Live streaming in China has become a frequently used marketing tool. The “fan economy” also gives live streaming a conversion rate of 10%-20% on average. A high conversion rate makes live streaming a very effective way to present brands and products. The China Internet Network Information Center reported that China has 325 million live stream users as of June 2016, and iiMedia estimated that number would grow to 460 million by 2018. According to Chinese social media giant Sina Weibo, more than half of users are millennials. Thus, if your target consumers are Chinese young people, live streaming could be a good way to promote your products. Now, how can you market your products through live streaming?
Step 1: Choose your content
In general, live streaming content can be categorized as live games, live shows, social and lifestyle, KOLs and celebrities or e-commerce. It is crucial to figure out first which content you are going to stream because it is a key criterion for choosing a live platform. The most common route for small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) is live e-commerce.
One of the main advantages of live streaming is your complete freedom to choose and customize your content. Here are some examples:
- To reduce information asymmetry
Examples: Explain what materials are used in the products (cosmetics, food& beverages); run tests to show the advantage of your products (automotive); give detailed information on R&D (smartphones and earphones).
- To explain why consumers need your product
Examples: Explain when and where your products would be useful (kitchen appliances, toolkits); demonstrate how products can be used (cosmetics and fashion, decorations)
- To gain a reputation and enhance trust
Examples: show KOLs’ opinion on the products (fashion, cosmetics, food & beverages); show marketplaces to prove the products are popular (global shopping); show experiences (tourism)
Step 2: Decide on which platform you are going to live stream
Large enterprises usually live stream on multiple platforms simultaneously. For example, Durex live streamed a marketing campaign on six different platforms, attracting 5 million viewers in total. In contrast, SMEs usually choose one or two streaming platforms.
The flourishing live streaming industry reached its all-time peak in 2016. Currently, more than 200 live streaming platforms and Apps are available in China. How do we know which ones to choose?
The biggest advantage of e-commerce platforms is transparency. Live streaming audiences are highly aware that the video is promotional, and they don’t resist open marketing strategies. Additionally, e-commerce integrates live streaming and sales. Audiences can place orders and pay for products without leaving the streaming platform. Two e-commerce platforms are recommended: Taobao Live (淘宝直播) and Tmall Live (天猫直播), especially to promote certain products.
What if you do not have a Taobao or Tmall shop? iiMedia’s 2016 list of the Top SevenLive Platforms provides some alternatives:
2016 Top Seven Live Platforms by User Satisfaction
#1: Douyu TV (斗鱼直播)
#2: Quanmin TV (全民直播)
#3: Huajiao (花椒直播)
#4: Inke (映客)
#5: Panda TV (熊猫直播)
#6: YY (YY直播)
#7: Huya (虎牙直播)
These integrated platforms all support multi-type content so that live streaming will be less sales-oriented. You may use your stream to boost your brand’s reputation and name recognition. Take The BEAST (野兽派) as an example. The Beast is an online flower and boutique store that has recently begun to open brick-and-mortar stores. Although The Beast has a Tmall store, they chose to work with the most popular Chinese video editing app Meipai (美拍). The company invited celebrities like the singer Elephant Dee (小S) and the actress-producer Ruby Lin (林心如) to promote the brand. Ruby Lin’s live stream in July 2016 attracted 884 thousand viewers and 11.8 million likes.
Step 3: Pick great hosts
Live streaming is a creative, customizable way to market products. Technically, your hosts can be anyone. You can select hosts according to the content of your stream.
Insiders always know the best details on their own companies. Insiders like engineers and company founders understand the product and their business concepts better, but make sure they are great storytellers, too.
- KOLs and professionals
KOLs and professionals usually have many followers. These fans trust the celebrities’ preferences, so make sure to select KOLs related to your products. Most live stream platforms have their own hosts; you can work with them or find a suitable one by yourself.
Star power can attract a large audience to a live stream. These viewers also have a strong willingness to use the same products and brands as the stars. To work with celebrities, you will need to seek external partnerships and build a teamwork resume with the celebrities’ managers.
Remember, live streaming is only one sector of your marketing map. To launch a solid marketing campaign, you will need to ensure that the whole campaign is complete and consistent. For instance, notify your followers on Weibo and WeChat (if you have a social media account in China), look for partnership opportunities, offer small gifts or discounts for your audience during the live stream, collect feedback afterward and consolidate consumer loyalty. Have fun streaming!
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— Daxue Consulting (@DaxueConsulting) December 26, 2016