For companies that rely on industry events, expos and trade shows to connect with their key audiences, there is a void being created as those events get cancelled around the world. As these brands find their ability to directly connect and communicate with wholesale buyers or individual consumers limited, they need to be innovating new ways to reach their audiences. Luckily, technology companies most brands use every day already have functionality that can help overcome this gap: live streams. In fact, the recommendations below may allow brands to create an even more immersive experience for their customers than trade shows enable.
Most major social media platforms from Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube to Twitter and TikTok have a live mode, which allows you to broadcast live to your audience through the app.
Your audience has the ability to submit questions and comments in real-time, creating an interactive experience not unlike a traditional trade show floor experience. If your brand has been looking for a way to get customers onsite to see how products are created, produced, grown, or packaged, live streams could be the tool you’ve been looking for. Coupled with the current stay-at-home measures in place around the world and the increased demand it has created for digital content, the opportunity is there for the taking.
The best part is it can be done from the palm of your hand. While we would typically recommend brands up the production quality of their live streams a bit (streaming through an ethernet-connected device to prevent lag, using a professional camera to get the best image quality, and having a community manager on hand to address questions as they come in), shooting these in selfie mode is more than acceptable right now. As late night hosts and politicians broadcast from home, consumers are getting increasingly used to the production quality inherent in filming outside of a studio.
Most apps simply require a viewer to have an account to watch a live stream and they don’t limit the number of attendees, questions, or comments that can be submitted during a live event. But before logging on, here a few things to consider to produce the best content you can.
Also, if your brand is totally new to live streams, start with the platform you’re most comfortable on. For many brands, that means Facebook. There are several outlets that share Facebook Live How-To’s; this how-to video from Hubspot is a great start.
So, if you’ve had to cancel your upcoming trade show, consider going live on social media to hold a virtual event. If this is your first time producing a live stream on your social media channel, you may be wondering how to host a virtual trade show.
Below, we outline 5 tips to make your virtual trade show and social media live stream successful.
- Choose your host wisely.
Not only will they be the face and voice representing your brand, they’ll need to be prepared to answer questions and handle the technology, all in real-time and in front of the audience. This may be a great opportunity to leverage an influencer or content partner that your brand works with who may be more accustomed to the medium. If you’re using someone not as familiar with the Facebook Live platform, be sure to study up on the basics, like camera angles and privacy settings, and engage with your audience during the broadcast. Re-introduce yourself throughout the video as new viewers join, encourage audience members to like and share the video, and ask for questions.
- Send out invitations.
You’ll want to ensure your audience is aware, with appropriate notice, of your live event taking place. This can take many forms: a Facebook event, posts on other social channels, messaging on your website, communication to email lists, or even 1:1 outreach to desired audiences. Try reaching out specifically to the people who you had planned to connect with in-person at the cancelled event. Be sure you include all pertinent information, date and exact time, as well as a link to your Facebook profile for easy access.
- Be creative.
Industry events and trade shows are great because of the multi-sensory connection they facilitate. Don’t forget the many ways you were planning to connect with your audience in-person. Consider sending product samples to top targets, along with a physical invite to the Facebook Live event. This will allow your audience to simultaneously experience the product—taste, touch, smell—and interact with your host during the live stream, just like they would have in-person.
- Seize the opportunity.
While it may not have been part of the original plan, interacting with your audience in this way may present new and existing opportunities for your brand. A natural food brand could broadcast live from the farm where their product originates. A clothing manufacturer could bring in the artist who provides their most popular designs. Live streams give you the opportunity to share the people, places and things that make your brand unique in a way a third-party event or trade show floor may not.
- Follow up.
In addition to the host, make sure you have team members monitoring the event, taking notes on attendees, questions received, new opportunities identified. As you would following an expo or trade show, follow up with connections and personalize those interactions based on their participation in the live stream.
Contact Saltwater to learn how we can help with your social media needs.