Live Video and Facebook: A Rocky Road

Recently, Facebook has been attempting to become the king of live video. Even though live video is new it is losing momentum with people as we see Facebook trying hard to keep this pendulum swinging. For example, we see Facebook putting increased focus on broadcast-quality and professionally produced content over amateur posts. This emphasis makes sense as Facebook has faced a series of challenges with personal live streams; including the broadcast of criminal content and self-harm which is increasingly difficult to moderate or censor as it’s happening in real-time.

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What may also be hurting live video is the low quality of content most people produce. It’s the harsh reality, but most people aren’t good at live video and don’t produce content the majority would be interested in, which makes them stray away from those annoying live video notifications you see coming across your phone every so often. The consumer social media market demands quality content and entertaining videos, and if you don’t deliver the platform will fail. People can also do whatever they want in a live video and this means it could go against Facebook’s content policies which could hurt Facebook in the long run. So how does one create quality content and keep people within Facebook’s policies while streaming in real-time?

Facebook has announced two new Live features which both lean towards boosting the entertainment value of streaming by providing new capacity for exposure and discussion, and adding more perspective and engagement within a stream. The first addition is a new way to chat with friends via direct message within a live-stream. On stream you can comment with others or you can start your own chat with friends at the same time you can join back in with the public allowing you the best of both worlds. Facebook has said they will be testing this in multiple countries (for now this will only be on your mobile phone), later this summer they will make this feature available on multiple platforms.

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The second addition is one which has been floating around for some time – the ability to bring in guests on your live streams. In an official statement from Facebook: “Last year we started rolling out the ability for public figures to go live with a guest. Now available for all profiles and pages on iOS, Live With lets you invite a friend into your live video so you can hang out together, even if you’re not in the same place/ Sharing the screen with a friend can make you going live more fun and interactive – for both you and your viewers.”

You can now invite a desired quest from your live viewers’ list, or tap on a comment from a view you would like to add having the ability to decline or accept them into your video. Think of this as a Facetime ability for your live footage for everyone to see. As anyone knows live streaming all by yourself can put a lot of pressure on you, especially if you’re someone new. Adding a person to talk with can take some pressure off and add an interesting conversation thus entertaining your audience more, instead of watching someone who is nervous talking to a couple of uninterested people on your stream.

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As we hinted to earlier, Facebook does appear to be shifting focus in live video with an increased focus on new, exclusive TV-hype programming including the recent addition of Major League Baseball broadcasts. Facebook hasn’t released a lot of specific data on live-stream usage. However it’s likely that they’re seeing similar adoption trends to other platforms; Meerkat, for example, before the app’s demise, had trouble attracting repeat broadcasters, which then made it even more difficult to keep viewers coming back (and worth noting, Meerkat had a similar guest feature called ‘Cameo”).

Seeing Facebook indulge in Live Video is interesting. We can assume that this won’t be the main focus point in the future of Facebook as a whole. It will be interesting to see the evolution of live video and how Facebook will help its progression into the consumer mainstream.

Brett Brooks is a Partner of RedFox Creative. For more information or to leave a comment send an email to brettb@redfoxcreate.com, or visit us at http://www.redfoxcreate.com. We’d love to hear from you!

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