Modern consumers rank authenticity above innovation (72%) and product uniqueness (71%) when asked what they value most in a brand.

87% of global consumers felt that it was important for brands to
“act with integrity at all times” - Cohn & Wolfe, 'Authentic Brands' Survey

 

This shift in consumer expectations means we’re in the midst of a quest for brand authenticity, the beginnings of a move to replace traditional marketing ‘aspiration’ with something more real.

But reality is such an elusive concept, especially when it comes to its portrayal in brand comms. Hyper sensitivity to manipulated imagery and messages in an age of fake news means that scepticism is at an all-time high, especially amongst younger audiences.

 The dawn of social media started the brand ‘humanistation’ ball rolling but the road has been full of potholes – attempts to seem like ‘one of the gang’ have often been more of a shonky façade than the real connection it’s striving for. Contrived authenticity is spotted a mile off.

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How then do brands achieve authenticity with a cynical crowd of truth-hungry consumers who will tear you to shreds if they get a whiff of bullshit?

Live and nowhere to hide

Maddie Raedts, founder and chief creative officer at marketing agency IMA, argues that this appetite for more authenticity in brand communications is best answered with ‘more raw…live, in-the-moment, unfiltered content'. 

We’re LONG past reactive social media like the Oreo blackout being the apex of ‘live’, in the moment brand comms.

It’s not about having a reaction to a major cultural event lined up months in advance, or a social media manager with a pot of lit-memes ready to send twitter in meltdown.

It’s about stripping away artifice and letting the real you flap out in front of your consumers.

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Thankfully Facebook, Instagram and YouTube have all dragged live broadcasting firmly back onto the agenda and in doing so, given brands and consumers a channel with which to let it all hang out.

We’ve cycled back round to the chaotic but gloriously real days of TFI Friday and Big Brother, both of which drew millions of viewers at their height thanks to the fresh, uncensored reality they brought to our screens.

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Taking your brand live gives consumers a taste of what you’re really about. At the moment, it’s probably the most easily decoded comms channel as it’s the hardest to spoof (for the time being at least, all eyes on tech like Adobe voco to change that). Going live, and we mean LIVE live not fake live where content is pre-recorded, leaves you open to the elements. Anything can happen and there’s nowhere to hide.

What is the power of live?

Stats on the effectiveness of live broadcasting have been widely reported (especially as facebook have been aggressively trying to sell it over the past few years).

82% prefer live video from a brand to social posts

But beyond it just being a channel that facebook decided they were going to grace with visibility in the feed, it appeals to our hunger as viewers for suspense and voyeurism.

The suspense of Live

The persistent appeal of live sports and music lies in its one-of-a-kind nature. Experiences happen there and then and can’t ever be truly replicated. Watching match of the day is never the same as watching the game. The outcome is no longer in the balance, so the viewing experience isn’t laced with suspense and emotion. The drama’s spent. Live broadcasting delivers the suspense and release that keeps viewers hooked. If you’re in the business of selling location-based entertainment experiences, taking the live experience beyond the ‘venue’ can also be an effective sales driver, with 67% of viewers more likely to buy a ticket to a concert/event after watching a livestream. 

Sneaky peaks

Our relationship with social media is largely a voyerustic one. But while we’re afforded a look behind the scenes at the lives of our friends and families, brands put up more of a barrier. Live can offer viewers a look behind the curtain at your brand and appeal to their voyeuristic curiosity.

Mass engagement

Live is a chance for brands to engage masses directly at once, invite input and respond directly to consumers questions. It can show your willingness to take consumer feedback on board. That you’re generous with your time and authentically personal in your approach.

 

3 things to think about before going live.

 1. Choose the right partners for your brand

If your brand doesn’t have a huge following on social you’ll want to think about partnering with someone who can help you open up a new, targeted audience.
There are loads of publishers on facebook, youtube and Instagram who have made live an effective part of their content output – find one that shares your values and audience and work with them together to create authentic content that will resonate.

2. Be prepared to take the rough with the smooth

 Live broadcasting has given us some of the greatest, most one-of-a-kind cultural moments. But for every kid walking into a live BBC news broadcast there’s the devastation of a streamed suicide. Live is about willing to take the rough with the smooth, the compromise that’s necessary when looking for unfiltered reflections of reality.

Also, many viewers will want your brand to trip itself up and throw banana peels at you relentlessly to try and make it happen. But there’s respect to be gained in putting yourself up to such scrutiny and showing you’re willing to roll with the punches.

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3. Planning for the unplanned

Given the weariness of constructed narrative, live video seems like a no brainer when it comes to dissecting fake news feeds. There’s not deliberate editing, it feels real. While a brand will need to go into any type of live content with some idea of a ‘script’ – a thought out narrative to deliver whatever brand messages you set out to communicate – the unpredictability of live broadcastings means you’re going to show your brands ‘realness’ whether you like it or not, for better or worse.

How we put this into practice for Casumo

Casumo asked us to take a slice of their Super Snowball campaign to a whole new audience of entertainment lovers, primarily men in their 20-30s. We identified Unilad as the perfect partner to help us do exactly that, as their demographic was not only massive but closely resembles Casumo's target audience. 

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Streamed via Facebook Live, we created a real life, gamified version of the campaign creative - a giant snow ball packed with prizes.

Led by our presenter (and audience favourite) Thomas Gray, we tackled the icy sphere with everything from a hot brew to chainsaws to try and release the prizes from its grip. Viewers were invited to guess the right time that each prize would fall out for a chance to level up their 2018 courtesy of Casumo.

By its very nature, our Super Snowball live stream for Casumo presented a myriad of challenges right from the off.  We embraced the unplanned and ‘scripted’ the stream in a way that would allow us to deliver key brand messages and deal with potential problems in a way that stayed true to the honest, odd, irreverent nature of the brand.

Working with Thomas, known for his awkward comedy, we were able to turn potential cockups into comedy, giving the content authenticity and achieving a majority positive sentiment from viewers.

HUGE REACH & ENGAGEMENT IN 1 HOUR =
A MASSIVE NEW AUDIENCE FOR CASUMO

  • In 1 hour we hit 900k reach, 270K  live views and 16k engagements.
  • Total of 643,017 views, 18,403 engagements and reach of 2.5 Million
  • Clear uplift during the 1 hour live stream in page views, users and twice the standard sessions.

 

Thinking of taking your brand LIVE? Give me a shout at simon@pd3.co.uk if you want to chat more about the merits and methods of exposing your brand to the elements!