says Jenny De Lacy,small business video marketing coach.

“Start by deciding on your goals for Facebook live – is it to promote a specific event or latest offering, raise your profile, or connect with people in Facebook groups?” suggests Jenny.

Some ideas for using Facebook live to market your business include:

  • Talking about your most recent blog post or podcast, in order to extend the conversation, drive more people to visit your site, and explore the nuances of your topic;
  • Announcing a big event in your business, including a launch, new staff, new packages or programs;
  • Giving people a behind-the-scenes looks at your business, including your staff and customers, your services, process or products, and your charitable endeavours;
  • Giving a live insight at an event you’re running or attending;
  • Hold informal webinar-style presentations on a particular topic;
  • Hold live Q&As in the lead up to your event or online program;
  • Launch a new promotional campaign.

You’re able to go live through your personal Facebook profile, your Facebook page or Facebook group.

To help me get over my fear of video and inhibitions towards Facebook Live, I started using it on my personal Facebook page during the school holidays, making silly short videos of myself doing school holidays activities with my kids. (Much like the school holidays, my enthusiasm was far stronger in the beginning before limping towards the end.)

From there, I started going live in my Non-Planner’s Business Plan Facebook group. I now go live there regularly, as well as in the Hustle & Heart program private community group. I’ll shortly be going live more regularly on my Facebook page.

“If you’re promoting something, you’d likely use Facebook Live more often, concentrating on giving value that relates to your offer, with a link to your sales page,” says Jenny. “If you’re using Facebook Live to nurture and grow your community through your Facebook group, you might have a specific schedule to go live every week to answer people’s questions.”

And you don’t need to have your own Facebook group to do so, either. “Going live in a public group is a great way to add value and raise your profile, says Jenny. “Always check the group rules first to make sure that the group owners allow Facebook Lives from other people, or seek their permission first.”

You could also be hosted by a Facebook group owner, invited to ‘go live’ within their group to talk on a specific topic and respond to comments and questions from viewers. Once your live is finished, you can share it on other social media channels and upload it to YouTube or Vimeo if you wish.

The final word on live video

Live video takes the basic tenets of social media and social business and amplifies them, making it hugely effective for marketing small businesses. Like most digital marketing endeavours, the biggest barrier for business owners is not about marketing budget but about doing battle with your ego. Raising your visibility in business can be fraught with fear and inhibitions. But there’s hope! Like all things in life, it gets easier with practice.

If the idea of live video scares you, can I hazard a guess that it’s because you’ve got something important to say and a strong desire to share it? Having an opinion and a passion to share this is half the battle – so if live video scares you, chances are, you should probably do it.

If you’re ready to start using live video, join me at my upcoming Social Media Savvy courses. If you want something more intermediate level, are serious about video marketing in your small business, and also want a done-for-you, professionally-shot and edited video, then come along to our Powerful Video Marketing course.