Whatcha doin’? No, really. What are you doing….right now? Thanks to our friends at Facebook, Twitter, and, to an extent, Snapchat, the answer to this question is more likely now than ever to be broadcast in live streaming video to anyone who cares to know. Live social streaming is available to the masses; from hard-hitting press announcements, to live events, and even what you’re cooking for dinner, anyone’s “now” can be everyone’s “now.” But how can marketers adapt this new technology to authentically connect with consumers? Read on for five things to know before you go live.

Is this really a thing?

Rumors began swirling earlier this year that Facebook and Twitter were in talks with the NFL to purchase streaming rights for Thursday Night Football, and in early April, it was confirmed that Twitter will pay about $15 million to stream 10 games during the 2016 season. Not only are digital and social giants investing in streaming products, public appetite is increasing: live content consumption on digital channels in the back end of 2015 increased by a whopping 129% year-over-year. It’s clear that consumers are ready, and social networks will be stepping it up to meet that demand. The revolution is now, and it’s coming to you live from everywhere.

We see you, Snapchat.

While live streaming broadcasts have not yet been added to Snapchat’s platform, with its daily 10 billion video views and 100 million users their competitors are keeping their eyes peeled. Face swapping is emerging as an immensely popular feature (not to be out-done, Facebook acquired face-swapping app MSQRD in March 2016), along with the ability to draw, filter and place stickers on snaps (Facebook announced in April it would add this feature to Live, Periscope will add it this year as well), and live video chat. Time will tell if Snapchat will keep innovating at this breakneck pace and, more importantly, if the Facebooks and Twitters of the world will keep up.

What gives you the right?

Live streaming is in the moment, but Facebook Live videos and Persicopes can be saved indefinitely, so that means marketers can’t just stream whatever they want. If the rampant, illegal transmission of the $100 pay-per-view broadcast of the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight last year on Periscope is any indication – and, according to Periscope CEO Kayvon Beykpour it is – content rights management should be carefully considered before playing in this space. Marriott Rewards’ Periscope of musical performances at SXSW 2016 made waves with interactivity that amplified the event’s excitement, but executing in partnership with Universal Music Group made sure all the legal boxes were checked.

Facebook and Twitter leading the pack.

With its long-standing ownership of real time commentary, and streaming app Periscope, Twitter brings a strong offering to the social streaming table. Since its February 2015 launch, Periscope amassed 10 million + users, snagged iTunes’ 2015 App of the Year, and transmitted 100 million + broadcasts on the heels of new embedded streams on Twitter. Meanwhile, Facebook launched Live in 2015, expanding to both desktop and mobile devices, opening an Application Programming Interface (API) that lets any camera stream, and touting the addition of filters, reactions, and comments among a slew of other improvements over the last few months. With these bells & whistles, Facebook seems poised to dominate in this arena, and 1.6 billion active users and a tripled quarterly profit in Q1 2016 doesn’t hurt, either.

Islands in the stream.

Like any emerging social network, marketers must understand the community nuances on each platform. First, look at what others have done successfully. A glimpse into a live event might be better for Periscope, where Twitter users can follow along in real-time. That’s not to say one-way content won’t work on Facebook Live (a Chewbacca mask unboxing video has become the most-viewed live stream video in history (we dare you not to smile), with nearly 3M views, and both E! News and ad agency DigitasLBi have recently partnered with Facebook to launch live talk shows), but Facebook’s comment ticker and real-time reactions offer a friendlier interactive environment for experiences like Q&A’s and product demos. Familiarize yourself with Facebook and Periscope best practices, and adapt them to your streaming strategy.

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