5 Ways to Start Using Interactive Broadcasting for Your Business

Just a few years ago, Twitter’s Periscope interactive broadcasting service sounded like an interesting idea with possible business applications. But that was a few years ago. Now we know it can help businesses.

Prompted by Facebook Live and other services–and a huge set of use cases furnished by Asia, where live chat broadcasting has become a $5 billion business in China alone—companies have woken up to the potential of interactive broadcasting over the internet.

Interactive broadcasting, where individuals and companies use their smartphone to host public video sessions that anyone can join, has become a major new communications medium that isn’t going away.

Using Interactive Broadcasting for Your Business

Here’s how your business can take advantage of it.

Offer Live Product Training

Adoption is one of the biggest challenges for software-as-a-service businesses, where sign-up is easy but getting customers to try the product and learn its features is much harder. One good use for interactive broadcasting is offering live training sessions for users and potential users for an easier adoption path.

Right now, businesses use a combination of forums, text-based instructions and boring YouTube videos to educate customers. But there is a better way: Interactive broadcasting. Having live product training goes far beyond videos because it allows customers to ask questions and engage with the training, which boosts engagement and learning.

“Nobody would argue that having someone there to walk you through a how-to is far superior to a pre-programmed video,” notes Tony Zhao, founder of interactive broadcasting firm, Agora.io, which gives businesses a turnkey interactive broadcasting solution as a web service. “Interactive broadcasting brings back the human element that got lost when we moved away from a brick-and-mortar business model.”

Build Thought Leadership with Live Events

Standing out is getting harder for businesses; there’s lots of options online, and lots of marketing ninjutsu. A second way you can use interactive broadcasting is by creating live “events” that create urgency and help your business stand out.

This can take two forms.

First, you can use interactive broadcasting to help customers and prospects attend events that they might otherwise miss, whether a conference or noteworthy public event. For instance, if you are a fitness app developer you might broadcast the release of the latest Apple Watch and then let users ask questions and explore the watch on the day it is released.

Second, you can create your own events. If you are an organic food manufacturer, you might have a release party of a new product line and set up an Iron Chef competition where contestants compete to make something interesting with the new product. This can be broadcast live, and you could even let viewers influence the competition or ask questions of the contestants.

Draw Attention to Promotions

Having a sale is good. But if your customers don’t know about the sale, or if it doesn’t register as something really worthwhile, you might not be getting the most from your efforts.

Interactive broadcasting can come to the rescue, bringing more prominence to the sale or promotion and driving added interest. A weekly special, for instance, could tie into a live product demonstration that customers can watch online, much like the Home Shopping Network has done for decades.

By broadcasting around the sale or promotion, you turn the promotion into an “event.” Further, by using interactive broadcasting you give potential buyers a chance to look more deeply at the product and ask questions before they make the buy. And by showing that others are interested in the product, too, via the interactive part of the broadcast, you drive demand and show value.

Give Behind-the-Scenes Access

Everyone loves special access. Customers also like authenticity, an important quality at a time when marketing has arguably gotten too slick. A fourth way you can take advantage of interactive broadcasting is by hosting special “behind the scenes” live broadcasts.

Brand loyalty comes to those businesses that show a human side. Interactive broadcasting lets you give backstage access to actual employees, the shop floor where you make your product or service, and the raw materials that go into creating your wares. By showing off how things are actually made and by whom, you help customers build a sense of place and connection with your company. You also can spark a deeper interest in how the product is made.

Avenue Beads in Chicago is but one example. They have used interactive broadcasting to take customers behind the scenes to see how their glass jewelry and artwork is created. Viewers get to see the process, which brings product value, and also viewers can ask questions and interact with the employees who make the artwork.

Create Content Easily with Exclusive Interviews

Every business is in the media business now; content marketing helps firms stand out and tell their story. But there’s only one problem: Creating content can be hard and time-consuming.

Enter interactive broadcasting.

Many businesses have found that they can generate meaningful, consistent content easily and at low cost by offering real-time video interviews with staff or industry experts, and letting viewers interact with these experts. Content is created through the announcement that the event will be happening, as a result of the broadcast itself, and then after the event in the form of using the questions and content created during the interviews.

Beyond just content creation, interactive broadcasting as a content marketing tool also helps because it drives engagement: viewers get to interact with the broadcast, and it also creates a sense of community if part of a regular series of live broadcasts.

“People want to be involved, to create and to be a part of something interactive,” says Lee Odden at marketing and communications site, Ragan.com. “That presents an opportunity for brands to originate and co-create video content with their communities.”

There are many ways to use interactive broadcasting; these are just a few. The overall point is that businesses are using this new technology today, and to great effect. Your business can use it, too.

Video Recording Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "5 Ways to Use Interactive Broadcasting for Your Business" was first published on Small Business Trends

Financing for 2017 Hurricane Season Business Recovery

Businesses in several states and territories are struggling to recover after recent hurricanes. Harvey, Irma, Jose and Nate all had an impact on residents and businesses in the U.S. And for small businesses especially, recovery can be a lengthy process.

But the early stages of recovery can be critical for small businesses. If you wait too long to secure financing and get your business back up and running, it could be too late. In fact, 40% of small businesses never recover after a disaster.

Vernon Tirey, founder and CEO of LeaseQ, an online marketplace for business equipment financing, said in a phone interview with Small Business Trends, “The most important thing for any business is their customers. And the longer you delay serving your customers, the more risk there is that your customers will go get that service someplace else. So it’s very important to get back to operating as usual as quickly as possible.”

Sources of Financing for 2017 Hurricane Season Business Recovery

So if your business was impacted by one of the recent storms, you could very well be looking for financing options to get your business back up and running. Here are some options for you to consider, broken down by state.

Texas

Small businesses were impacted by Hurricane Harvey in Texas on August 25 through September 3. and many still are struggling to keep their doors open to customers. Here are funding resources for small businesses recovering from Hurricane Harvey in Texas.

SBA Disaster Loan Assistance
Businesses in certain counties in Texas may be eligible for up to $2 million in loans to aid with disaster recovery efforts. Additionally, the Small Business Development Centers, Women’s Business Centers, Veterans Business Outreach Centers and SCORE offices are available to help businesses with financial counseling and other services.

FEMA Disaster Assistance
FEMA offers a wide range of disaster assistance options for residents in Texas. This isn’t specifically a business related offering. But if you have a home office, the program could help you repair any space or equipment that you use for your business.

Houston Recovers
Houston Recovers offers resources for businesses and individuals trying to recover from Harvey and other disasters. This includes a list of banks in the area offering low interest loans to businesses.

Houston Business Development, Inc.
Houston Business Development, Inc. offers several different types of business loans ranging from $5,000 to $5 million. You can use these loans for equipment, real estate or working capital.

Louisiana

Certain counties in Louisiana were also impacted by Harvey, and then again by Nate in early October. Here are some resources for those businesses affected.

SBA Disaster Loan Assistance
The SBA also has loan assistance available to businesses in the counties affected by Harvey. You can receive up to $2 million to help with the costs associated with recovering and rebuilding.

Louisiana Economic Development Small Business Loan and Guarantee Program
Qualified businesses may receive between $5,000 and $1.5 million in guaranteed loans and financial assistance. Businesses must create or retain at least one job, depending on the amount of the loan.

Mississippi

Parts of Mississippi were adversely affected when Hurricane Nate made landfall in early October. Here are some resources for businesses in those areas.

SBA Disaster Loan Assistance
The SBA also has loan assistance available to businesses in the counties affected by Nate. You can receive up to $2 million to help with the costs associated with recovering and rebuilding.

Small Business Capital Fund of MS
The Small Business Capital Fund of MS provides non-traditional financing options for small businesses. Small businesses can apply for loans for equipment, location rehab or working capital.

Alabama

Hurricane Nate also made an impact on some counties in Alabama. Here are resources for those businesses.

SBA Disaster Loan Assistance
The SBA also has loan assistance available to businesses in the counties affected by Nate. You can receive up to $2 million to help with the costs associated with recovering and rebuilding.

LiftFund Alabama
LiftFund is a non-profit organization in Birmingham that helps businesses access loans, microloans and training. Small businesses can access loans of up to $1 million through this program.

Florida

Hurricane Irma made a huge impact in many parts of Florida from August 30 to September 16. For businesses in the state looking for financing options, check out the list below.

SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans
FEMA and the SBA recommend that businesses and homeowners in disaster areas in Florida apply for loans through the SBA. Businesses may be eligible for up to $2 million to repair or replace disaster-damaged real estate or other assets.

FEMA Disaster Assistance
FEMA offers a wide range of disaster assistance options for residents in Florida. This isn’t specifically a business related offering. But if you have a home office, the program could help you repair any space or equipment that you might use for your business.

Enterprise Florida Small Business Loan Support Program
Enterprise Florida offers credit and microfinancing options to small businesses needing help with startup costs, equipment, inventory, real estate or working capital. Amounts and rates vary depending on the type of financing your business requires.

LiftFund Florida
LiftFund Florida is a non-profit organization that helps small businesses access capital through business loans up to $1 million, microloans and business training.

Puerto Rico

Hurricanes Irma and Maria made a huge impact on the island of Puerto Rico. With many still struggling to rebuild, here are some resources for businesses.

SBA Disaster Loan Assistance
The SBA also has loan assistance available to businesses in the counties affected by Harvey. You can receive up to $2 million to help with the costs associated with recovering and rebuilding. You can learn more from the San Juan district office.

FEMA Disaster Recovery Assistance
FEMA is offering disaster recovery assistance for individuals and families in Puerto Rico to help with things like debris removal and repairs to bring locations up to safety standards.

Government Development Bank for Puerto Rico
The Government Development Bank for Puerto Rico offers loans and financing options for small and medium sized businesses that qualify. You can apply online or by phone, though amounts and rates vary.

U.S. Virgin Islands

The U.S. Virgin Islands also suffered due to the effects of Hurricanes Irma and Maria in September. Here are resources for those businesses.

SBA Disaster Loan Assistance
The SBA also has loan assistance available to businesses in the counties affected by Harvey. You can receive up to $2 million to help with the costs associated with recovering and rebuilding. You can learn more from the San Juan district office, which also features a location on St. Thomas and St. Croix.

Virgin Islands Small Business Development Center
The Virgin Islands Small Business Development Center also offers resources for small businesses in the area, including advising and support to help small businesses find other funding sources.

Disaster Assistance Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "Where Small Businesses Affected by the 2017 Hurricane Season Can Turn for Funding" was first published on Small Business Trends

According to a new report, the findings to which MMW was privy on Thursday, video is becoming marketers’ tool of choice.

In fact, U.S. companies are investing $135 billion this year in online video to market products and services.

The research, from Magisto, hailed as being the world’s most popular smart video storytelling application, is part of a new report released today entitled “Video’s Payday: Part 1: The Modern Marketing Dilemma and the State of Business Video.”

We’re told that the report is the first release in a three-part series and examines the rapid rise of online video, resulting, according to the report, from new rules of marketing engagement that have tilted markedly in favor of authenticity.

The research examined the digital video spend among U.S. businesses and found that over the next year, American businesses will spend an estimated $135 billion on digital video. The figure takes into account the entire video ecosystem, including production, tools, people and media, painting a contrasting picture compared to existing predictions for the market. As a point of reference, advertisers this year expect to spend $83 billion on digital ads and $71 billion on TV commercials. This new research points to the digital video spend nearly equaling the combined spend of digital and TV advertising in the U.S.

“The traditional, linear mode of communication, dominated by advertising and controlled by legacy marketing, simply doesn’t work today. It is more white noise at a time when signal is the scarcity,” said Oren Boiman, CEO of Magisto. “The enormous influence of social media and the bottom up culture of millennials have led to a new marketing condition where the consumer is in control, word-of-mouth is a medium unto itself, and authenticity is paramount to engaging customers.”

To review the complete report, click here.

The post Report: Companies Making $135B Bet on Online Video Marketing appeared first on Mobile Marketing Watch.

MMW connected this week with the team at VertaMedia, an award winning global video technology solution provider.

The company has just announced the launch of a Holistic Demand Management Platform for publishers.

Fueled by increased publisher adoption of the VertaMedia’s video ad technology platform, the company has developed a unique solution to fulfill direct publisher needs in a unified, holistic sell side technology solution.

Recognizing the advertiser community’s recent calls for a more transparent and direct supply chain, VertaMedia brings a new thinking and product design to the market that returns control and significant lost revenues to media companies which have seen growth in programmatic demand via a highly intermediated marketplace model that has leveraged many resellers to create demand. This announcement comes after months of development in partnership with top-tier demand and supply partners.

So how does the offering work?

The platform provides media owners with a suite of solutions for conducting programmatic direct deals via client and server side points of access, connecting platform buyers with omni-channel media sources without a need to involve business mediators into the workflow.

“The innovation we are bringing to the market establishes a new standard for the sell side technology workflow. It is time for publishers to take back the control of their monetization process and realize the benefits of developing technology independence via direct buyer and seller integrations. These innovations are the inevitable outcome of a marketplace that has undergone a significant transformation in the last decade,” says Chris Karl, VertaMedia’s CEO.

The post VertaMedia Launches Holistic Demand Management Platform for Publishers appeared first on Mobile Marketing Watch.

Twitter Marketing: Here are the Essential Twitter Checklists for Promoting Your Small Business
The social media users are increasing every single day. The latest statistics showed that there were 2.46 billion social media users all over the world in 2017. And, this number is expected to rise above 3 billion in 2021. These statistics show how much potential social media marketing have.

Furthermore, the people usually spend a lot of time on various popular social media platforms, and one of the popular social media platforms with millions of active users is the Twitter. No doubt, the Facebook is the leading social media platform now; however, it does not mean that other social media platforms can be ignored.

Each and every social media platform has its own specialty. The Twitter provides limited no. of words in a tweet, and many celebrities and businesses love to use the Twitter to promote themselves. According to one study, around 72% of the people are likely to purchase the product from the brand they follow on the Twitter.

Like every other social media platform, it’s necessary for a marketer to be aware of the checklists before he/she starts promoting the business on the Twitter. In the next section of this article, we will reveal the essential checklists for the Twitter marketing.

Twitter Marketing Essentials

It does not matter whether you’re a small business or a big corporation, everyone can take an advantage of this wonderful platform, named Twitter. The essential checklists listed in this section of this article will raise the standard of your Twitter campaign. Here are some of the important Twitter checklists that one must follow for a better result.

Twitter Profile

When someone finds some tweets really inspirational or impressive, they immediately check out the Twitter profile of the one who posted the tweet. An awesome profile helps the brand to make an impressive first impression among its potential customers. The profile must be optimized in such a way that it would clearly reflect your brand.

The profile must not only be eye-catching, but it should also be easy for the people to discover the page and the attractiveness of the profile must be able to make people fall in love with the brand. Here are some of the important things to consider while constructing a profile.

Don’t Forget Your Twitter Bio

The Twitter bio consists of just 160 words, which means that the brand has only 160 words to clearly reflect what the brand is all about in a simple manner. It must be short and snappy to have a maximum impact on the reader. The Twitter bio must include all the necessary information related to your business along with the relevant industry keywords.

An effective Twitter bio can help in enhancing the visibility of the profile, and the people who read the bio can get the clear idea about what the business is all about.

Make Use of Visual Aspects of the Profile

The Twitter has increased the emphasis on the visual aspects of the profile. There are Twitter profiles where the profile owners just use the default egg avatar. However, this won’t do any good for enhancing the effectiveness of the profile. Instead of a default egg avatar, upload a photo or a brand logo.

The cover image on the profile needs to be 1500X1500 pixels and avatar image should be around 500X500 pixels.

Don’t Leave Out the Important Details

The important details, such as location, website URL product link must be mentioned in the allocated spots. There are many people who discover brands via social media platforms, and these important links can make it easier for the brands to increase the reach of their website.

The brands who mention their location, website URL, and other important information will not only help them to get valuable traffic, but it will also increase the accountability and trustworthiness of the brand.

Tweeting Effectively

Before you start to tweet with your profile, it is important to think about the tone and the ways you want to portray your brand in front of your potential customers and existing customers.

Find the Brand Personality and Tune it Up

Do not hesitate to be open with your brand personality. An appealing brand personality can give you a competitive advantage over 100s of Twitter profiles that are competing in the same niche. Find what works the best for the brand. The communication style and business’ key message must be carefully developed.

Do Not Hesitate to Chat Regularly

The Twitter chat is a great way to extend the reach of the brand. This function can be useful for every business, regardless of their industry and niche. It can help the brand to connect to the influential personalities and allow the brand to portray itself as an expert in front of their potential customers.

Consider Intelligent Hashtags

An intelligent use of trending hashtags can significantly increase the reach and engagement on the post. According to one HubSpot study, the post that uses hashtags is 33 percent more likely to be retweeted in comparison to those posts without hashtags.

Maintain Regular Tweets

Just building an attractive profile and one impressive tweet won’t be able to increase your followers on Twitter. To build engaging followers, the profile must be active and one must tweet valuable insights on a regular basis. Follow other Twitter users and actively participate in conversations. It will help in reaching out to the larger audience in a long-run.

Two-way Communications

The people love the brands who give them attention and replies to their comments. Be a brand that the people would love by maintaining two-way communications, instead of being a brand that only posts about their own products.

It’s important to reply to the mentions and opinions on the Twitter platform to develop a deeper bond with the followers. The tools, such as HootSuite can help in monitoring the brand mentions along with other relevant keywords that are associated with the business.

Understand the Audience

The brands that can understand its audiences are the ones that grow. There are various tools that can help in getting valuable insights and analytical information to better understand the audiences.

At first, you need to list out the key characteristics of the potential customers for the company. After listing out the key characteristics of the potential customers, use the analytical tools to find out what the potential customers with the key characteristics are tweeting about to know them better.

These insights will help in developing an effective content marketing strategy, which will not only be for the Twitter marketing, but also for other platforms. The right kind of offers and posts can be promoted to the Twitter users after understanding the audiences in a better way.

The Twitter is a worldwide database for the brand. Along with the potential customers, it’s equally beneficial for the brands to make the list of influential users for the brands to follow. It will help in enhancing the reach. Engage with them on a regular basis to develop a good relationship with them.

Don’t Just Promote the Products

The people who are following you are authentic and real human beings, and they are not robots. They enjoy various types of posts and they do not visit the social media platform just to search for the products.

There are wide ranges of topics that can engage the followers, which will help in building a better relationship with its followers. Make use of the images and hashtags to increase the reach of the tweets. The HubSpot study mentioned above shows that the tweets with images are 34 percent more likely to be retweeted by the Twitter users in comparison to those without images.

Integrate Twitter with Your Overall Marketing Plan

The Twitter marketing must not be taken as an individual marketing strategy, but it should be integrated with an overall marketing strategy of the company. Integrate the Twitter profile with the website, appropriate images, keywords, and message points.

Think about how the Twitter marketing campaign can work in parallel with other marketing campaigns on various other platforms. The communication strategy of the brand and objectives of the brand should dictate the Twitter marketing campaign. When the Twitter marketing is integrated with other marketing campaigns, it will lead to a better return on investment.

Conclusion

After being aware of the essential checklists, you are ready to promote your business via the Twitter platform. Make sure you provide the value via your Twitter profile to win new customers and also to maintain your existing customers. According to a study from Lithium, around 78% of the Twitter users expect a reply to their complaints within an hour from the company.

And, do keep on learning new techniques and methods to promote the business on the Twitter along with other popular social media platforms to get the maximum return on investment.

Twitter Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "Cracking the Twitter Checklist: Tips for Promoting Your Small Business" was first published on Small Business Trends