Recent years have seen an explosion in social media video sharing services, along with plenty of interesting novelty apps like Dubsmash to make your posts more fun. There has also been a rise in popularity in podcasts, suggesting that these more personal forms of communication are preferred by audiences and broadcasters alike.
Instead of merely blogging, people are now sharing their expertise on YouTube, doing Q&As on Periscope and getting creative on Vine. And the audiences love it, because they can tune in while they get on with their work or mess about on Facebook.
But the scope of each video sharing app is completely different, and both creators and audiences should understand the myriad ways of using all of these social apps. The latest live-streaming apps in particular are worth knowing about.
Periscope is huge at the moment, with users from all walks of life tuning in to watch and learn multiple times a day. It’s the perfect platform for Q&A-style videos, as there is only one person in the video and many people can join in by typing questions and comments — and of course adding hearts.
Because of ideal Q&A format, many people use Periscope as a way to teach things, although there are plenty of people hosting meditation scopes, scopes from tourist destinations, concerts and other similar things. Lots of scopers will also ask their audience where they’re from, or take quick polls while they’re discussing things, making sure their audience feels valued.
Part of the addictiveness of this app is that users can recommend to other users that they watch a particular scope, sending a push notification to everyone’s phones, letting them know that the scope is on RIGHT NOW and to get watching straight away. There is some urgency to the request, because you can only participate fully if you watch in real-time and are one of the first watchers.
As scopes are deleted 24 hours after the initial broadcast, it’s also a FOMA trigger to the audience. This ephemeral nature of the broadcast is also why Periscope is a little more relaxed than other video formats.
Facebook’s native video is growing in popularity, though their live video streaming is currently still just for celebrities. Many people speculate that Facebook’s video will soon usurp YouTube, though it hasn’t yet. Maybe it will when live streaming is available to everyone.
What’s clear though is that Facebook audiences get a better experience from watching native videos in their home feed, than following a YouTube link. The videos on Facebook will start automatically as users scroll down their feed, and will only add sound when clicked to do so.
This means that hosting video on Facebook dramatically increases the chances of a Facebook user actually watching your video. Coupled with the fact that native video is prioritised by Facebook’s edgerank, and you can see the importance of hosting your video on Facebook, even if you’ve already uploaded it elsewhere.
Meerkat is similar to Periscope, in that it’s designed to let you do live video streaming to your Twitter followers. Meerkat actually came first, debuting at SXSW this year, but unfortunately for Meerkat Periscope is owned by Twitter itself and has rapidly overtaken Meerkat in popularity.
There are some differences in the way the apps work, notably that Meerkat broadcasters can schedule their streaming, thus letting audiences know via the app and Twitter ahead of time when to tune in. They can also run polls a little more formally and can easily show images from their camera roll to their audience. These little differences between the apps could help you decide which to use, but in reality there isn’t a lot worth noting.
For users who like minimal notifications from apps, Meerkat is a clear winner as it doesn’t blast you quite so often. Periscope is a little over the top with notifications if you don’t reign it in.
There also seems to be a slightly more passive attitude to the streams you see on Meerkat, with people just using it as a way to show off what they’re doing or to give an inside view of a regular day at the office. I’ve seen many streams of restaurant kitchens in action where the chef will only occasionally come over to check comments — the rest of the time you’re just watching the kitchen staff doing their thing. In contrast, a chef on Periscope would be more likely to promote the scope as sharing the way to make a particular recipe, and would then guide you through it.
Blab is the hottest new video site around. It’s probably most easily likened to Google Hangouts on Air, in that you can broadcast solo or with friends. However the participants all show up at once in a grid, Brady-Bunch-Style.
It’s also very much intertwined with Twitter, letting your followers know when you’re blabbing. It’s easy to browse and watch live or recorded streams via the website or the app, as opposed to Meerkat and Periscope that rely on external sites to be browsable on the web.
If you just want to watch these broadcasts on your own schedule, Katch.me is your new best friend. Meerkat and Periscope users can tag their broadcasts with #katch to save their individual broadcasts to Katch.me or choose to automatically upload all fo their videos.
Not all broadcasters choose to do this though, as many like using the limited availability of Periscope and Meerkat as a selling point to get people watching live. But enough people do save them, so you can search Twitter for the #katch hashtag and tune in to whatever you like.
The Future of Social Media is Video
These apps are by no means the only popular social video apps out there. There are still thriving communities on Vine, YouTube, Vimeo, Instagram, Snapchat, Google Hangouts (many using Hangouts on Air), Skype, Ustream, Flickr and more. They’re all unique to the platform, some offering live streaming and others just letting you upload videos for sharing.
Many social music sites are also including an element of video, such as Last.fm’s YouTube integration and Spotify’s future plans for video. YouTube itself is even a great way to browse music videos.
What is your favorite live-streaming video app? Where do you save your own videos?