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12th July 2016

How Facebook Live is changing everything

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Last week I watched, live, the Leader of a major UK political party make a barnstorming speech at a huge outdoor gathering; then switched over to watch a band play, live, in a Russian park and finally, watched live as Portugal won the Euro 2016 football Championships right from the heart of the Portuguese crowd – the dancing, the screaming and the tears.

I did all this on my phone via Facebook Live.

In a recent article for our Newsletter, I discussed live streaming apps such as Periscope and Meerkat, but now Facebook Live has taken live streaming to another level.

So why is Facebook so important?

Essentially, audience numbers.  Interesting content can now reach many, many more viewers. For example, Periscope, through Twitter, could potentially reach that platform’s 130 million daily active users.

That’s huge until you realise the Facebook has about 1.09 billion daily users.

Of course, just clicking the button to live stream your 5-year-old’s birthday party is not going to attract a billion people to watch the candles being blown out, but the sheer relative size and activity on the platform is indicative of the potential depth and breadth of Facebook Live’s audience.

Whilst the total number of shares on Facebook is in decline, shares of video content is increasing.

Here are some interesting March 2016 stats from Brandwatch, a social media marketing company:

  • Facebook now sees 8 billion average daily video views from 500 million users
  • Snapchat users watch 6 billion videos every day
  • US/European adults spend an average of 1 hour, 16 minutes each day watching video on digital devices
  • 78% of people watch online videos every week, 55% watch every day

No wonder the data bill for your device is increasing all the time!

The horrible events in Dallas Texas last week, when five policemen were shot dead by a lone sniper, were reported across all the conventional TV channels and editors in their news rooms made extensive use of the shaky first person video posted on Facebook.

When the Speaker of the US House of Representatives ordered that the fixed cameras be turned off, Democrat Congressmen and women turned to Periscope to draw attention to their recent sit-in to draw attention to gun control. C-Span and other TV networks picked up the live video feed from there.

My experience watching the Leader of the UK Labour Party make the speech I referred to earlier was interesting. The user had clearly set up his or her mobile device at a solid point and quite near the main TV camera point. Fortunately, there was no waving of the device around to make the viewer feel sea sick. But equally I was able to watch and listen to the politician’s complex argument being played out rather than just accept the broadcaster’s 15 second clip within a news package.

Graham Brady (UK Politician) captured on Facebook live.

So what does this mean for the future of media consumption? Really, social media is moving beyond its localised networking base – “social” media will soon become just part of the media more widely.

It doesn’t mean we can drop the social element – social media enables everyone to take part, it provides a way for everyone to voice their thoughts and opinions on any subject, any time, and that includes live-streaming. Online, I’m sure you, like me, have discussions, arguments, and shared laughs with people we are never likely to meet.

But this is a changed media landscape, user-generated media is rising to an equal footing with all other content. Where YouTube has made celebrities out of bedroom broadcasters, live-streaming just refines the medium even further. You don’t need to be an exceptional content creator; you just need to be in the right place at the right time to be the No. 1 broadcaster in the world.

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