Just before the New Year rolled in, we predicted 2016 to be the year in which live video streaming would explode. Facebook has just proven us right.
The 1.5-billion user company just made two major announcements. Both of these show Facebook’s commitment to ensure you enjoy as much live-streamed video as you can.
Live Streaming For Everyone
The first announcement is the grand expansion of Facebook’s live video-streaming service, Facebook Live. On his Facebook page, CEO Mark Zuckerber said, “Anyone with a phone now has the power to broadcast to anyone in the world”. This live streaming capability has been available for major personalities and celebs since 2015. Now it’s available to all of us (if you don’t have access yet, you will very soon).
To start your own live video stream, go to “update status” on your Facebook app. You’ll see a new live video button. Click that, and you’ll be guided through the very simple process. Facebook has released some useful tips for successful live streaming on its website. If you don’t want your video to be seen by everyone, you can broadcast only to select groups or events for additional privacy.
You’ll soon see more new features being released allowing you to add more text and filters to your videos.
Facebook vs. YouTube?
The second announcement is the rollout of a video hub which will soon be replacing the Facebook app’s Messenger button. This is a video discovery tab where you can find live and pre-recorded videos, rather than waiting for them to appear in your newsfeed.
Some are citing this as a “full assault on YouTube”. It’s probably not going to be that disruptive just yet, but it is going to open up a ton of new ways to publish and consume content on Facebook.
10 Uses for Facebook Live
Despite these features already being available on video streaming apps like Snapchat and Meerkat, this is a big deal. When you stream on, say, Snapchat, you need a whole new audience to broadcast to. With Facebook Live though, you can stream to your own family, friends, and fans right away. Your video will also be discoverable to new audience members while you’re live via the video hub.
It’s likely this will be a feature used mostly by celebs and brands to entertain their followers. But there will be other ways we can use Facebook Live, too. Let me give you a few examples. If you have more ideas, please share these in the comments!
Long-Distance Family Events
Too many times we miss a wedding, christening, or birthday party because it’s just too far away. With Facebook Live, these events can be streamed instantly to loved-ones back home who can’t make it. For those watching remotely, comments can be left so they can feel more involved with the event.
Expect to see many more of these being hosted on Facebook, where questions will be posted as the video is being streamed, and answers being provided there and then. Similarly, we’ll see more live interviews being streamed where audiences can react on the fly.
Facebook’s Product Management Director for video Fidji Simo told Tech Crunch that a few news outlets are being paid “directly by Facebook to cover their costs of broadcasting Live video on Facebook, rather than on their websites where they can monetize with ads”. If this proves successful, we can expect Facebook to become a natural publishing platform for some of these live news broadcasts.
Twitter recently won a $10m contract to stream Thursday NFL games. Up to now, Twitter has been the natural place for viewers to react to live events, so streaming sports on the platform makes sense. But with its larger user base and war chest, Facebook could be winning far more sports streaming rights in the future.
Influencers like Gary Vaynerchuk and plenty of celebs already share snippets of their day on Snapchat and Instagram. This behind the scenes look at how others are spending their time is irresistible to many.
This is why it’s going to be a common use of Facebook Live for bloggers, vloggers, and celebs. The ability to see what would otherwise be unseen. To peer into the lives of those the fans admire — it’s Facebook’s recipe for success.
Thousands of conferences are held each year covering every interest imaginable. Unfortunately, many people who’d love to attend simply can’t. If the best parts of these conferences are streamed live, those who can’t attend can still listen to the talks, and experience the general vibe of the event. The same goes for other one-time events, from gigs to theater productions.
Reactions and Rants
Whether broadcast by YouTubers, Journalists, or anyone else, Facebook Live will be used to stream on-the-fly, unedited reactions and over-the-top rants on current affairs, celeb gossip, and political rallies. Some will go viral. Some will be seen by only your close friends.
Take the video above, which shows a YouTuber ranting about an experience at Subway, which was previously mentioned on a live chat she hosted. This is the kind of content that could could easily go viral on Facebook Live.
Imagine the number of people who would watch a live stream from Justin Bieber. The huge audience this stream would attract will generate huge interest from corporations. We can expect large payments to be made to The Biebs to drink a drink, unwrap a product, or play with an app, live. If you can build a large audience, this vlogging business model could be achievable, too.
How-to Videos (Especially Cooking)
You may have noticed the increased popularity of recipe videos and gifs being posted to Facebook in the past few months.
Now picture those recipes (or any other how-to video) being streamed live. The audience can react, ask questions, and clarify any of the steps with the teacher, thereby making this content especially valuable. In this case, the 1.3m people who’ve watched Jamie Oliver show them how to make pesto (above) would likely be much higher.
For the past couple of years, a large number of free webinars have been hosted on Google Hangouts or other third-party apps. Though with so many of the people we meet being Facebook users, hosting these webinars on Facebook makes a lot of sense. This would be far easier than asking people to sign up to an entirely new video streaming service. All we’d have to do is tell people to join a Facebook Live stream at a certain time, and the webinar will be streamed.
An Interesting Development
When we predicted that live streaming would become huge in 2016, we also predicted that Facebook would become more of a content distribution platform. This is a big shift away from being a social platform, but it’s what seems to be happening.
Most people will not stream live videos of themselves eating their lunch, or sipping a cocktail. But many people will subscribe to celebs and influencers who produce content they love.
Facebook Live shifts Facebook more into the realm of being a place to consume and share content, rather than a place simply to be social with our family and friends.
When I looked at the first 30 items on my newsfeed today, only 10 were “status updates”. The other 20 consisted of shared links and videos. This is a sign of what’s to come with Facebook. All we can hope is that the live videos we watch actually add some value to our day.
Is Facebook Live something you can see yourself using? If so, would you use it as a consumer, or a producer? And do you think this is a good or bad move by Facebook?