Facebook wrapped its F8 developers conference this week and the headline news is the opening up of the company’s live-streaming video API to allow any device to stream video to the Facebook platform. A feature that had until this week been confined to the vertical screens of smart phones can now be incorporated directly into video cameras and, as Mark Zuckerberg dramatically demonstrated, even drones:
With its massive audience and its courting of celebrities and news organizations, Facebook is going all-in on the live video streaming front. Getting live streaming features built into hardware devices continues the trend that Meerkat, Periscope and others kicked off. And it doesn’t take a great leap of imagination to figure out that news organizations are likely to adopt this.
BuzzFeed (of course) was the first news organization to truly take advantage of Facebook Live by exploding a watermelon one rubber band at at time. The 45-minute broadcast had a peak live viewership of 807,000 people and the video has earned 10.3 million (and counting) views to date:
Facebook has favored video uploaded directly to the platform over shared links to videos (mostly YouTube videos, not coincidentally) for some time. The company continues to roll out additional features that make video a more prominent form of content, including:
- Adding Reactions (Facebook’s expansion of the Like button to include emoji-like emotional “reactions”),
- Giving on-demand viewers the ability to see the comments as they happened during the live broadcast,
- Filters for live video,
- The ability to easily invite your friends to watch a live video with you, and
- Allowing people to live-stream within Facebook Groups and Events.
Facebook is also incorporating live videos into trending topics.
This has obvious implications for breaking news and crisis communication situations involving broad audiences. And the first prominent examples of its use are likely to be from consumer brands.
But if you think about how Facebook personalizes its newsfeed algorithm to give more prominence to content shared by the people with whom you most often interact, the content you most engage with, and local content that is relevant to you, you can start to see how Facebook Live video could show up in trending content for niche audiences as well.
That makes Facebook Live a tactic that could apply to B2B and more narrowly-focused audiences.
Facebook isn’t the only game in town for live-streaming video, though. We’ve discussed Meerkat and Blab before. And it’s worth keeping in mind that Facebook lost out to Twitter for the bid to live-stream NFL Thursday Night Football games, so Periscope is still a major live-streaming player (especially when you take into account it’s deal with Google to incorporate content into search results).
And speaking of Google, Google-owned YouTube has a live-streaming app in development called YouTube Connect (though why they hadn’t launched such an app a year ago is a bit of a mystery), which will allow mobile streaming from your smart phone directly to your YouTube channel.
Finally, consider the fact that Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu, if they wanted to, could easily open up their platforms for live-streams.
Video continues to be a content format that is in high demand and the opportunities to take advantage of that demand continue to grow.
But, as always, don’t do live video for the sake of doing live video. Have a deliberate business purpose and outcome you want to achieve. We are always happy to help you think it through.