I've been talking up live video for some time now. Whether it's broadcast through Snapchat, Periscope or through Facebook Live, a live video has become the most engaging way for brands to inform, entertain and build a connection. It's no wonder that live video has been the talk of this year's Internet marketing conferences.
But it's taken a stay-at-home mom from Texas to show the world just how powerful live video can be.
Candace Payne decided to treat herself to an electronic Chewbacca mask at Kohls. She then filmed herself putting on the mask in her car... and laughing hysterically at the sound the mask made.
The video couldn't be simpler. Her joy at the product couldn't be more natural. So far, the video has picked up more than 136 million views.
That's right... 136 million views of someone using a product and loving it. How much would traditional advertising have cost to reach an audience that size with a message that wouldn't have come close to the power of that video?
Kohls and its social media agency were onto it in a flash. They sent Payne a boatload of toys, $2,500-worth of gift cards and 6,000 reward points... and they filmed the delivery. That video, too, has picked up over 30 million views. Not surprisingly, Kohls has struggled to keep those masks on their shelves.
The success of that Facebook Live video has lessons for all of us. Business owners have always wracked their brains trying to figure out which messages would most resonate with audiences, and looking for creative ways to deliver those stories. Coca Cola spent $3.5 billion in 2014 on advertising to get its messages out there. That's old school.
The fastest way to build trust with an audience is now also the most natural. It's customers showing their friends and family how much they love the products they've bought. It's brands talking directly to their buyers and broadcasting the exchanges live. It's not about messaging any more; it's about the relationship, and showing audiences that the connection between the customer and the product is real and valued and constant.
When Candace Payne pulled on that mask and broke down in hysterics at the sight of herself as Chewbacca, when she said that this was the best birthday present she'd ever bought herself, and when she said that the mask was all hers and she wasn't going to let her kids "confinscate" it from her, she spoke directly to anyone who had ever bought themselves a treat that was utterly silly and yet wonderfully fun.
When Kohls showed up with a box of gifts and kept the story rolling, they showed they understood how important live video had become.
Every business now needs to be in the business of live video, broadcasting it themselves and encouraging their customers to broadcast it too. They need to be watching live video and they need to be reacting it to it.
Live video isn't just the talk of marketing conferences. It's also what gets customers talking.