The evolution of social media platforms is an ever-changing climate that even the youngest and most tech-savvy folks are struggling to keep the pace. What has seemed to take over as 2017 comes to a close, though, is the emergence of live video as everybody’s new favorite thing. Its prevalence through multiple outlets such as Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook is starting to diminish what drew everyone to these things in the first place.
If you first got a cell phone at or around 2000 then you probably loved how easy and convenient it was to call friends and family. Nights and weekends were the best times to make or receive calls since they were unlimited. The rest of the time there was an allowance of minutes that seemed to run out way too fast. Not long after the turn of the century another way to communicate via cell phones made talking seem, well, old-fashioned. It was around this time that anybody 25-years old and under was obsessing over AOL Instant Messenger. Cell phone companies caught wind of this and introduced something that would be known as “texting.” The new fad spread like wildfire and unlimited nights and weekends was nothing compared to unlimited texts.
As cell phones and texting continued to evolve apps such as Skype and Facetime began to make some serious noise. The ability to make calls on cell phones and see the person you were talking to seemed to be the ultimate communicating feature. Fast-forward to now and the use of live video clips and stories has dominated everything else.
A few months back my beautiful wife started using Snapchat with her friends to send one another short videos with fun filters. At first I was thinking how I hadn’t used Snapchat in a few years. Yet after re-downloading the app myself and seeing its new features I was blown away. Each day it has new filters for selfies and even videos that can be sent to all of someone’s friends or a selected amount. If nothing else Snapchat has given its users a reason to open the app on a daily basis. Facebook noticed Snapchat’s filters and began offering a similar feature on its app not that long ago. Some of the filters on both apps involved sponsored content but its originality gets the most hits.
Several years ago I loved using the app known as Instagram. An app that essentially was for photos has now been taken over by video in a new item known as “stories.” Debuted in August 2016, Instagram Stories allows users to create videos for their feed which disappear 24 hours later. This is somewhat similar to Snapchat messages also known as “Snaps” that are only able to be viewed once and then disappear. Imagine old Facebook posts you might have regretted putting out there. Well, Snapchat Stories doesn’t give you more than a day to regret one of your video-friendly posts. Pretty cool, huh?
The ease of live videos on Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat are all so much easier than the old king of video, YouTube. The latter has now shifted its focus to YouTube TV, services that allow users another way to watch cable without everybody’s favorite: cable companies. YouTube has had to crack down on its users’ posts given the current political climate and “fake news” that is growing at alarming rates. Trying to capitalize on subscribers, YouTube TV offers $35/month that comes with 40+ channels, local sports, and get this: SIX accounts. Think about that for a second. How many cable boxes do you have in your home? How much do you wish you had in your home? I’m guessing your wish is not greater than six which is what you would get from YouTube TV. This can be watched on Smart TV’s, tablets, cell phones, game systems, and more.
Facebook’s live video feature is not just good for you or me posting something. It has also allowed news outlets to air press conferences right on Facebook as they are happening live. This has the feel of live TV and allows you to add comments on the feed as it is happening. The same posts are then automatically saved on the accounts’ news feeds and can be watched again whenever, similar to a DVR but you don’t have to hit a button or schedule it. Yeah, that’s right. It’s already done for you. One company that is looking to capitalize off Facebook's live feeds is World Wrestling Entertainment. Yes, the WWE will soon have some matches aired live through Facebook to help boost an already growing empire.
A friend of mine in the social media industry told me recently: “Facebook video is going to be bigger than YouTube someday.” It sure seems to be on the right track.