Facebook Announces Updates to Live-Streaming, Mentions App
Live-streaming is the trend of the moment in social media marketing. Just last week, the hype around live-streaming hit a new high with the second Periscope Community Summit event being held in San Francisco with all the major players in attendance - both in terms of platform influencers and representatives from the platforms themselves. Periscope itself made quite a savvy move by introducing a major update (that Periscope streams would now autoplay in Twitter feeds) only days before the actual event, giving advocates and fans another reason to celebrate the pending boom in live-streaming content.
And while there's no doubt massive opportunity in live-streaming, we still have some way to go before a definitive leader, or winner, breaks from the pack and becomes the platform that's going to take the option to the next level. Periscope's growing, Blab's building a more niche and dedicated fan base, but none of them have been able to break out live-streaming and bring it to the wider consciousness of the wider social media community - and, in effect, the wider world. That'll likely happen, but how it happens will remain a topic of debate till it does.
This is why Facebook's live-streaming option is so important. While Facebook came late to the live-streaming party, and hasn't pushed hard to stamp it's presence on the field or takeover from the existing players, Facebook has taken a slow and steady approach to rolling out their live-streaming option - called simply 'Live' - and they're slowly making progress towards a wider roll-out and implementation of streaming options and content. Given the sheer scale of Facebook, a staged rollout makes perfect sense - too many people live-streaming at once could could system load considerations - but the other consideration with Facebook's size is that, if they wanted, Zuckerberg and Co could build a live-streaming platform that could generate reach and interest like no other. And it's very possible they will.
In line with this, Facebook has today released another update to Live to help boost the platform and make it a more user-friendly experience. Via an announcement on the official Facebook blog, The Social Network has outlined three key areas of improvement for Live, including the ability to record a Live video in landscape mode (though the video will still appear in square aspect ratio), the ability to save your Live video to your Camera Roll, and the option to upload a high quality version of your Live broadcast.
The updates, in themselves, may seem relatively minor - even the announcement post glosses over them a bit - but these are all important steps in Facebook building the best live-streaming option out there. In some ways, Facebook has an advantage on this front - having come later to the live-streaming party Facebook's engineers have been able to see what works and what doesn't in other apps and make changes to their own functionality accordingly.
The option to film in portrait or landscape will be particularly helpful when broadcasting, as (per the image above) it'll mean that comments and interactions can happen alongside the video, as opposed to below. This makes it easier to record and track the conversation in real-time - and also likely means more subtle eye movements from the broadcaster, so it doesn't seem like they're getting to distracted by these queries.
The ability to save live-stream videos has been a contentious one - Periscope still doesn't keep your streaming content beyond 24 hours (though you can use a service called Katch) while Blab does save broadcasts. Facebook Live broadcasts also live-on permanently, via Facebook, but this new addition will add to the functionality and usability of your Live content, by enabling you save your content for use off-platform (and worth noting, Periscope has this same functionality built-in).
The high-quality upload is also an interesting one, and is no doubt seeking to boost the wider appeal of live-streaming content through providing better quality material.
In addition to the Live updates, Facebook has also announced some updates to their Mentions app.
"Earlier this year, we made it possible to add topics you're interested in to your Mentions feed. With today's update, we're making it easier to filter posts within your Mentions feed by source as well as by topic. For example, if you only want to see posts from media outlets, you can select "Media Sources" from the dropdown at the top of your Mentions feed. Or if you only want to see posts about your band or sports team, just choose that topic from the top of your feed."
Facebook's also updated the Mentions private messaging functionality to make it easier for Mentions users to reply to messages sent to their Pages from within the app.
I mean, you're probably not a celebrity so you're probably not using Mentions, but either way, the updates are in effect, and will provide additional functionality for those managing their audience interactions and/or brand monitoring via the app. And in fairness, Facebook has opened up Mentions to more users in recent months (all those with verified profiles), so the amount of people who could be, and likely are, using the app is no doubt on the rise.
There's still some way to go before we get a real idea of what Facebook's plans are for live-streaming and whether it's going to make a more aggressive push to dominate the space, which is a growing element in the online video content landscape (an area Facebook's taken pride 'winning' over in the last year or so). Given online video is the fastest growing ad category - and projected for massive growth in the next few years, the business case for Facebook to 'take over' live-streaming makes sense, though they might just be waiting to see how it continues to grow, whether enthusiasm for the option tapers off at some stage, or whether it expands, as many have predicted, before they make a bigger, more concerted move.
Either way, it's an interesting area to watch, with many more developments to come.
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