Social livestreaming commerce is fast becoming a staple in any marketer’s toolkit. After all, a social live stream allows brands to:
- Provide a live, interactive experience for their customers
- Tap into an existing audience while potentially attracting new shoppers
- Spotlight products in a more meaningful way
- Leverage influencer / creator partnerships for exclusive influencer marketing content
- Get surfaced more organically through social algorithms
While a social livestream can be a great way to engage with an existing social follower base, like any event, it requires a bit of upfront work to ensure attendance. And brands that put in a significant amount of upfront promotional work (or costs) may be disappointed if the turnout isn’t what they expected.
First and foremost, it’s important to understand how to measure ROI of a social livestream events, as well as how to attract more viewers to live streams.
What is livestream shopping?
Live shopping refers to any event that takes a shopper from passively browsing a brand or website on their own, and engaging in a live video experience.
Livestream shopping refers to attending a scheduled livestream event (whether the event was prerecorded or is happening in real time) online, hosted by a brand, or on occasion, sometimes an influencer on behalf of a brand.
Live shopping on Facebook or Instagram starts by hosting a live stream event on the platform. As part of the live shopping experience, brands can curate a ‘playlist’ of items that will appear on screen during the event for shoppers to learn more. U.S.-based merchants with a shop can actually enable checkout through the social platform directly. While selling fees may apply to orders, these fees are currently suspended through to the end of 2022.
Of course, live shopping isn’t limited to social media livestreams in North America. Retailers have started their own proprietary livestreaming networks, like Amazon Live and Walmart Shop Live. Brands can also host their own livestream events using a range of one-to-many live streaming platforms and apps, many of which can be cross-streamed to social media channels.
Another option is to offer one-to-one live video shopping on a brand website. Unlike a livestream shopping event, one-to-one live commerce typically isn’t event-based. It may be appointment-based in a personal shopping or clienteling situation, but most live video shopping requests are made in real time, on demand, right when a customer needs some assistance as part of their shopping journey.
How to measure social media livestream ROI
Most social media livestreams are free, in that platforms like Instagram Live and Facebook Live charge $0 to run an event. However, there may be ancillary costs associated with running a livestream shopping event, some of which are hard costs, others of which are part of calculating the ROI of an ongoing or recurring expense, such as a subscription or hardware cost.
Livestream shopping event costs may include:
- Platform or app fees (particularly for self-hosted events)
- Equipment fees (one-time or rentals)
- Host fees
- Influencer / creator fees (if co-hosting an event)
- Transaction fees (for in-event purchases)
- Advertising and marketing (potentially including hours / salaries)
The most basic form of calculating ROI is looking at how much total investment was spent on attracting shoppers to the livestream event, divided by how many online sales conversions happen within the event itself.
This strategy however, leaves a few things to be desired. For one thing, some shoppers may not be ready to convert within a social livestream event. Instead, a viewer may use the event to learn about a product, launch, or event a brand as a whole, and then complete their online shopping purchase later. In this instance, attribution is a lot less clean.
Key measures of livestream shopping event ROI include:
- Number of attendees by promotion / acquisition channel that attended the event (to assess which channels are drawing eyes)
- Number of attendees by promotion / acquisition channel that converted during the event (similar to the above)
- Number of attendees that attended the event and make a purchase within 3 days, 7 days, and 14 days
- Number of attendees that joined the event that weren’t previous followers / an increase in overall followers on a platform
- Overall uptick in conversions within a reasonable period of time after the livestream
- Cost per incremental conversion
- Return on ad spend (ROAS) based on incremental sales
Facebook Live and Instagram Live also provide helpful insights on the total audience size, how engaged they were, and what products were interacted with during a live shopping show.
The long and short of it is, if there's an increase in followers, site traffic, or sales - particularly around products featured in a shoppable livestream - then it can consider positive ROI for a livestream shopping event.
However, there is always room for improvement, and it starts by having more viewers attend an event in the first place.
How to increase live stream viewers on Facebook Live
Getting more Facebook livestream shopping viewers for a live shopping event really boils down to becoming your own personal hype machine.
Realistically, shoppers know they will be sold to in a live shopping just - just like they know they’re being sold to it if they turn on QVC or the Home Shopping Network. The trick is to make it feel like a must-see event, filled with exclusive content, opportunities, and excitement that can’t be captured anywhere else.
Here are 12 proven strategies for getting more Facebook live stream viewers.
- Come up with a really compelling event title and description.
Think of it like hosting a party. Themes are nice and way more likely to get people in the celebratory spirit than just ‘come to our house party’.
- Promote it through social media, email, web, and possibly paid placement
The most cost-effective livestreams require $0 in advertising spend, simply tapping into existing traffic and audiences a brand or retailer owns. But if a livestream is of particular importance, some sponsored ads or display ads, particularly on a retargeting basis, can be an effective way to boost attendance. Pro hack: It also costs you $0 to post links to your livestream in popular communities and groups.
- Encourage registrations
A lot of livestream traffic comes down to customers being in the right place at the right time. But getting onto a shopper’s calendar can be an awesome way to remind them there’s a thing they want to attend and watch. Encourage pre-registrations by offering an incentive, like a draw or discount code, and send reminders to shoppers right until the event begins. A live countdown can also be a helpful tool to remind people when an event is happening.
- Co-brand with a creator or influencer
What’s better than leveraging one captive audience? Tapping into two or more. Take an existing relationship and have that creator co-host an event; double the promotion to double the chance of eyeballs.
- Join forces and make it a party
Horizontal marketing - where one brand teams up with other ‘like’ brands - is always a clever idea. The idea of attending a show of 'The Top Holiday Gifts for Men' has a much broader appeal than 'The Top Holiday Gifts from XYZ Shaving Company'. Similar to working with influencers, exposure to new audiences is basically a give-in, and audience numbers for social commerce events are almost guaranteed to skyrocket without having to do anything at all. While the logistics of order fulfillment may take a bit of thinking, the outcomes should be worth it.
- Create a teaser video
Whip shoppers into a frenzy by highlighting what to expect at the event with a short 20-30 second teaser video. Give sneak peeks of items, mention promotions or contests happening during the livestream, and always drive home the time and date.
- Multi-stream the event
Banking all attendance numbers on a single platform, never mind a single channel, is an easy way to potentially diminish the number of viewers that attend. If your brand has multiple Facebook channels such as pages, groups, and events, try cross-streaming to all of them. And of course, don’t forget about cross-streaming on other social commerce platforms like YouTube Live, Instagram Live, Twitter and your own website.
- Have an incentive or promotion as part of the event
Make attendees feel like VIPs by offering up some sort of exclusive offer they’re only eligible for by joining live. Examples include running a giveaway, sharing an exclusive coupon code that’s only valid for a short period after the livestream, or offering a free gift with purchase made within a specific window or during the livestream.
- Add in a custom hashtag
Make any event something to remember by promoting a custom hashtag leading up to and during the event. Use the hashtag to track down questions about the event and engage with shoppers during the livestream show. Shoppers can also click on the hashtag leading up to the event to get more details on what’s happening.
- Be punctual
This might sound simple but it’s a common misstep with social livestream selling - if shoppers are joining a call at 7:00 p.m., ensure the livestream feed is not only available, but the show kicks off promptly instead of holding people in a waiting area. Late attendees can catch up.
- Kick off with a bang
This isn’t so much about attracting viewers but keeping them. The first 30-90 seconds are going to give shoppers with short attention spans an idea of whether they want to stick around, so open big. Announce a promotion, bring on a special guest, or get right into the festivities by showcasing your first item.
- Engage shoppers
The whole point of a livestream shopping event is that it’s, well, live. Pre-recorded events just don’t feel the same. To prove an event is happening in real time, greet attendees as they join, look at comments or questions they ask, and act on them in the session.
Instagram Live vs Facebook Live
Everyone knows that Facebook and Instagram are owned by the same parent company, Meta. And there are many areas of overlap and integration between the two platforms, including the ability to host livestreams across both channels.
Important update for 2023: As of spring 2023, parent company has sunset both Facebook Live Shopping and Instagram Live Shopping. While brands can still have Facebook Stores and host livestreams on either platform, the ability to host a live shopping event where customers can transact within the livestream is no longer a feature.
But there are also some key differences between the two that are worth considering when planning a social commerce livestream.
We’ve already covered ways to get more attendees, but there are other ways to get more value from the effort put into a livestream shopping experience. This largely stems from a livestream commerce event being a master piece of content that can be segmented into a number of smaller pieces for different purposes.
Post a follow-up
Immediately after the livestream commerce show is done, be sure to thank attendees for joining and post a link to the livestream for those who want to revisit or view the livestream for themselves. Include a reminder of the call-to-action from the livestream, such as shop a certain collection or check your inboxes for a promo code.
Make the live stream an evergreen piece of content
Facebook Live will save a livestream after its complete, but it’s not exactly easy to find - given the video is attached to a post, which isn’t indexed by search engines. In comparison, Instagram Live won’t save a livestream at all. To make the livestream as accessible as possible, add it to a business YouTube account for easy access on demand and search engine indexability.
Chunk the video into bite-sized morsels
Livestreams tend to be one of the longest forms of content brands will create. And while it’s possible to get a shopper to sit through a 30 or even 60-minute broadcast, it’s much less likely to convert for shoppers who aren’t attending live. The solution is to take that video and edit it down into smaller chunks, no longer than 5 minutes (but ideally, even shorter - think Instagram Reel or TikTok length) and post those as additional pieces of content on all social channels.
Alternatives to Facebook Live
Like so many of Facebook’s features, live streaming video is basically an add-on to the social platform’s ever-expanding suite of tools. The primary advantage of Facebook Live is leveraging an existing following and no upfront platform costs to host a show.
However, there are some clear drawbacks to using Facebook Live, including:
- Facebook Live video content isn’t indexed by search engines, meaning the ability for users to find posts after a livestream is severely limited
- While users could technically search Facebook itself for a post, the search engine / algorithm isn’t the most user friendly to track down what shoppers may be looking for
- 4K video definition isn’t available on Facebook Live
- Live streams are limited to 8 hours, while videos are limited to 240 minutes
- Commerce and monetization features are restricted to the U.S.
- It is impossible to gate access to Facebook Live streams
- Limited analytics information
It’s for these reasons and others that some brands have looked elsewhere for live stream platforms and tools. There are three main options a brand might want to consider for their live streaming needs.
Social Media Livestreaming Tools
First and foremost, there’s the obvious choice of selecting another social media platform to host a livestream. Twitter, LinkedIn, TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram (as detailed above) all support live streaming or live commerce to some degree.
There are also tools that can help one livestream be broadcast out to multiple platforms simultaneously - a great pick for brands with strong followings.
In general though, the best social media livestream platform is going to be the one with the biggest organic audience for a brand. More followers = more viewers, it’s really that simple, regardless of what other tactics (advertising, cross-platform streaming, etc.) are employed. That being said, the capabilities of a platform may also come into play when deciding which one is right for a live stream event, particularly if commerce conversions are top of mind.
One-to-Many Live Streaming Platforms
Brands looking for a more sophisticated set of analytics, options, and interactivity with their viewers may be interested in a paid livestream shopping platform. Although there is an upfront cost, these platforms offer advanced functionality and features that can elevate the livestream shopping experience. Best of all, these platforms can also cross-broadcast livestreams to multiple platforms, including Facebook Live, Instagram Live, and YouTube.
One of the most powerful features of these platforms is in-app commerce, giving customers a shorter journey to go from consideration to conversion. Discover some of these Instagram Live alternatives here.
One-to-One Live Shopping Platforms
Live stream shopping is a great way to create a spectacle around a brand’s collections or drops. But it also has its drawbacks. Most notably, the need for viewers to commit to attending a live event at a certain time that may not work for their schedules. Not only that, but the amount of effort that can go into a livestream may not always result in the output expected, particularly if shoppers don’t have a clear idea of what to expect during a livestream (and therefore drop off or don’t convert).
The alternative is to offer on-demand live video shopping experiences. Instead of broadcasting a show to hundreds or thousands of viewers, one-to-one live video shopping involves letting any shopper hop on a live video call with a brand ambassador when they need it.
Some of the experience is the same between one-to-many and one-to-one live shopping. In both cases, there is a brand representative providing expert advice on what products to choose. Ideally, in both situations there is also the ability to convert during a live shopping experience.
The differences come from the personalized expertise a shopper should expect to get during their session. Instead of learning about an entire skincare range, they can ask questions about what skincare products from a new range are ideal for their skin type. And that’s just one of dozens of use cases.
Where attention spans are increasingly short, live one-to-one shopping is a great alternative or complement to an existing live streaming shopping strategy. Shoppers get the personalized attention they need to find the products they want in short order, driving more conversions and easily trackable ROI.
Add live one-to-one shopping to your live streaming strategy
If live on demand video shopping isn’t part of the existing live streaming game plan, it’s time to consider adding it. Live 1:1 video shopping can be staffed by dedicated live shopping associates, customer service or support staff, or even retail store staff for brands with a brick and mortar presence. Interested in learning more? Get in touch with us for a live demo. We’ll see you there.