There’s no denying video and live streaming have solidified their presence as important media to connect with consumers. And during the pandemic, video and live streaming platforms grew exponentially.
Live streaming apps like Twitch and Bigo Live racked up more than 554 billion hours in 2021 alone, found App Annie.
Yet, live streaming services still don’t reach the same levels of engagement as social media. Right now, people spend over half their phone time engaging with social media.
So, the question on companies’ minds is how to retain user engagement on live streaming platforms instead of losing that engagement to social media?
In short, the solution is increased interactivity and finding moments to encourage user engagement and connection during live streams.
Live streaming has uses everywhere.
From fantasy sports to ecommerce, video is everywhere. It’s not just limited to B2C markets, either. Companies like Loom, the video messaging platform for work, was just valued at $1.5 billion at its series C funding, proving video is viable everywhere.
We’re seeing our customers successfully use video and engagement initiatives to do all kinds of things, for example:
- Reddit – The world’s largest online forum and community recently added a short-form video feed, similar to TikTok. This follows their addition of subreddit and 1on1 chat in 2017 to retain their users. Building increasing interactivity within the app has been incredibly successful and has opened the gateway for Reddit to become a media company.
- TMON – One of the leading e-commerce companies in Korea, it was among the early adopters of live commerce. TMON started doing live streaming commerce back in 2017, so it’s a great use case for what interactivity in a live streaming environment can do for e-commerce companies. The live commerce feature has increased their checkout conversions by a whopping 120%. Plus, the live streaming interactivity has increased the chances of selling high-involvement products that require a demonstration, like luxury goods, ODM products and travel. With live stream interactivity, TMON has proven it’s possible to compete against traditional home shopping TV shows.
But it’s not just these brands that can benefit.
5 benefits of adding an interactive element to video
There are many benefits to adding an interactive layer to your video content.
- Increased engagement: This is really what it’s all about. Engaged users are loyal users. We’ve seen a 5X increase in engagement when users add interactive elements to their live streaming and video content.
- Social validation: In an online shopping environment, using engagement is a terrific way to incorporate social validation. Unlike millennials, Gen Z is more likely to give credit to social validation from their peer group than from some form of celebrity. So, when you can create a peer group of sorts within your app, you’re providing the sort of social validation for purchase that’s so important to younger generations.
- Increased retention: Adding an option to engage leads to lengthier sessions time and time again. The longer viewers are retained, the more information you can gather and the more loyal the user becomes to your brand.
- The “creator economy”: With an interactive community, the users and interactivity itself is quickly becoming a new media format. For example, the conversations sparked during live-streamed concerts are in and of themselves user-generated content. In that way, companies no longer have to generate their own content, but users can also create the content. This also provides avenues for monetization (more on that in a minute).
- Holistic data: With interactivity, you can capture so much more user data and information about your customers. Even something as simple as a like and dislike button on your videos gives you valuable information about your users and helps you better serve your customers.
While these benefits are great, the real question for companies who aren’t in the ecommerce space is: how can I monetize this increased interactivity?
How companies are monetizing video interactivity
There are several simple ways to monetize interactivity to make it a worthwhile investment for your company.
- Special status indicator: There are inevitably attendees who want extra attention during a live stream. Maybe they want to make sure their question gets answered or that their favorite celebrity says “Hello” to them. Whatever the case, companies have been able to monetize interactivity by selling special badges, highlighted questions or special status options for these attendees.
- Gifts: Another option is allowing people to send gifts to the video maker. For instance, people can purchase special emoticons to give to the video creator during the video to show their appreciation and get highlighted attention.
- User data: Rather than paying for data and market research, you’re able to cut the middleman out and harvest tons of user data via these interactions. While this isn’t necessarily monetization outright, it’s a way to save a considerable amount of money on market research.
- Creator economy: Again, the creator economy allows you to monetize creator content. For one, you’re getting content for free, but also, the creators themselves provide avenues for monetization.
Finding monetization comes down to figuring out what makes sense for your industry — but monetization is taking unexpected forms in all kinds of industries. For instance, you wouldn’t expect interactivity or video content to be associated with fintech, but that’s what we’re seeing with some of our customers.
One of our customers is a cryptocurrency app. They’ve found that the rise and fall of the crypto market plays really well with forum interactivity and becomes the central content for discussion.
Interestingly, when a user makes a successful trade with a currency and communicates about it via messaging with their friends, there’s a considerable increase in purchases of that currency. So, in a roundabout way, this interactivity based around the live-action of charts is driving growth for the app.
How to incorporate interactivity into the experience without disrupting it (and other tips for incorporating interactivity in your app)
The biggest way to incorporate interactivity into your existing application is to embed a chat stream that has a similar look and feel to your app.
It’s also really important to segment your audiences appropriately because if audiences feel like they’re in the wrong peer group, they’re going to be disengaged — the opposite of what you want.
That’s where live content comes in. It’s a way for your users to naturally get sorted into the correct segments.
Here are some other important tips for getting started:
- Create moderation guidelines and share them with the community. This keeps your community safe and ensures that your application promotes the type of conversations your target demographic wants to have.
- Empower your most valuable audiences to lead the community. Reward your most loyal users by giving them moderator privileges. This builds their loyalty even more and helps keep your community safe.
- Include other interactive offerings. Apart from using chat to keep engagement high, incorporate other offerings like quizzes and polls to encourage engagement with minimal effort.
The future is using interactivity to drive user engagement
Interactivity via video streaming is crossing platforms and genres quickly. For example, Coupang Play is available on all platforms, including iOS, Android, Web OS and smart TV. Even Netflix, the streaming giant, is looking to build gaming to cash in on the interactivity element.
While live stream interactivity may not be as engaging as social media right now, it’s quickly becoming the next frontier for capturing consumer interest and building loyal users.
Sendbird is the leading consumer engagement API platform providing in-app messaging, voice, and video solutions through forms of APIs and SDK, and our chat user counts have doubled over the past twelve months.
We support 250 million+ chat users of leading global brands like Paytm, Reddit, Ola, Dream11, Coupang, PUBG, Carousell and more.
If you’re ready to add interactivity to your live streaming and videos, we can help.