Unpacking the Three Key Drivers of Live Content: FOMO, Technology and Community



“One of the most effective forms of marketing is experience.” — Oliver Yonchev, Managing Director, Social Chain


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Live video has surpassed the novelty phase and is now more than ever shaping how brands interact with their audiences. By tapping into Live, they can engage views in instantaneous, immersive, and authentic ways that other formats simply cannot, especially during an age of social distancing. And marketers are taking note of the trend and scaling in a variety of different ways to get a piece of the action via tools like Instagram Live, LinkedIn Live, Facebook Live, and newcomers including TikTok and Twitch.

During #SMWONE, Social Chain’s Oliver Yonchev explored the evolution of live-streaming and why it should be core to every brand’s approach. “Art may seem dramatic but I believe there are many nuances and many important principles to going live and a lot of things brands should consider,” he shared in his opening remarks.

Here are the primary insights and takeaways:

  • FOMO is powerful and can be used in any Live activation
  • Going ‘Live’ and being ‘Live’ are not the same thing
  • Anticipation is the bedfellow of fear

The key drivers of live viewing

“We are a generation of “now” where everything is ‘on-demand’, stated Yonchev. In this world, choice is underpinned by the desire to have the ability to pre-program our lives exactly how we want them and we want algorithms to serve us these things in alignment with how we want them. Enter the meteoric rise of juggernauts such as Netflix, Disney Plus, Apple, and Amazon Prime.

This is supported by stats showing that amongst the top five categories of content typically live-streamed are TV series or episodic content (45%), sports (31%), tutorials or how-to videos (30%), gaming (29%), and videos from friends and family (28%). With this, three core principles naturally evolve when taking a deeper look at these trends regarding what drives live viewing:

  • Fear of missing out (“FOMO”)
  • Technology
  • Community

“Fear, like all emotions, generally drives action. It goes back to the basics of neuroscience,” Yonchev reiterated breaking down the fundamental parts of the brain: the limbic system, the primitive brain, and the neocortex. To reiterate how fear can drive strange or atypical behaviors, he pointed to the story of how Social Chain devised a fake soccer play, Rex Secco, in an effort to make a point around how the agency could make anything the most talked about topic online in a short amount of time. The result? Over 120 million impressions including people falsely claiming they had heard of Secco before.

Regarding the use of technology and all of its variants and fostering community, Yonchev underscored that people simply don’t watch live on social media in the same way they do on traditional Live formats. Further, people have and will continue to be driven by scarcity. “In a time where we are connected like no other time in history, feeling ‘connected’ is at an all time low.”

The big takeaways: Fear of missing out is as powerful as ever and a sentiment you can apply in any Live activation. When approaching Live as a brand, change your story when the room changes and, most importantly, put humanity at the center of your engagement plans.

Formatting rules

With the principles of going Live spelled out, Yonchev then dove into the formats marketers should emphasize as they build their approaches. Going back to an earlier point he stressed, we live in an on-demand culture, so a Live format needs to acknowledge this by allowing people to leave and rejoin a Live and still know what is going on. In a word, this can be achieved with simplicity. Not underestimating the power of anticipation is also critical to success. Ultimately, the fear in FOMO can translate into anticipation which, ultimately, can boost retention. In short, fear is not always negative despite the connotation often attached to the phrase. Finally, leverage the power of virality by creating content that begs for participation whether this is through sharing, commenting, liking or otherwise.

Effective mechanics

Combined with the drivers of Live audiences and formatting best practices, there are several effective mechanics to bear in mind as you craft your Live strategy. These are grounded by three themes of interactivity, anticipation, which Yonchev described as “the bedfellow of fear,” and experience.

Quizzes and games are particularly helpful when trying to showcase products in a way that does not just bombard audiences with details but invites them to participate and learn more about the brand and make more informed decisions. Social Chain partnered with Boohoo for a live quiz show where a new question would be produced every minute for the total of an hour with winners being selected at random. From the viral loop caused by the incoming comments to the anticipation of the next winner announcement, this was a perfect storm for a successful live and the results supported this: Social Chain reached 4.6 billion people and drew 791k total engagements.

“One of the most effective forms of marketing is experience,” said Yonchev. However, experience can be costly and hard to scale but live streaming allows us to overcome these barriers. In another example, Social Chain partnered with Superdry in a digital treasure hunt where when people commented “Treat” and once a certain volume was reached, more clues would be revealed. “What this really did for the brand was take an experiential activity and bring it a whole host of people who couldn’t be there to experience and introduce to them into that part and relationship.” Social Chain has taken this to other levels from controlling live events through the music and pyrotechnics to using World Puppy day to create a “Puppy Catwalk” and launching live-stream shopping for Facebook videos.

“Download Twitch. Go live on LinkedIn. Play on Houseparty,” Yonchev urged as the session concluded.

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