In the battle for customers, Ranger Up deploys Facebook Live videos

September 16, 2016 12:48 PM

Social media is a constantly changing animal. And it’s something that Ranger Up, a maker and web-only retailer of military-inspired clothing and gear, has made a point of keeping up with.

“Social media changes every day,” says Nick Palmisciano, CEO of Ranger Up. “Whatever is new and whatever is cool, that’s our social media strategy.”  So that means live video is in the social playbook for the retailer.

Facebook Inc. recently rolled out live video capability, in which consumers and brands can broadcast a video live from their account, and whoever is a friend or follower will see the real-time video in their newsfeed. Facebook says it ranks live videos higher than videos not recorded live in a user’s newsfeed. The higher ranking is for good reason: Consumers spend three times longer watching a Facebook Live video compared with a video that’s not recorded live, Facebook says.

Ranger Up, No. 989 in the Internet Retailer 2016 Second 500 Guide, posts live videos to promote events when the retailer travels the country touting its products. The e-retailer also produces one-off live videos when the mood strikes, Palmisciano says.

“If you want immediate interaction and feedback, there is nothing better than the live stream,” Palmisciano says.

For example, two Ranger Up employees hosted a party in New York City and live-streamed a Facebook video to encourage consumers to join them. Of several hundred people who came to the party, about 100 heard about it from the live video, Palmisciano says.

Palmisciano also likes the way live videos enable the retailer to interact one-on-one with consumers. Viewers can type into the comment box on the video, and Ranger Up can see questions in in real time and then verbally answer in the video.

“The goal of content is to amuse, educate or improve the lives of our fans,” he says.

A successful live stream for Ranger Up typically means that at any given moment during the feed, 2,000-5,000 consumers are watching, and by the end of the stream about 30,000 consumers have tuned in at some point. If the video continues to be a success, it generates tens of thousands more views throughout the day, Palmisciano says.

Ranger Up promotes its live videos via email, Facebook and Instagram. Palmisciano also shares the feed from his personal account. Either Ranger Up, with its 877,500 Likes, or Palmisciano, with 28,700 friends, will start the live video stream, and the other entity will immediately share it to get a potential audience of around 900,000. If Facebook allowed brands to pay to amplify their video to promote it to more users, Palmisciano says he would be interested. Facebook does not offer that option currently.

The Facebook Live videos also contain a marketing component: Ranger Up can segment its Facebook ads to consumers who previously have watched one of its live videos. Palmisciano says his marketing dollars go further when he markets to those live video watchers. Ranger Up receives $8-$12 in sales for each dollar it spends advertising to consumers who have watched a Ranger Up live video, compared with $4 for every $1 in social media ads marketed to consumers who haven’t watched a live video before.

“When your audience enjoys your content, they are more likely to purchase,” Palmisciano says.

Ranger Up in October plans to start a weekly live video segment to generate a more consistent following and build its brand awareness, he says. The video will be about 45 minutes to an hour because that is about as long as the retailer can keep an audience interested while providing good content, and Palmisciano says he doesn’t want to create and promote a video that’s only five minutes long. The retailer is still deciding on video topics for the weekly segments, but it will have a “Saturday Night Live” feel to it, he says.

Ranger Up already creates videos for YouTube and its Facebook page, so the e-retailer has ample equipment, such as tripods and green screens, on hand to create Facebook Live videos. The real investment is the handful of hours it takes to come up with the content and to complete the shoot, Palmisciano says.

Facebook and Instagram are the social media networks Ranger Up pays the most attention to, Palmisciano says. Ranger Up dabbled with Twitter Inc.’s live-streaming app Periscope, however, the e-retailer rarely posts via that app anymore because Facebook has a significantly larger audience, he says.




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