-Sherry Salois/Shane Mercer
Live streaming has become an increasingly popular marketing tool across social media platforms. Techjury reports that 82% of users would rather watch a live video from a brand than read a post; in fact, live streaming saw a growth of 99% in one year (2019-2020). There are a lot of live streaming platforms out there suitable for general to niche marketing, including Twitch, YouTube Live, Instagram Live, and TikTok. When it comes to sports, though, MILLIONS.co is the ideal marketing platform.
While games dominate Amazon’s Twitch, the Twitch Directory includes everything from art to cooking channels to music, and a lot of IRL, too. Content creators share live shows, talk shows or chats, podcasts, music, and sporting events.
Twitch is a busy platform. Sites like TwitchTracker (not a Twitch or Amazon product) provide real-time data that indicates users have collectively spent 545 billion minutes watching Twitch content from 8.2 million “unique creators” so far in 2022. Viewership averages more than 2.5 million over 7 days. Although Twitch boasts a global community of creators and viewers, almost 75% of the viewers are in the 16 to 34 age range. In 2017, Twitch stats indicated just over 81% of users were male, but fast forward to 2019 when Twitch reported 65% of the user base was male and it becomes clear Twitch is reaching a broader audience.
Streamers who qualify by bringing traffic to the site can become Twitch Affiliates or Partners to earn revenue. The Partner program is designed for influencers and comes with high expectations for commitment, content, and quality. Partners make money on Twitch through subscriptions, “Bits” (viewers buy and donate them to “cheer” for Affiliates and Partners), and ad revenue. Twitch’s Creator Camp helps streamers maximize their monetization endeavors.
Brands seeking to market via influencers will need to find and contact streamers, negotiate contracts, and work out details. Brands can sponsor streams, and influencers can feature product giveaways and unboxing events, along with simply mentioning the brand.
Working with an influencer means finding the right streamer on Twitch, which means doing some research. The first step could be as simple as browsing Twitch itself from the home page. A service like Influencer Marketing Hub can help a brand cut through the noise and sites like TwitchTracker can help brands identify active streamers with large communities.
Businesses can also advertise formally on streams with ads included pre-roll, mid-roll, end-roll, and presented via banners.
YouTube itself boasts more than 2 billion users, and YouTube Live claims 15.1 million subscribers. Restream reports that “Channels featuring a weekly live stream get up to 40% more subscribers'' on YouTube. While YouTube is known for excellent live streaming quality, it’s a massive site, and it’s easy to get lost in the crowd of 51 million channels over there (users upload 500 hours of video to YouTube every minute!). YouTube Live is one method for standing out on the site.
To get up and running on YouTube, a streamer needs one thing: a Gmail account for access. Once on the site, streaming is just a matter of enabling the feature in the account settings. Viewing and streaming is free on YouTube. Streaming comes with options, including a mobile device or a desktop and webcam. Using an encoder (software, hardware, or mobile) to convert video to digital format enables features like screen sharing, the use of multiple cameras and microphones, and broadcasting gameplay, plus visual elements like customized overlays, backgrounds, and emotes.
Advertisements are YouTube’s main source of income. The YouTube Partner Program (YPP) not only provides revenue sharing for ads placed on user content, but also provides more opportunities for channel monetization. Among the types of ads that appear on YouTube, anyone who has ever been on the site recognizes TrueView Ads that run before a video, during it, or at the end. These are the ads that allow viewers to skip after a few seconds. Other ads appearing at the beginning or in the middle of a video can’t be skipped. Discovery ads are served up in YouTube search results. Marketers can also pay to place a logo on a stream.
Brands can leverage influencer marketing to increase visibility on YouTube Live. Once again, this requires research to find an influencer who brings value to the brand. Google now owns FameBit, which YouTube is in the process of rebranding and rolling out as YouTube Brand Connect. YouTube Partners can sign up for YouTube Brand Connect (for now, it appears to be in the “invite only” stage) to be matched with brands. Marketers can also search YouTube to find an appropriate influencer.
The Live Shopping feature on YouTube Live allows users to shop directly via a creator-hosted livestream. It’s essentially a revision of existing practices (influencers sharing products) with integration of shopping tools. A “View Products” button allows viewers to quickly access items featured in the stream. Live redirects, coming later in 2022, will allow creators to begin shopping livestreams on their channels and then send the views to the brand’s channel to continue watching. Another feature will enable two creators from different channels to co-stream a live shopping event.
Instagram provides the option to stream live video that remains on the site for 24 hours. A live video can be saved by adding it as a highlight, where it will remain until the creator removes it. Otherwise, users have to be quick to see the live content they want, but a “Live” notice appears under the profile photo to let users know when a user is streaming live, and Instagram alerts a creator’s followers about live streams. It’s easy to stream live on Instagram with just a phone or tablet camera.
In 2021, Statista reported that among viewers in the 18 to 34 age range, use of Instagram Live came behind YouTube by only two percentage points (YouTube Live reigned with 45%; Instagram came in second with 43%).
Instagram is testing features to bring brands and influencers together, such as a preferred brand partners list to help creators locate brands to partner with. Brands searching for creators will find “suggested creators.” Again, there are third parties who can connect brands and creators, too.
Influencers can use Live to host product launches, conduct Q&A sessions and interviews, share events in real time, take followers behind the scenes, create tutorials, and engage followers through comments. Question stickers encourage people to click and type a question, which the creator can then view–and even share the question on screen—and answer. This kind of engagement is a big draw for live streaming.
Live Shopping broadcasts provide for more personal engagement between creator and viewer. If a business has Instagram Checkout enabled, creators can tag products in live streams, and users can buy (or save for later) featured products immediately.
With active users numbering more than a billion, TikTok has become a streaming powerhouse with a global community of creators sharing videos on the site. According to TikTok for Business, “65% of TikTok users enjoy when a Creator posts about a product or brand; 35% discover products or brands from a Creator, and 39% consider products while interacting with Creator videos.” With this level of viewership and interest in brands promoted by creators, TikTok Live has a solid foundation to stand on.
TikTok tends to serve a younger demographic, with 41% of users in the 16 to 24 age bracket and 66% under the age of 30. Brands wanting to reach users in these age ranges will want to give TikTok serious consideration.
TikTok has its own Creator Marketplace to connect brands and creators, while TikTok for Business is a robust site with marketing advice and a Business Learning Center. Once a connection is made between brand and influencer, influencers can use live video to connect with followers in real time, and the video can be saved for 90 days.
Brands and influencers can use TikTok’s LIVE Shopping to “seamlessly integrate products from their TikTok Shopping experience into a LIVE session.” During the live stream, pins related to products in the video will pop up, and users can tap on those pins to add the product to a shopping cart. To facilitate shopping, TikTok has integrated with Shopify, Square, Ecwid, and PrestaShop, with more partnerships in the pipeline.TikTok live includes a Q&A option to enable interaction between creator and audience during the live stream.
Influencers and brands of all types can benefit from the platforms noted above, but there’s another option that is tailored by a specific type of influencer—the athlete. The MILLIONS.co platform provides a place for athletes and brands to come together in a space with a singular focus—sports.
MILLIONS offers three main ways athletes, brands, and fans can intersect: WatchParties, AMAs, and merchandise. While AMAs and merchandise are self-explanatory, the WatchParty is MILLIONS’ answer to live streaming. Think of the WatchParty as a big get together with athletes and fans watching on their own screens while the athlete provides commentary.
Athletes on MILLIONS come from a variety of sports from baseball to wrestling, pro to college. And with the recent NIL (Name, Image, Likeness) ruling from the NCAA that college athletes can now earn money on their names, images, and likenesses, the pool of available athletes just got bigger.
MILLIONS caters to sports fans’ desire to connect with the athletes in the sports they follow. The sports industry is a big market. Statista projects that by 2023, the sports market will reach $83.1 billion. Sponsorship (companies paying to sponsor events, teams, or leagues for brand recognition) is expected to reach $20.65 billion by 2023, while merchandising may well reach more than $15 billion.
MILLIONS offers a one-stop-shop experience for the market. At MILLIONS, brands can advertise by sponsoring events like WatchParties, personal videos, and AMAs. Working with influencers on MILLIONS makes it easier for brands targeting sports fans to find the right influencer.
MILLIONS works with marketers to build and launch advertising campaigns by using follower demographics and helping brands promote themselves through branded promotional posters, AMAs, videos, social media posts by athletes, and live streaming.
All indications are that live streaming as a marketing tool will continue to grow. The format offers engagement that can’t be experienced in other types of advertisement. Think of it as entertainment in marketing. While there are many options for brands to get in on live streaming for brand awareness and even conversions, MILLIONS offers something the others can’t (even Twitch): a clear sports focus and built-in community of athletes and fans.