Social media used to be all about friend requests and music playlists. These were the days when Myspace and Facebook were battling for social media positioning before anybody even knew social media existed. Saying times have changed since would be the understatement of the decade. Nowadays Facebook is King with outlets like Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter all working hard to strengthen their respective market shares. One tool all four have been utilizing more than ever is video.
Facebook has had the ability for users to post videos along with photos for a long time. Yet the “live video” function is incredibly user-friendly and catchy. Last fall I shot my first live video when I got to walk onto the field of MetLife Stadium before the New York Jets’ home opener. What used to be looking for how many likes a post got then became how many views something got. All of the years we have been scrolling through our Facebook feed of mostly photos and links are quickly trending into all kinds of live and replayed video.
The most popular form of video, though, is streaming. Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime have owned the streaming outlet for years and have definitely caught the attention of Facebook and Twitter. The latter streamed some NFL Thursday night games over the last few years. Facebook tried to bid on NFL games this fall but was beat out by Amazon. Facebook did, however, get an exclusive deal with Major League Baseball to stream 25 games this season. Imagine going through your news feed and seeing a baseball game going on that very moment. No TV needed. You could even stream from the app on your cell phone. This seems new but is something that Verizon Wireless and Sprint did first, actually. The first time I went to a game at the new Yankee Stadium, my brother and I watched the New York Rangers’ playoff game from a super small smartphone on the 4 train on our way to the Bronx. This was in April of 2009. The days when data was new and for $5/month was unlimited. And one of the National Hockey League’s biggest sponsors was Verizon Wireless which streamed NBC games right to mobile phones live. Sprint was one of NASCAR’s biggest sponsors around the same time and subsequently streamed live races to their users’ cell phones.
The days of cheap unlimited data are long gone. It seems like cell phone companies have made it easy to go over on data from social media outlets having so many videos playing. Have you opened a news feed on Twitter or Facebook and videos automatically play as you reach them? Well, if you aren’t on WiFi, this will eat your data quicker than Pac-Man eats dots on level one. There is an option under settings for these videos to only play when connected to WiFi. You need to look for it and don’t expect your cell phone company to send any tutorials.
In spite of all the higher data charges and potential overages, users of Instagram and Snapchat have been all about these outlets’ video options. Instead of simply sending fun photos on Snapchat now one can send even more fun videos. Instagram was once all about their photo features but now has Stories and live video options as well.
Users and businesses that are on social media understand the importance of video. It is the new toy everybody wants to play with. We want some more.