Over a year ago in March 2015 Twitter announced that it had purchased live-video streaming mobile app company, Periscope, at a figure just south of $100 million — among the social media giant’s most expensive purchases. A few days after this rival video-conferencing app Meerkat steals the show at the annual SXSW Interactive festival, with scores of tech early adopters using the app to stream live panels and talks from the conference in Austin. This was the beginning of the journey for live-video streaming apps. In this article I will outline what has worked, what hasn’t worked, and who has got the right ideas going forward.
In a world where real time is everything it is only fitting that streaming, interacting with, and sharing live events is, and has been so popular since the start- from sporting events like the famous Mayweather v Pacquiao fight back in May 2015, to US Presidential campaigns such as Hilary Clinton’s. It has now become the norm for celebrities and influencers to use live-video apps as THE new channel to reach their fans on, as well as brand managers to engage audiences, increase exposure, and amplify brands. This is (what I like to call) the new dawn of ‘new-age marketing’. A Cisco report (May,2015) predicted that by 2017, video will account for 30 percent of internet traffic and 70 percent of traffic on mobile devices, backing that this trend will continue to grow and become more and more valuable to marketeers.
Snapchat- not quite “live”
Before I start going into the progression (so far) of live-video apps I want to mention the “live” capabilities of Snapchat, the “self-destructing” photo and video messaging platform. Back in June 2014 Snapchat launched a new feature called “Our Story” which lets users attending specific live events submit pictures and videos through the app. This user generated content then gets curated and posted within a collection of other similar content and is then available for all users to see, nearly in real time… This feature was then re-branded as “live”, and according to Snapchat, some events are attracting an audience that rivals viewership for comparable television broadcasts.
“More people are watching college football on Snapchat than they are on television,” Evan Spiegel, CEO and co-founder of Snapchat
Fast forward to today and Snapchat is the fastest growing social network among Millennial’s, with 36% of American’s 18-29 having a Snapchat account and the platform racking up 7 billion view each day, rivalling that of Facebook. A long list of celebrities, influencers and politicians regularly use Snapchat as their social media platform of choice when it comes to engaging users, with The White House joining in January 2016. See a timeline of Snapchat’s milestones here. After having many critics in it’s early stages it’s safe to say that with Snapchat’s many-to-many broadcasting capabilities and marketing, PR and advertising potential, it is here to stay for the foreseeable future.
Periscope- killing it since day 1
Within just 10 days of the app’s launch, Periscope hits one million downloads, and at the end of April 2015 and seems to be the platform of choice amongst live video users- and has stayed that way since with more users and in turn much more engagement than rival app Meerkat. In a move to dominate the live streaming space and capture additional fans, in July 2015 Periscope releases new geo-location and replay features for its iOS app, improving the user experience and making the service more attractive for all. This was an obvious feature progression to boost engagement and keep people on their apps for longer, and it worked a treat!
Moving forward they had a lot up their sleeve from launching a channel on Apple TV to integrating their live streams into Twitter’s feed. See the timeline of their first years progression below:
Up until now they well and truly are dominating the live-video app space with 10 million registered accounts and an impressive 2 million daily active users. (August, 2015)
Moving Forward- Facebook Live
So with both Snapchat and Periscope both blossoming into the popular services that they currently are, is there room for anyone new? Enter Facebook Live…
Facebook Live was introduced to our screens last summer for public figures to address their ‘fans’ in real time through Facebook Mentions, and has recently been rolled out for everyone to use. The capabilities of Facebook Live include everything the other platforms offer, and more:
1. Share live video directly with specific groups, including members of a specific event. This will prove to be massive! Putting it into context if you are at a live event you can stream it and share it for the people who could not attend to see… The same applies for groups- e.g. if you want to share something with your family members, you can do this live and direct through a group live-video. There is also the ability to use events to schedule a live Q&A session, which will prove to be extremely valuable for brands, celebrities and fan pages to connect with their followers.
“We hope this new ability to both broadcast and watch live video within Groups and Events enables people to connect more deeply with their closest friends, family and the communities of people who share their interests.” Facebook
2. Post reactions that appear in an animation within the video and comment as it plays. Like Periscope, users can react and comment on the video, interacting with the host and other viewers of the video. This is great for engaging the user further and could be used for asking questions to the host, showing your appreciation, or simply sending a ‘wow’ reaction animation when something shocking happens.
3. Doodle and add filters on a video as they shoot it. Like Snapchat, the host can instantly edit their video by drawing and adding filters to it, making the live-video more interactive with the users and adding capability for the host.
4. View a map that shows you everyone on the planet currently broadcasting live video. This is another game changing feature. In the way of discovery this is invaluable due to the sheer amount of global users and the amount of people hosting live-videos at any one time.
5. Access a feed of content displaying the best live-video content over the last 24 hours. This includes a web hub (US only at the moment, I think) that will feature the best Facebook Live videos from the past 24 hours. This is similar to Twitter’s 6-month old feature “Moments”, where headlines of big news stories over the last 24 hours are picked out and told through tweets.
“Today we’re excited to announce new features for Facebook Live to give you more ways to discover, share and interact with live video, and more ways to personalize your live broadcasts”Fidji Simo, Facebook
Facebook Live- Paving the way for live-video discovery
Facebook’s introduction of their new Live service for their app has make it easier for users to share, discover and interact with live-video content. Their array of new features makes discovering global content a whole lot easier- including the live-video world map, their live-video hub feature, and the new way of broadcasting live to events and groups- bringing a personal and intimate live-video experience, all driving engagement like never before… Like I have already mentioned this is not the first time features like this have been added to live-video platforms, however Facebook has seamlessly merged together everything that works and re-packaged it for their 1.6 billion users to enjoy. I predict this will be the start of a second phase of the evolution and rise of live-video streaming for both app and desktop, and that brands, celebrities and fan pages will jump on the opportunity to connect and engage with their Facebook followers like never before, and reap the rewards of such exposure.
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