Though Facebook regularly introduces new features to its platform, it certainly doesn’t give all of them the same level of attention. The social network giant often gets things right, however, particularly because it live-tests many of those features with groups of real people. For the past couple of years, one of the areas in which the network has been heavily invested in is video.
The mobile video market is continuously growing and Facebook reacted to that realization quite quickly. After establishing itself as a viable video platform, it started to take some of the focus away from YouTube though Google’s website is still miles ahead in the lead. Instead of focusing on the broad definition of ‘video host’, Facebook decided to turn its attention to more specific video niches. To be more precise, Facebook Live has proven to be one of the network’s biggest experiments.
Something that most people may not have actively thought about is the fact that Facebook does almost no advertising whatsoever. The social network is engraved in the minds of billions of people as well as their friends and family, even if they are not always a part of the network themselves. Its new features spread around through word of mouth and its active users, which number in the hundreds of millions, make sure that everyone knows about the latest trends.
With Live, however, Facebook did the unexpected. It launched its biggest marketing campaign to date, advertising on billboards, TV, and pretty much everywhere else. Its bus ads quickly showed the world how they could be a part of the Live video experience. Its TV ads showcased examples of live streaming, along with DIY instructions. Facebook really wanted people to use its Live features, which could only mean one of two things: either live streaming is set to become a massive success or Facebook is struggling to engage users with it.
The answer, of course, is up for debate. Live streaming is certainly not going anywhere but there are several caveats that prevent people from interacting too much with such features. Creating good content is a definite problem which cannot really be addressed from a technical standpoint, only a creative one. How do you get people to create fantastic videos, other than paying promoters and companies (which Facebook already does)?
To make matters slightly more complicated, Facebook announced today that it would be launching Live 360, a 360-degree version of its live streaming feature. With VR finally becoming a part of the mainstream and Facebook owning a piece of the pie through Oculus, this move is not surprising in the least. With that said, VR headsets will not support Live at this initial phase but will still be able to play standard 360 videos. The question of content, however, will now be more relevant than ever. Creating 360 videos requires an additional investment and only companies like Giroptic with its tiny iO camera seem to have any appeal in the mainstream audience, particularly for something like Live 360.
The key here seems to be the social aspect. YouTube is undoubtedly the king in the video hosting space but networks like Facebook is where many people actually interact with videos. The social network provides a platform from which you can reach an unrestricted amount of people in an instant. Whether people are willing to surpass the hurdles of Live 360 video or not remains to be seen. For now, you can watch the very first video of Live 360 which arrived from National Geographic at the Mars Desert Research Station.