Streaming video is projected to grow at 30% a year for the next 5 years. Small businesses have already been taking advantage of this growth by producing live video content.

Live streaming on social media has leveled the playing field for marketers, allowing them to reach huge audiences. This can be a tremendous advantage for small businesses because if done right, your content can cut through the noise of all the other posts and videos online. A local business has resonance with a customer in a way that a big brand cannot quite achieve. They know you – maybe even personally, but at a minimum, by proximity.

So, why should you invest time and effort into live streaming on social media?

First of all, it takes very little time and effort to get started. All you really need is a smartphone or laptop along with a social media account that gives you access to live stream tools such as Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

Before jumping right into a live video, it’s important to be prepared so you can appear confident and professional to your viewers. Know the topics of discussion beforehand, keep a post it note or a small card nearby with key topics so you stay on track. We recommend that you tape this note or card to your tripod holder so you don’t have to look away from the camera to stay on track during live video.

A second reason to invest in live streaming is that it opens up real-time communication with your customers/followers. Let’s say you’re demonstrating a product or showcasing an event on live stream. You have the ability to see comments and questions as they’re being asked, so you can answer them instantly on camera.

We understand it can be tough to both read through questions and supply answers while delivering your live stream content. If this is the case, we recommend collaborating with a partner or colleague during your stream. For example, one of you can read the question while the other answers or both can answer. This relieves the pressure of doing everything by yourself. It allows you and your partner to have a genuine conversation on camera which expresses a more approachable face to your company.

A third reason to integrate live streaming into your marketing plan is to increase promotions and have direct call-to-actions. As a small business owner, it’s imperative that you direct your viewers to take action at the end of your stream. The more specific and immediate, the better. The call-to-action can be anything from a newsletter sign-up to a coupon code that discounts a customer’s purchase.  You can include the code IN the video to encourage viewers to watch!

One important thing to remember is that all these reasons to live stream depend on your ability to engage your audience. We recommend scouting other businesses related to your industry to find out what to do and what not to do. For example, what is the typical length of their live videos? What kind of content do they talk about? What do they do well? How can I do this but better? Use it as research for your own live video plans.

If done properly, live streaming can transform your business to make your company unique in the eyes of your audience. It’s a cost-effective and compelling way to reach a new audience and convert your current audience to customers. Play around with different ideas and keep trying even if your first time is a bit difficult. Remember, practice makes perfect.