Livestreaming, often an afterthought of social media strategy, became the key to engagement and massive audience growth during the pandemic.
In March 2020, hip-hop artists Timbaland and Swizz Beatz pitted their musical talents against one another on Instagram Live for the Web series Verzuz. Subsequent episodes featured other artists going head to head, drawing in huge viewership numbers. By August, the brand had partnered with Apple’s streaming service, driving numbers even higher. A battle between Gucci Mane and Jeezy pulled in 9.1 million live viewers across streaming platforms.
Verzuz battles weren’t the only thing viewers tuned in for. Google reported in June 2020that watch time for live content was up 250% over the previous year. On Facebook, live viewings spiked by 50% during lockdown periods. TikTok use skyrocketed in 2020, with more than 100 million monthly active users in the U.S. by August.
Live video gives brands an algorithmic advantage on competitive platforms and builds a library of social videos that can be reshared when relevant. Brands can track how many people are watching—and more importantly—how they’re reacting to what they watch, generating meaningful data to shape messaging.