Unless you want to discount the eponymous YouTube, Facebook has the video bug like no other platform I know. Nowhere is that more obvious than the recently revamped Facebook Live. While most of the overage on the topic drools over the company's decisions, the claimed CEO's obsession with video and the backlash about annoying notifications, I see something different. In a nutshell:
Facebook Live, which was opened up for general usage in January, now includes the ability to broadcast to groups and events, includes live reactions, replay comments, live filters and mapping. Some argue this is Facebook playing catchup with the likes of Twitter owned Periscope. I don't care because from a consumer standpoint, Twitter doesn't count. It is Facebook and its ilk that really matter. Why am I excited?
For the first time, I am seeing a video platform with potential that is way more than more cat videos or vids of you and your mates getting plastered. There will be plenty of that, along with, I am sure, enough of the You've Been Framed style of show to keep the avid fan or wastrel amused for hours on end.
Facebook's genius has been to integrate and make the instant streaming of live video ridiculously simple for mobile devices. Anyone who has been in video for any length of time will know this is normally an incredibly difficult and time consuming exercise that requires broadcast equipment and hard wired ethernet connections to make anything work successfully.
I tried the Livestream Broadcaster some years back and it was an utter fail. Today, diginomica through its sister venture JD-OD.com, has two Tricasters and a cart load of sound gear along with TalkShow for IP based broadcasting via Skype. We effectively have two semi-mobile broadcast units but they come with limitations. We can push live and recorded content to Facebook, YouTube and the rest but until very recently it was a hand coding job to include, for example, social media. Look at Silicon Angle to get a sense of what I mean. We need an engineer to do things properly, we still need a hard wired connection and once set up - we're in a fixed location. We could invest in yet more gear that daisy chains modems to create the all important bandwidth needed for true mobile but that also brings problems like - who humps the gear? Facebook Live dispenses with all those necessities. And it's brilliant.
Earlier today I caught a couple of shows that Om Malik recorded live. They were exactly what I was hoping for. High quality, acceptable audio and video recorded off an iPhone and streamed live to Facebook. For free. Om chose to stay behind camera and focus on his subjects. We also engaged in some useful back and forth on the topics. I can see that extended to open Q&A. Simple and easily digestible.
Lens attachments that allow for widescreen and telephoto are widely available for iPhone, so there is no reason to believe you could not set up what amounts to a single camera 'studio' for pennies on the professional studio dollar. Now take that to the brand manager. Here's a few ideas that popped into my head.
- Imagine for example the launch of a new product. How cool would it be to roam around a show floor stand and get instant live via iPhone?
- How about if several people were tasked to do the same thing simultaneously?
- Extend that example to getting instant reactions from a keynote speech - how much immediacy would that add?
- Earlier in the evening I pinged my brother who hand crafts high end ukuleles. I suggested he might want to show aficionados some behind the scenes live takes of processes involved in the creation of each masterpiece.
- Instead of the podcast, how about a quick video when I visit a customer? The iPhone and a small bag of accessories combined with Facebook Live make these opportunities easy to understand.
Now - wrap all these thoughts around meaningful campaigns that can be published to brand pages and embedded directly onto websites and you can readily see the prospects for great distribution. To give you an idea how this might work, here is a short video I shot from my iPhone that provides an instant tour of my office/studio.
Posted by Den Howlett on Wednesday, 6 April 2016
I see this as the start of what is possible. Right now, Facebook Live doesn't include the inevitable ads that Facebook will want to attach to these media. I'd like to see Facebook get creative around this with models that might, for example, include the ability to add subscriptions where Facebook acts as the monetization, payments and collections platform. How about categorizing so that video ads are clearly distinguished from the editorial style of content? What about captions and lower thirds?
As I said earlier the potential to make high quality productions while at the same time ensuring simplicity is exciting. Are you on board?