This year has seen an absolute explosion in the use of live video creating and streaming from the likes of Instagram, Periscope, Meerkat, Snapchat, and most recently, Facebook.
More than 200 million Americans own a smartphone and about half of those users regularly stream or watch live video. This presents an amazing opportunity for brands, publishers and content marketers to reach this audience and engage them with captivating video clips and longer-form programs. Live video streams can do a number of things: share a brand’s attributes with an audience, offer a point of view on a product or a service, give the CEO some face time, and offer outsiders an inside peek at a previously unknown world.
Over the past year, this explosion of live video has catapulted to the top of everyone’s (nearly) favorite thing to do with their phones. Even early on, content marketers could quickly see the potential in using live video for live announcements, events, interviews and more.
2015 – Kickstart for Live Video
For many content marketers, the “a-ha” moment for live web video in the palm of consumers’ hands came with the launches of Periscope and Meerkat in early 2015. Both brands promoted themselves among the digerati at SXSW 2015 in Texas, and both shortly won favor from early adopters. Shooting live video from a mobile device and sharing with social networks was the start of something incredible.
Twitter bought Periscope in March 2015, and moved Meerkat off its social graph at the same time. Because of the Twitter acquisition, the buzz around Periscope grew, while Meerkat faded a bit.
At the same time, Snapchat brought its own kind of buzz to live video creation later in 2015, complete with vanishing videos, emojis, filters and much more. Snapchat has even changed the industry emphasis from live horizontal video to live vertical video, once a faux pas in digital circles.
Facebook Live Video
Earlier this year, Facebook introduced Facebook Live, encouraging its users in a blog post to start broadcasting live video to family groups, special interest groups and others. Even well-known cable TV faces like CNBC’s Jim Cramer are big fans. For brands, Facebook Live is a more direct route to target audiences. It strips away the television set bridge in order to go directly into consumer’s hands and minds. It brings a whole new meaning to the term “getting into the customer’s head.”
Facebook is also giving more priority to live videos in Facebook feeds, it wrote in a separate blog post. “People spend more than 3x more time watching a Facebook Live video on average compared to a video that’s no longer live. This is because Facebook Live videos are more interesting in the moment than after the fact.” This fact, combined with more publishers using Facebook Instant Articles, shows that Facebook is increasingly committed to the live user experience, rather than the delayed user experience.
The social media behemoth knows that video is the future. Investment research firm Zacks notes that Facebook feels confident that going all-in on video will attract higher ad revenues. Overall, digital advertising revenues are expected to top $12.6 billion by 2019.
Still in the Streaming Battle
Before Facebook moved into live video, Snapchat and Instagram (also owned by Facebook) were on the leading edge of video creation and streaming. No doubt about it, both are still strong, but Facebook is really taking its bites along the way.
Snapchat already has 8 billion daily video view on its platform, and it shows no signs of slowing down. Instagram posted that users spent about 40% more time watching videos in the past six months, and that about 9% of all its posts are video posts. The service also recently extended its time limit on video to 60 seconds.
Overall, live video will continue to grow – people love to see them, brands can do more with them, and the live component of interactivity lends itself to news activity on social media, which can help build brand impressions. That translates into consumer-driven wins. To Facebook’s advantage, having billions of customers can make a lot of live video impressions.