A couple of weeks back, at VidCon, Facebook's Director of Product Fidji Simo announced that users would soon be able to broadcast on Facebook Live while using MSQRD video masks. Similar to Snapchat's popular 'Lenses', MSQRD masks enable users to wear a different face, with a range of 3D rendered options available, including animals, astronauts and even celebrities.
Now, Facebook's made it official, announcing via the Facebook Media blog that all users are now able to broadcast live via MSQRD.
Here's how you do it:
- Download or update your MSQRD app (available on iOS version 8.4 or later)
- Select "Live"
- Select the profile or Page going live, add a description, and choose your audience
- Go Live
It's an interesting addition to the live-stream process - Facebook purchased MSQRD back in March and many had speculated at the time that this would be how MSQRD would be integrated, built into Live to help boost the new function. And while the addition of MSQRD in itself is cool (and will help Facebook stay in touch with younger fans who have been spending more time on Snapchat), there is another element to consider in the addition of MSQRD masks that could deliver significant benefits for The Social Network.
One of the biggest challenges for live-streaming platforms is that most people aren't actually that comfortable with "going live" and putting themselves out there on a stream. For example, research has shown that despite Periscope having more than 10 million users signed up, only 2.83% of their user base are active broadcasters, leaving the other 97% as viewers only.
This was supported by Meerkat's founder Ben Rubin, who, in his statement to investors about that platform's decision to move away from live-streaming, noted that:
"All [live-streaming] platforms are struggling to create repeat broadcasters at a growing rate."
Meerkat's broadcaster total peaked in May last year, shortly after its launch, hitting an estimated 100,000 for that month. It hasn't grown since. Rubin noted that finding an audience for live content hasn't been the key issue for them, the main challenge has been broadcaster take-up.
"Our assumption was that by reducing broadcaster's cost to broadcast to zero (no equipment, etc) we would be able to create a whole new class of live broadcasters like YouTube did with video and YouTubers. One thing we have learned is there is a very high emotional cost to being entertaining in a live format, and bringing on enough of a live audience to make it worthwhile is challenging too."
This makes, sense - going live is hard, it's hard to provide engaging, entertaining material in a live format, and few people can do it well. At the same time, the risks are high - make a mistake and it's there for the world to see, there are no 'do-overs' in live.
But what if there was a way to reduce the exposure of live-streaming, to lessen the intimidation factor of broadcasting yourself? Like, for example, using a mask?
Aside from being a fun addition, another potential benefit of adding in MSQRD masks to the live-streaming process may be that it leads to more people broadcasting, because it may be a little easier to try it out if you're not actually showing your face. Being able to hide behind a mask could reduce the barriers to entry for live-streaming, lessen the embarrassment factor and - at the least - give people something to do on a live-stream as opposed to just broadcasting themselves and struggling to come up with a constant stream of entertaining material.
If nothing else, the MSQRD addition will get more people trying out Live, which can only be beneficial for the growth of the offering. For example, you might not be interested in going live, but you might want to check out what these MSQRD masks have to offer. You have fun with it, then you want to share a video with your friends, who are, of course, all on Facebook - integrating MSQRD into Live makes that really easy to do. Adding MSQRD into the mix gives Facebook another way to introduce people to Live and get more people aware of and using the platform.
Though, with the addition of celebrity masks, I wonder how long it will be before we have some level of controversy over people mistakenly believing that someone in a celebrity mask is actually that person for real. For instance, what if someone could do a good Trump impression and they used this mask and said something controversial?
Okay, it might be a challenge in itself to say something more controversial than Trump, but there may, at some stage, be a story about how someone has mistakenly believed a quote from someone in a MSQRD mask, thinking it to be the actual celebrity speaking. It's pretty obvious when someone's using a MSQRD mask, but then again, people do fall for those Facebook hoaxes pretty regularly too.
MSQRD's Live integration is available to iOS users right now, Android functionality is coming soon.