You may have noticed lately that all the major social media platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook, have been slowly rolling out but heavily promoting new features and products around live streaming.
Because it’s the sure fire way to generate revenue and strengthen their hold on social media users around the world.
The Evolution of Online Video
To understand why live streaming is the future of social media, we must first look at the history of video and its evolution.
All one has to do is look to YouTube as well as sites like Facebook to fully see the potential in terms of growth in users and revenue. In 2015, YouTube generated more than $9B in revenue. It sees more than 4 billion daily views and has more than 1 billion users worldwide.
Facebook has similar if not better numbers, recently reporting that video was a big reason for a strong quarter. The site said it saw eight billion video views a day from 500 million users. Taking queues from YouTube, the company has started to slip in ads to these videos, thus the strong results.
Given how online users work, it's really no surprise that video has earned the top spot for social media content. As consumers, we have been trained for decades to watch TV in our living rooms and now it’s become even more accessible with advances in technology and mobile.
Produced, edited and posted video content continues to capture online users’ attention in a world of 140 characters, photos with filters and six second Snapchats. So this begs to ask the question: Why live streaming? Why not continue to push brands and creators to flood social media platforms with this video content and continue to rake in the dough? The answer is actually pretty simple: quantity.
The average adult consumes more than five hours of video per day and more than one hour is on digital devices. However, the number of people and brands creating these videos that everyone is watching is still a small fraction compared to those who are watching. Live streaming changes all of that.
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By enabling social media users to create real-time live streams of their daily lives and more, these platforms remove the stigma that video has to be well produced and edited to be seen, shared and generate revenue.
With live streaming capabilities, anyone can contribute to the already billion of daily views on these sites and thus help them advertise in these videos. Sure, you might not see an ad while the live stream is actually live, but once it’s over, saved and posted to a Facebook page you better believe it will have an ad roll somewhere.
Live Streaming Platforms
The most notable live streaming features and services today are Periscope, Meerkat, Facebook Live, and now YouTube Live.
Twitter-owned and run, this platform is standalone but integrates very seamlessly with Twitter. It has more than 10 million users, more than two million of which log in daily. There have been 200 million hours of broadcasted video to date with roughly 350,000 hours per day. The service lets users live stream from their mobile devices and push out those streams on Twitter.
What was once a hot product, Meerkat has appeared to slow down in momentum and may be feeling the pressure of trying to compete with Periscope. It has two million users, 20 percent of which are daily active users. In fact, the company may not be live streaming at all anymore in favor of a pivot to a video social network.
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Facebook offering a live streaming feature is really not surprising at all. The company is notorious for trying just about anything to get more users and generate more revenue. However, it’s what Facebook can do to continue that success that will make the real difference in the long run.
What started as a feature in Facebook Mentions has now been opened up to everyone on Facebook, including brand’s Pages. Facebook Pages can now use their own equipment and encoders to broadcast live right into the page’s stream and to all its users.
By establishing an easy to find and use “Go Live” button on new posts and Snapchat live functions to style it just so you like it and the ability to save what’s streamed for all time, Facebook Live has combined all the best of other social media networks and brought it to its more than one billion users in one place.
The birthplace of video, YouTube has continued its quest to bring video of all kinds to its more than one billion users. With YouTube Live, the company can utilize its expansive creator and advertising network to generate even more video to be hosted and monetized. YouTube makes it incredibly easy to aim, shoot and post.
In addition, the network is targeting broadcasting deals that were once reserved only for major TV networks. YouTube has signed a deal to live stream the next UEFA Champions League finals. There are also rumors that YouTube will stream live TV through a service called Unplugged that will carry some network channels and shows.
How to Create a Live Streaming Strategy
Live streaming is bringing one very important thing that is cementing their success: Accessibility. Firstly, it's giving the average online consumer a way to easily broadcast their life and thus greatly increase the amount of video on any given platform, which is then monetized.
Secondly, the phrase “anytime, anywhere” is truer than ever. Users can watch live broadcasts, whether on their PC or mobile device, in a matter of seconds. This greatly increases them overall time spent watching digital video. So how can you take advantage of the seemingly mass of consumers who will be creating and consuming live video? Create your own live streaming strategy.
Similar to any other social media or content strategy, you should have a unique offering, such as a theme. For example, if you’re a small business who makes t-shirts perhaps you live stream new designs from concept (drawing) to print. You could even live stream customer’s reactions to the new designs right in your store. Or perhaps you’re a local shopping boutique.
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Live video could be a way to model and show off your new summer line to the masses in real-time as you unbox them. Think of live streaming as a window. One that gives your consumers a glimpse into your world and business. Give them something they want more and more of and before you know it they’ll be lifelong customers.