One of the biggest trends in social media has been the rise of live-streaming, with Facebook Live and Twitter-owned Periscope currently dominating the space. Some of this year’s most viral videos — including the Chewbacca Mom and Buzzfeed watermelon explosion — originated on Facebook Live. Meanwhile Periscope announced on its one-year anniversary in March that more than 200 million broadcasts have been created on the app to date.

A number of brands have been experimenting with live-streaming over the past year, broadcasting everything from impromptu happenings to carefully orchestrated marketing stunts. Because of the interactive nature of live-streams – both Facebook Live and Periscope allow viewers to comment on and like videos in real-time – brands can use the medium to forge relationships with consumers new ways. And it appears to be working. In fact, nearly eight in 10 U.S. retail execs say producing live-streamed videos helps them create more authentic interactions with audiences, according to eMarketer.

But as with any new and buzzy platform, it can be tough for marketers to determine how to best incorporate live-streams into their marketing strategies and figure out what will resonate. Below are four ways brands can experiment with live video and figure out what works for their audiences:

1. Give viewers access to exclusive content

People love to stay up to date on their favorite musicians, actresses and athletes, whether it’s checking Instagram to see what wacky #TBT their favorite star has posted or obsessively watching celebrity Snapchat stories. Brands can capitalize on this by pairing with celebrities and giving fans access to a live experience they won’t be able to find anywhere else — whether it’s an exclusive interview, behind-the-scenes peek at a concert or first glance at an artist’s upcoming project.

During the Grammy Awards earlier this year, Target partnered with Gwen Stefani to create a live music video for her song ‘Make Me Like You.’ The video aired during a four-minute commercial break, but fans could watch it via Facebook Live and Periscope. The live-streams gave fans a rare chance to watch a music video as it was being made.

2. Create a Q&A session or show

Live-streaming makes it easy for broadcasters to have a conversation with those who are watching since viewers can comment on what’s happening in a video as it progresses. Because of this, brands can position themselves as thought leaders in their respective categories by hosting live Q&A’s with relevant experts, influencers and employees, giving viewers the chance to ask questions and learn useful information.

Every Thursday at 4 p.m., Benefit Cosmetics hosts a live-streamed show on Facebook Live called Tipsy Tricks. In the show, the host and guest drink cocktails while talking beauty hacks & answering questions from whoever is tuning in. By doing this, Benefit Cosmetics is able to engage with its fans in an informative and fun way while positioning itself as a go-to source for pressing beauty questions.

It’s Thursday & time for Tipsy Tricks—the #fathersday edition: MY DAD DOES MY MAKEUP!

Posted by Benefit Cosmetics on Thursday, June 16, 2016

3. Show off what’s happening behind the scenes

Live videos are inherently unpolished since they don’t go through any formal editing process — once the camera starts rolling, whatever happens is out there for the world to see. Because of this, live video lends itself to a more intimate way of communicating since viewers know that what they’re seeing is the real deal. Brands can leverage this by using live-streams to give viewers an insider look at how a company operates internally. For example, a luxury designer could use live video to show viewers what things are like at its headquarters the day before a big fashion show.

Last summer, GE unveiled #DroneWeek, a Periscope-focused weeklong effort that gave viewers a drone’s-eye view of the company’s jet engines, locomotives and wind turbines. According to Co.Create, the experience “featured interviews and expert commentary from GE scientists” and was “like Shark Week for science and social video nerds.” To make the experience interactive, an account named @GEDronePilot commented and responded to viewer questions in real-time.

4. Address consumer concerns in a quick and transparent way

While live-streaming can be a great way to give viewers access to exclusive content or fun behind-the-scenes footage, it can also come in handy when brands find themselves in compromising situations. Since going live is as easy as the push of a few buttons, brands who are looking to quickly address consumer concerns or answer questions can take to Periscope or Facebook Live and start chatting with people immediately.

Take Southwest Airlines, for example. When Winter Storm Jonas hit the east coast earlier this year, thousands of flights were delayed and cancelled, leaving travelers scrambling to figure out if their own travel plans had been affected and whether or not they could get a refund.

Instead of just answering questions on Twitter and fielding phone calls, Southwest took to Periscope and Facebook Live to broadcast its network operations control room, giving viewers a peek into what the airline’s staffers were doing in real time to manage the effects of the storm and ensure flyers would make it to their destinations safely. Using live-streaming platforms in “crisis” situations like this one can help build trust and allay fears amongst consumers since it gives them an honest, authentic look at what’s going on behind the curtain.

Whether you love live-streaming or think it’s the end of mindfulness as we know it, there’s little doubt that it’s becoming mainstream. So follow these tips and capitalize on the technology.

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