Since the launch of Twitter’s ambitious live streaming platform Periscope in the spring of 2015, live streaming media has become an increasingly popular method for marketers to reach their audiences. Though the concept of livestreaming is in no way groundbreaking (see: twitch.tv, a video-sharing platform that has utilized live streaming since 2013), it has recently undergone implementation into larger, more popular social platforms such as Facebook and Instagram.
In response to this marketing renaissance, many brands are capitalizing on the interactive qualities of live video in order reach and engage target audiences with greater precision. Though, as this trend grows, the question begs to be asked: is live video the future, or is it just right now?
Instagram launched its live video feature earlier this month as an extension of its intellectually controversial Stories feature. With such little time having passed since its inception, it’s difficult to understand the full scope of its impact; however, user reactions to the feature are readily available.
One of the more commonly criticized aspects of Instagram’s live video function is the influx of notifications users receive notifying them that an account that they follow has “gone live.” Internet forums buzzed with discussions about how to disable this “irritating” new addition, which luckily had already been taken into account by Instagram, and an option to disable the notifications was built into the update.
Considering all of these things, one could argue that there is an inherent issue in the seamless integration of live video. Live video broadcasts are often limited in duration, typically lasting minutes at most. In order to maximize audience sizes, users must be notified within this very brief window of time - else the broadcast will end and only those who happened to be scrolling past at the time will view the content. Therefore, to the dismay of many users, notifications are a necessity in Instagram’s live video model.
Facebook took steps to solve this exact problem by adding an option to upload live videos after the actual broadcast has ended. Facebook as a platform is much better suited to this type of solution than Instagram, with a more complex timeline algorithm and post sharing - keeping posts relevant for longer periods of time. Yet despite these features, Facebook is ultimately forced to use the more practical method of uploading videos to make live video anything more than just a gimmick.
Given the spontaneous nature of the digital age, live video is likely here to stay. Despite the many, inevitable hurdles that live broadcasts (of all mediums, not just social media) face, it is the next step in keeping relevant information at the fingertips of target audiences around the world.