While some companies have tapped TV personalities and agencies to host their broadcasts, others are asking their employees to do it themselves — even those who have never been in front of a camera before.
Benefit Cosmetics sent its entire U.K. social team on a one-day media training course to ramp up its live content. Previously, video duties had fallen to head makeup artist Lisa Potter Dixon and her team, but the brand wanted the ability to shoot ad-hoc content at a moment’s notice.
“By having those skills, it enables you to be a lot more dynamic and create a lot more content,” said Michelle Stoodley, head of digital marketing. “Obviously not everyone is suitable for all channels, but with the right training and guidance, we’ve found some amazing presenters amongst our employees.”
Media trainers are seeing more interest in brands that want their staffers to shine on screen. Jellyfish, an agency that also offers courses in social media, recently launched a best-practice Facebook course that lets attendees run a Facebook Live broadcast in a “safe environment” (meaning it never actually risks being seen). Other companies like the Pinewood-based academy TV Training are considering offering dedicated coaching sessions on Facebook Live.
As with many brand drives to bring skills in-house, cost is a factor. Paying £499 ($613) for a daylong coaching session isn’t much in comparison to the hefty fees that internet stars — and their agents — can demand per gig. And for brands with small social teams, it can be a chance to try out a new medium before committing for good.
In September, budget airline Monarch created one of the most-viewed branded Facebook Live videos of 2016, fronted by PR exec Joshua Engleman, who has a journalism degree. “We hadn’t done anything like that before,” explained Monarch’s social media and content executive, Naomi Bressan. While Engleman was a person Bressan could trust with the brand’s image, following the success of the video, she said she is now open to working with better-known creators too, “though the process might take slightly longer.”
But there’s also the argument that audiences want to see these “authentic” staffers over paid-for outsiders. Brands are using staff in their marketing more and more, whether that’s via a behind-the-scenes Snapchat or a YouTube video from an in-store team member.
“Audiences want to see real faces more and more and build a connection with the people at a brand, not just the brand itself,” said Benefit’s Stoodley.
Penny Watson, senior social media executive at Birchbox, agrees. “Authenticity is key to success on social media, and our engagement metrics have always proven that using our own staffers to present products they genuinely love (or need) has been engaging,” she said.
Megan Gunn, social media manager at FeelUnique.com, said one of the requirements for her team’s latest hire was that they were comfortable in front of the camera. According to her, the rise of vloggers on platforms like YouTube has inspired companies to take a chance and make content themselves.
“We’re just at the start. Live streaming is a big part of strategy now. Lots of brands are looking for people who can be in front and behind a camera,” she said. “It’s great, as long as content is produced well and adding value to consumer.”
Indeed, Cult LDN’s creative director Abi Ellis, who has a background in broadcasting, said the task shouldn’t be undertaken lightly.
“There’s three times more prep for this than a normal shoot. Just because you’re not paying for media doesn’t mean there isn’t a huge amount of planning involved,” she said. “Not everyone can cope.”