From the modest beginnings of Meerkat’s cult success at SXSW to Facebook’s complete embrace of the medium, we’ve witnessed the live video trend go from 0 to 100 in a little over 20 months—and we may be at the precipice of the movement.
In December, we saw Facebook restructure their mobile platform to accommodate a dedicated video tab with mobile notifications for friends ‘going live’. Later that month, we saw both Twitter and Instagram give their users live streaming capabilities—with the latter doing it in addition to their Snapchat-like sharing.
And who knows, maybe ‘Live’ will live up to the hype. Broadcasting video in real time has an enormous upside for everyone from grassroots movements to digital advertisers.
Matt Hackett, cofounder of the recently acquired social app, Beme, explains: “Live represents one of the rawest examples of the democratic potential of the internet.” Anyone with a smartphone and network connection can broadcast events to the 3 billion people that are only a few social shares away. Recall the role Twitter and Facebook played in the Arab Spring—now imagine it organized and documented with real-time video.
Twitter, having flirted with a Periscope integration for months, clearly sees this potential and has finally tied the knot with Live, allowing users to broadcast video from directly within the app. Periscope, the live-streaming company Twitter acquired in 2015, had failed to gain any real traction as a stand-alone platform despite the ability for users to stream to their followers on Twitter. Moving video broadcasting and viewing under the same roof is essential to keeping Twitter the ‘live’ platform they’ve always claimed to be.
The second, glaringly obvious reason platforms are clamoring for a share in the ‘live’ movement is the massive potential it holds for advertising dollars.
Consumer attention is constantly being courted, as it gives platforms like Facebook ample opportunity to show you highly targeted, highly lucrative ads. Encouraging users to share live video and, in turn, having their friends take the time to view it, gives social networks a huge opportunity to increase time spent on the platform.
Instagram seems to be taking this sentiment to heart, creating and replicating whatever gets users attention—from Snapchat features to live video capabilities. Their latest feature allows users to ‘Go Live’ from directly within their ‘Story’—a feature already created for more transparent, frequent sharing.
With billions of people now having access to live streaming, the medium makes a compelling case to be the future of online communication.