The writer has a master's degree in economics. She enjoys researching and writing about economic and business issues.
Although only emerged recently, social media marketing has proved to be a promising new platform for marketers. Social media allows companies to capture a two-way communication with its audience, paying for their advertisements and earning publicity through word-of-mouth at the same time as many users have taken to the habits of resharing information and voicing their opinions on their personal social media sites (Burcher 2012). With the wide availability of mobile devices and the appeal of social network sites, the number of users on most social media platforms has exploded over the past decades, reaching billions of users (Facebook: 2.6 billion active users; YouTube: 2 billion; WeChat: 1.2 billion; Instagram: 1.1 billion, etc.). Depending on the chosen platform, companies can offer different types of content for their audience, including text-based, video-based, and image-based content, capturing the advantages of each type of media, and improving the outcomes of their marketing campaign.
With the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, the popularity of social media marketing has been taken to a new level. As people are restricted at home due to mandatory lockdown and travel restriction, they turn to social media sites for entertainment, social connection, news updates and online shopping (Ali Taha et al. 2021). As a result, for businesses, social media opens many new opportunities for them to overcome the detrimental economic impacts of the pandemic and approach customers more effectively in the new normal (Mason et al. 2021). Interestingly, on this new marketing channel, new and innovative trends have also arisen, giving marketers more grounds to express their creativity and captivate the audience’s attention. Specifically, livestreaming has become the next big thing on social media to attract and engage customers. Livestreaming refers to the type of streaming broadcast over the Internet, allowing the audience to watch the event in real time. Facebook and YouTube were among the first social media platforms to incorporate livestreaming feature which can be used easily and seamlessly at the users’ fingertips. Livestreaming technology has even created a new type of retailing known as livestreaming commerce, a subset of ecommerce utilising real-time interactions through online channels. Platforms for livestreaming ecommerce can be ecommerce websites integrated with livestreaming features or social networking sites integrated with livestreaming features (Cai & Wohn 2019).
Adidas, a German brand, and Nike, an American brand, are the world leading companies in producing and selling luxurious sportswear products. In addition to their size and influence in the world market, the two companies are also well-known for their creative and unique marketing campaigns. Nike and Adidas have long adopted social media marketing as part of their integrated marketing strategy, and they have stablished strong presence across various platforms. For instance, Nike has created its company channels on all major social media sites including Facebook (34 million fans), Instagram (133 million followers), LinkedIn (4.3 million followers), Twitter (8.3 million followers), and YouTube (1.6 million subscribers). Similarly, Adidas is also very popular on social media with its presence on Facebook (38 million fans), Instagram (25.9 million followers), YouTube (917 thousands subscribers), and Twitter (3.8 million followers). The two companies are also quick to adopt the newest trends in the marketing world, including livestreaming and utilise livestreaming to their advantages.
How Adidas and Nike Utilised Livestreaming to Their Advantages
Strategies for Livestreaming
To ensure the success of the livestreaming event, there are several strategies that the businesses should consider. First, before conducting the livestreaming, it is important for the marketers to define the goals of their livestreaming event. Some typical objectives of livestreaming include generating sales, enhancing interactions and engagement with customers, increasing viewership/ followers, or generally promoting brand awareness. Based on the goals of the livestreaming event, the content and even some rough scripts of the event can be created to maximise the outcome. Nonetheless, a livestreaming event should be kept as natural as possible, and the producers should be able to handle unexpected situations. For both Adidas and Nike, it seems that the purposes of their livestreaming activities are to enhance their company’s brand awareness and entertain their customers. For instance, Adidas’s Gauntlet live streaming series on Twitch allowed viewers to experience a new way of enjoying basketball game.
Second, to increase viewership and subsequently engagement, the livestreaming event should be promoted widely and in a timely manner so that the intended audience knows about the event and makes time to join. Agenda should be publicised to attract audience and let them know what to expect and prepare their questions if any. Moreover, the producers should also survey their target audience to learn about their behaviours and select the best timing for the events. In this extent, both Nike and Adidas did a great job in promoting their campaigns. To be specific, Nike’s upcoming livestreaming events are often advertised widely on its official websites and social media posts. Similarly, Adidas implemented the same practices. In some popular streaming events such as @3StripeLive sponsored by Adidas, the events were also covered by news media outlets, giving them even more public exposure.
Lastly, it is also critical to choose the suitable platforms for livestreaming. For instance, if the company has its biggest followers on Facebook, it might be wise to select Facebook Live for its livestreaming event. To illustrate, Nike utilised YouTube to run its workout tutorial series to help its subscribers learn about various workout exercises and self-practice. On the other hand, it partnered with gaming livestreaming platform Twitch to livestream its Kyrie 2 shoe launching to reach out to the gamers’ community.
Benefits of Livestreaming
It is easy to understand why livestreaming has become so popular among marketers; it comes with a great deal of benefit. In the first place, livestreaming solves one of the biggest impediments of e-commerce of all time which is the lack of social interaction between the sellers and the buyers. Thanks to livestreaming, buyers can see the sellers, their facial expressions and body languages. They can also interact with the content in real time, expressing their opinions and getting feedbacks almost immediately. In other words, livestreaming has filled the gap between online and offline marketing and created a new type of e-commerce that has more human presence (Addo et al. 2021). This not only boosts potential customers’ excitement for event but also enhances their trust in the sellers and the products. To illustrate, Nike’s #Breaking2 was praised for its mastery of crafting an authentic product launch event thanks to the fact that Nike livestreamed the event on Facebook and Twitter, enabling viewers to see the whole event for themselves in real time.
Second, livestreaming is an effective tool for corporate branding. In particular, by giving opportunities for customers to participate in the event, the audience can experience the company in a more human way, meeting and hearing from the real people behind a product/ service. The company can also directly communicate its brand identity to the customers, providing them with reliable information about the products. A study by Wongkitrungrueng et al. (2020) investigated livestreaming activities of more than 87 Thai sellers via Facebook also validated that livestreaming strengthened the relationships between the buyers and the sellers. Customers view sellers more than just product/ service providers but also their friends. In fact, both sides spend efforts to build the friendly relationship and become more engaged with one another’s content.
Third, some company use livestreaming in combination with social media influencer marketing, which multiplies the impacts of the promotion much further. It was reported that influencer livestreaming has gained sufficient interest especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Customers turn to social media influencers for inspirations during their product search, and seeing influencers using and reviewing a new product during livestreaming gives them an idea about the product and whether they want to buy it (Fromm 2018).
In influencer marketing, Nike and Adidas are among the most successful adopters. Specifically, Nike has cooperated with various celebrities, especially famous sport players to become its brand ambassadors. Nike’s livestreaming events sometimes included exclusive interviews with its ambassadors who would go on endorsing the products. Nike wanted to highlight its products’ superior performance, enabled by utilising the most innovative technologies in the field. Compared with Nike, Adidas’s brand ambassadors featured a wider range of celebrities, ranging from singers, actors/ actresses to sports players as it attempted to spread the message that Adidas is for everyone.
In sum, livestreaming has been and will continue to be the next big thing of social media marketing. Considering its benefits, livestreaming provides companies with great opportunities to accomplish different objectives. Hence, big international brands such as Nike and Adidas are eager to take advantage of this new channel. However, to ensure the effectiveness of incorporating livestreaming with their social media marketing strategies, there are some concerns companies should take into account. For one thing, companies have almost no control over what other social media users discuss about them. Everything on the Internet, both positive and negative information, can be shared and spread in a matter of seconds. Hence, companies should prepare for their livestreaming sessions carefully to avoid making irretrievable mistakes which can cause long lasting adverse effects on their brand reputation. Furthermore, as livestreaming is quite a new phenomenon, the legal system of most countries has not caught up with it. For example, copyright infringement is a common problem on the Internet and there is no effective solution to prevent/ resolve the issue completely. Thus, companies should expect the situations to protect themselves and their properties in these cases.
Addo, P., Fang, J., Asare, A. & Kulbo, N., 2021, Customer engagement and purchase intention in live-streaming digital marketing platforms, The Service Industries Journal, pp. 1-20.
Ali Taha, V. et al., 2021, The Use of Social Media and Its Impact on Shopping Behavior of Slovak and Italian Consumers during COVID-19 Pandemic, Sustainability, Volume 13, pp. 1-19.
Burcher, N., 2012. Paid, Owned, Earned: Maximising Marketing Returns in a Socially Connected World. 1st ed. London: Kogan Page.
Cai, J. & Wohn, D., 2019, Live Streaming Commerce: Uses and Gratifications Approach to Understanding Consumers’ Motivations, Honolulu.
Fromm, J., 2018, Marketing to Gen Z: The Rules for Reaching This Vast-and Very Different-Generation of Influencers, 1st ed. New York: AMACOM.
Mason, A., Narcum, J. & Mason, K., 2021, Social media marketing gains importance after Covid-19.
Smart Insights, 2020, Global social media research summary August 2020.
Wongkitrungrueng, A., Dehouche, N. & NAssarut, N., 2020, Live streaming commerce from the sellers’ perspective: implications for online relationship marketing, Journal of Marketing Management, 36(5-6), pp. 488-518.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Liz Westwood from UK on April 27, 2021:
This is an interesting and informative article. Livestreaming is a term that I have become increasingly familiar with over the past year or so. It seems that from local churches to, in this case, global enterprises, they are all making use of the facilities available to them online.