The Science Of Live Videos And The Art of Getting It Right

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Watching Andrea Bocelli live, on Sunday, April 12, 2020, was so surreal!

But what made it even more special was watching it with my grandpa!

You see, my 80-year-old grandfather is the absolute king of swank and growing up around him, I fell in love with some of what have now become my favourite things … red wine, croissants, cheese platters, jazz and of course the opera, so it was a blessing sharing the live concert with him.

My colleague shared the link to the concert with me and I hurriedly sent it to my grandpa. It was a wonderful experience to share in our love for Andrea Bocelli’s music even though we were miles apart.

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And that’s the reality of the world today.

Now more than ever, the world is turning to technology to stay connected. This is as a result of the global pandemic which has forced human beings across the world to keep their distance from one another.

And with features like calls, videos, photos, games and of course, live streams, things like social distancing are now a breeze.

Live videos have especially become very popular but the phenomenon didn’t start today.

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With platforms like Livestream (launched in 2007) and YouTube Live (launched in 2008) who first introduced us to the world of live videos online and FacebookTwitterInstagramSnapchatPeriscopeLinkedIn and others introducing the Live feature to their apps, the successful element has come to stay.

In Andrea Bocelli’s case, Italy has had over 155,000 confirmed cases and almost 20,000 deaths, and the world-renowned opera singer used a live video to bring people together, spreading the message of hope. Hosted on YouTube, the Live video had 2.8 million peak concurrent viewers, according to YouTube and yielded over 26million views in less than 24 hours.

Where the message has been to cure boredom and engage with fans, musicians like Tory Lanez and FalzTheBahdGuy have proven that Live really does work. Tory, for example, has broken Instagram Live records, reaching over 350,000 views, at a time, and even launching merchandise for his Instagram Live-based show, Quarantine Radio. For these celebrities, Live videos have become a platform to engage with fans, showcase their art and bring people together for the fun of it.

Beyond pop-culture, one of my favourite pastors, Pastor Poju Oyemade, about two weeks ago, started a live series. One of the sessions with Reverend Sam Adeyemi, which focused on leadership, the pandemic and the state of the country, recorded thousands of views.

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But why are brands not getting it right?

Why are brands not getting as many eyeballs as the pop-culture and faith-based “influencers”?

I have found myself joining a number of live videos initiated by brands, and even with the presence of a brand ambassador, celebrity, artist or DJ, the numbers were not impressive.

What could be the reason for this?

To find the answers, we have to dig deep into the reason why Live videos are successful in the first place:

  • Spontaneity: I mistakenly stumbled on one of Nigerian Instagram comedian, Father DMW (Muhammadu Abdulai) and London-based Ugandan model, Eva Apio’s live videos and I found it to be hilarious, very off-the-cuff and easy.
    What started off as a random live talent show hosted by Eva has yielded as much as 50,000 views, at a time, with Nigerian celebrities like Alex Iwobi, Don Jazzy, Ebuka and Adekunle Gold, tuned in.
  • Planned but not stiff: Planned videos can also be fun and that is where trends like the “Battle of Hits” hosted by top music producers across the world, falls.
    In Nigeria for example, when music producers, Shizzi and Sarz had their “Battle of Hits” Live video, it got as much as 25,000 views, at a time. The trend is based on two things young people love good music and nostalgia. Which leads me to my next point:
  • That Edge: What’s that edge your live video has? Is it just another concert? Another training session? Another platform to have your influencers and ambassadors look like they were forced to be there? Or is it a video with an edge hinged on your target audience’s interests?
  • Engage with the audience: When I watched FalzTheBahdGuy’s “Ask Me Anything” Live video, I was hooked. I sat through what didn’t feel like at least four hours and shared the video with everyone who cared to watch. Why? Because Falz got us all involved. Even his family joined in.
    Successful Instagram videos like his, which had as much as 20,000 views, at a time, saw Falz speak with multiple fans. The live video had Falz interact with numerous fans giving them a chance to get to know him better, breaking the celebrity facade.
  • Bringing Diverse People Together: At least that’s what Diddy did with Team Love Dance-A-Thon, and exactly what Global Citizen will do on April 18, 2020, with its “Together At Home” Concert.
    Diddy brought creatives from across the world, like LeBron James, Jennifer Lopez, Alex Rodriguez, Drake, Justin Bieber, Lizzo, Tiwa Savage and Burna Boy to discuss the effect of the epidemic on their vicinity, their art and his new show. Tagged The Team Love Dance-A-Thon, the show was put together to celebrate health workers in the forefront fighting the global pandemic Coronavirus.
  • Branding = Repellant: From the trends over the past few weeks, it is quite obvious that branding repels views. It’s almost like a turn-off. I have joined a number of overbranded live videos and I’ve cringed at the numbers. And this is exactly where our brands get it wrong. As brand managers, we always want to brand everything and heavily too. Brand custodians are guilty of shoving their brands in the faces of their customers, consumers and fans.
  • For The Average Nigerian, Data Is Expensive: Have we even thought that maybe Nigerians can’t afford to watch live videos? Widespread poverty is a cruel reality for us in Nigeria. Unlike other countries where data plans are relatively affordable, and there’s a 47% YoY increase in the consumption of live videos, Nigeria is not one of them. The bulk of the population earns less than the N30,000 minimum wage and are spending 95% of it on food and survival. It is quite expensive to spend at least N1000 on 1gb of data and squander it all on live videos.
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So, how do we get our live videos to be the centre of interest, to be shared by thousands and to be the most talked-about?

Here’s a clue — Find that one thing that people care about, that one thing that’ll make them use all the data that they would have otherwise saved, and no it is not your brand or your ambassadors.

If unplanned videos work, how do we make our videos to be just as random, not too branded but just as interesting?

That’s the question. And I hope as brand custodians we can take a learning or two from the masters of influence — celebrities, artists, actors and socialites amongst others.

A key thing to note though is that this season is not about your brands but about your consumers. It is more about bringing people together and giving them something to find interesting and engaging.

I can’t wait to see what brand eventually breaks the cycle of the uninteresting brand-related live videos.

I’ll be on the lookout!

P.S. I think I speak for everyone when I say we’ve had enough of random live videos. Live videos are not a must-do! Don’t be a me-too. Be distinct!

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The Science Of Live Videos And The Art of Getting It Right - Brand SpurThe Science Of Live Videos And The Art of Getting It Right - Brand Spur

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