The next big thing? The rise of social media live streaming

In the beginning…

Streaming technologies aren’t new. In fact, they’re about as old as the internet itself, dating back to the mid-nineties. However, the advent of social media has allowed for an entirely new realm of live streaming opportunities to develop.

After first forays into interactive live streaming, such as Google Live Hangouts, brands and media have begun to realise the power of directly engaging with their audience and consumers in real time. If social media democratised publishing power for everyone, then « Live » allows for something entirely new: an interactive and real-time content experience that takes engagement to another level, prioritising the audience’s comments, questions and reactions. 

The usual rivalry: Twitter vs. Facebook

Twitter is the original “live” platform, used historically for breaking news. In March 2015, Twitter announced its acquisition and integration of Periscope, an app which allows live streaming of video. A few months later, Facebook responded by launching their own live broadcast option for their verified users, initially offering incentives to drive its adoption. The move was seen by some as another way for the platform to strengthen their revenue stream in future. It was certainly a competitive response to Twitter, Periscope and other platforms such as Twitch, Meerkat and even YouTube. However, the greatest incentive to using Facebook Live is not that it’s the best technology available, but simply that it allows brands to potentially access Facebook’s enormous user base of 1.7 billion people.

2016: a big year for social media

In April 2016, Facebook Live streaming became available for all users. Following a few ups and downs (and some epic fails), media channels and brands on Facebook began to master the tool as a means of further connecting to their followers. In the United States, a number of important partnerships between television networks and social media platforms (ABC and Facebook, Bloomberg TV and Twitter) emerged. For the first time, the 2016 US presidential debates were livestreamed, allowing anyone on social media access to what used to be limited to national television. Just today, Women’s Marches in protest of Donald Trump took place not only in the streets of Washington and hundreds of other cities across the world, but also online:  


Big media channels and N.G.O.s have used live broadcasting on social media to share interviews and events from around the globe. For journalism, live streaming presents a particularly interesting and disruptive development. As Liz Spayd, Public Editor at the New York Times put it; “these videos represent a potentially transformational form of journalism because they let stories unfold organically, live, and with the audience able to change the experience ». 

Still not convinced? Consider this: 

  1. The average adult consumes 5.5 hours of video per day
  2. You are holding a small production and broadcasting studio in your hand right now.
  3. Live is a really interesting and dynamic new digital and social communications tool. This free flow of real-time information and dynamic back and forth could be really engaging and transformative for audiences across the world. 

So, what are you waiting for?

Get started with live and integrate it into your social media strategy.  

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