The live-streaming space has changed so much over the last 12 months. It was only March last year when Meerkat crashed onto the scene, becoming the talk of the SXSW festival and winning over countless social media and digital marketing enthusiasts. Meerkat was quickly superseded by Periscope, which became the platform for live-streaming, leading to an explosion of live-stream experts, conferences and much talk of 'the next big thing'.
Then Facebook decided to crash the party.
These days, with Facebook putting such emphasis on live-streaming, it seems almost a foregone conclusion that The Social Network will become the leader in the live space. But while Meerkat opted to shift strategy in the face of significantly larger competition (which, incidentally, appears to be the direction another live-stream platform, Blab, is also heading in), Twitter - through Periscope - isn't giving up the fight just yet.
This week, Twitter has announced the addition of a new button on both the iOS and Android versions of their app that will enable people to stream live direct from their phone within on click - just like you can on Facebook.
Ready to go live? Now everyone can tap a new button on iOS & Android to easily broadcast on #Periscope from Twitter! pic.twitter.com/tedpUN1QMA- Twitter (@twitter) June 15, 2016
This means users no longer need to go into the Periscope app, specifically, to create a live stream - you just press the button and go. Clicking the button does, of course, open up a Periscope session, but it's directly integrated into the Twitter app - there's no more separation between the two. The addition, combined with the upgraded save functionality, which enables users to keep their Periscope broadcasts indefinitely, puts the feature more on par with Facebook Live, while also giving users more ways to immediately link up their live-stream sessions and share them with their Twitter audience.
In addition to this, Twitter has also announced that Periscope streams will soon be embeddable.
Speaking to International Business Times, Twitter's head of business operations at Periscope Alex Khoshnevissan said that:
"Anywhere that you can embed a tweet, you'll soon be able to embed a Periscope. For me, this is huge because it means we're totally breaking down the barrier between a live broadcast... You don't have to have Periscope. You don't have to know what Periscope is."
The update addresses one of the biggest criticisms of Periscope, that users are effectively forced to download another app to watch live-stream content. Now, Periscope users will be better able to create and promote their content on other channels across the web, giving themselves, and Periscope, additional exposure - and keeping Periscope in the wider live-streaming game.
It's difficult to say, at this stage, who's winning the live-streaming race, though Facebook looks the most likely. Facebook says the response to Live has been great, though they haven't released any definitive numbers around usage as yet. That said, some Live videos are getting huge engagement ("Chewbacca Mom" for example) and several big name publishers have noted their plans to ramp up their use of the option in coming months. And given Facebook's emphasis on Live - which includes the implementation of a range of new discovery features - it's not surprising to see more creators taking notice.
Periscope, meanwhile, has been moving along its own path. Back in August, Periscope reported that users were consuming the equivalent of 40 years of content on the platform every day.
In March this year, Periscope upped that figure to 110 years, a significant increase in time spent, but that, of course, was at the before Facebook started making a bigger push on live-streaming - Facebook began rolling out Live to all users in January then announced a major upgrade to the platform in April. Since then, you'd expect Periscope's numbers would be seeing some impact, but Twitter still sees big potential in the app - they even promoted Periscope CEO Kayvon Beykpour to the company's executive team earlier this year.
In some respects, the debate over which platform will emerge as the 'winner' is irrelevant for the people and brands that use them.
As noted recently by well known social media identity Brian Fanzo, in relation to live-streaming strategies he has implemented:
"...most people can't remember which apps we used, they can only remember the experience we created, the value we provided and the mindset shift we implemented to make it all work."
And while that's true - the experience created, and response, is the most important aspect - there is also some consideration required in regards to which platform you build presence on. Gaining a heap of followers on Meerkat, for example, may not have served you as well as building them on Periscope or Facebook, in a longer term sense. From that perspective, it's worth looking at how each platform best fits your needs and your audience behaviors. But the bottom line is really what you're able to do with the platforms.
The same is true in all aspects of content, it's not necessarily the medium that matters, but the material itself that will really drive response.
But at the same time, audience reach is always relevant. If your audience is on Periscope, you need to be there too. If your audience is on Facebook, that's your focus.
In line with this, it's not about a 'winning' platform so much as it is about your audience. Their interests, behaviors and habits will define your outreach strategy.
The only true rule in social media marketing is "your audience rules". Keep that in mind as you consider the coming shifts in the live-streaming landscape.