And ... we're live: The real-time drama of social stories

How live social video has changed the social landscape—and killed the perfectly curated feed.

BY Cyndee Miller
VP, Content, Imagination

Real-time drama on Facebook Live, Instagram Stories and, of course, Twitter, has some social media users turning up their noses at canned corporate content campaigns. No more smoke and mirrors—people want the real deal. And they want it right now.

Acknowledging the death of the perfectly curated feed, Instagram debuted “live stories” in November 2016, letting users share live videos for up to an hour. Then the content would disappear. Until last June. Now, once users finish broadcasting a live vid, they can share it to their story for 24 hours (or toss it).

Fashionably live

Fashion marketers glommed onto the feature and continue the live content blitz. Makeup artist Pat McGrath regularly uses it to hype new products. And Brit retailer Topshop used its feed to tease its live stream during London Fashion Week in September.

Kohl’s used a similar countdown content strategy for its New York Fashion Week show with reality-star-turned-designer Lauren Conrad’s line on Periscope. Taking the concept a step further, the retailer figured out a way to monetize the live stream. Using the new Kohl’s mobile-optimized site, viewers could shop the fashion as it hit the runway in real time, according to a report in Retail Dive.

Yet despite all the tricked-out tech, even the slickest of brands are keeping it real.

“What the audience wants isn’t super produced,” Instagram head of fashion partnerships Eva Chen told WWD. “We find that people like that raw, ‘I am sitting right there’ feeling.”

Facebook’s massive investment in live video hints the pref for authenticity may have long-term legs. Last year, the social media giant partnered with nearly 140 media companies and celebrities to create videos for its live-streaming service. Together, the annual contracts totaled more than $50 million, with Buzzfeed’s $3 million deal topping the list, according to The Wall Street Journal. Celebrity partners include comedian Kevin Hart, chef Gordon Ramsay and NFL quarterback Russell Wilson.

It’s not just Facebook paying publishers and personalities to play in the space. Companies are jumping into the action, too. And for some early adopters, the ROI is real. In March, Tiffany & Co.’s streamed event with actresses Zosia Mamet and Zoe Kravitz, along with musician St. Vincent, racked up 4.7 million views in real time. The jewelry company also created 17 on-demand clips during the event and uploaded three recaps the next day—hitting 23.9 million impressions.

“Generating nearly 24 million impressions means 24 million ways to connect with millennials,” David Deal, a digital marketing consultant, told Adweek. “Tiffany has established a foothold that will allow the brand to do social media retargeting or display campaigns.”

“Generating nearly 24 million impressions means 24 million ways to connect with millennials.”

David Deal

Let’s get engaged

It’s not just about attracting eyeballs. Live video also promises to improve the quality of consumer engagements. Back in March 2016, Facebook said initial data showed the average user watched live video three times longer than video that’s no longer live and that they were 10 times more likely to comment on a live video. And yet the megachannel hasn’t felt compelled to offer any updated numbers since then.

Snapchat is putting its own tech twist on the reality trend. Late last year, the company debuted Spectacles, $130 video-enabled glasses that let wearers record 10-second clips. The idea is that video captured “in the moment” is more authentic and thereby more meaningful—or at least that’s what Snap is betting.

A few leading-edge marketers are incorporating footage from the goggles in their content marketing. U.K. grocery chain Sainsbury’s shot an ad through the glasses to appear on Snapchat. And Hyatt equipped eight employees at locations around the world with Spectacles to capture their personal experiences. The company then edited the clips together for a video shared on its YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter channels.

Yet for all the buzz, Spectacles may be a fleeting fancy. According to TechCrunch, the company sold only approximately 41,500 pairs in Q2—a 35 percent dive from the previous quarter.

Tegan Jones contributed to this story.

published: December 13, 2017