Your life, streaming


From same day, in-store pickup, to one-hour drone delivery, technology looks to bring us everything faster. Even our digital interactions and engagements continue to close the gap on giving us easier chances to have real-life, in-person experiences. 

What about engaging digitally with every single second of real life? 

Live streaming isn’t anything new. Since the 1990s, we’ve had major events available for viewing live from the Internet. Today, the role of live streaming continues to grow and influence various business sectors, but not without limitations. So, what is live streaming even? And, what can this form of communication do for marketers? Or is this a novelty tool that has already peaked?

What we talk about when we talk about live streams

Live streaming has become one of those words we overuse and misuse because of it’s zeitgeisty amalgamation of two ideas. 

First idea: streaming services.

Streaming services provide audio/video content to those visiting the site. Youtube, Netflix, Spotify, and any other on-demand media service streams content from an online database directly to you. Streaming is something we’re used to. It’s like television or radio, except over the internet and sometimes you can watch or listen ad free. 

Putting the “live” in live streaming requires a direct feed from studio to screen–like watching a sports game in real time on your phone.

But you probably already knew this.

Second idea: social live streaming and live streaming apps.

A broadcasting company live streaming a game or presidential debate seems routine today. Television has adopted live streaming as a way to survive the rise of the Netflix binge, and Netflix is writing award-winning shows, films, and series in order to unseat basic cable. In the process, we’re losing the distinction between streams and broadcast.

Broadcasting live from anywhere: you.

Now live streaming and high-quality multimedia content creation is in the hands of anyone with a smartphone. Social live streaming apps like Periscope, Meerkat and their pseudo-live streaming cousin Snapchat, have made it possible to share one’s day with the world.

As the world seems ready to bring the social live streams into the main stage, marketers are taking note. It’s also important to note that the start-ups creating these services are hungry for funding. Regardless, deals are being struck and branded content has begun to seep into the social live streaming.

Snapchat, for example, has partnered with news and entertainment companies to bring users the “Discover Page.” Companies post current content users can flip through with a light sprinkling of branded content. 

Brands have also created their own Snapchat accounts that engage users in (ideally) irresistible content available for an exclusive 24 hours. The limited, intimate nature of these marketing experiences plays on our newest frenemy: fear of missing out or FOMO. 

And FOMO can be seen heavily in the use of Periscope, the live streaming app bought up by Twitter. Brands are using this to live stream pretty much anything, from behind the scenes activity at events to people just walking around at conferences. The Chicago Bulls regularly stream their practices and send out tweets broadcasting the stream. You really get the chance to not miss anything with these apps. 

Ultimately, social live streaming is just another expression of our desire to have it all, have it now, and have it be about us. We want an outlet for authentic expression and we want to be heard. For marketers, live streams are not only a way to be heard, but a path to change the way they communicate with consumers by listening to the data of millions of social interactions publicly occurring every day. 


Magnani is an experience design and strategy firm that crafts transformational digital experiences to delight users and deliver sustainable competitive market advantages for our clients.


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