Yes, we’ve always been able to post links to videos, but that’s not the real issue. The issue is the definition of the word video, at least in a social media and social networking context.
Video, to social media audiences, is live and in-the-moment. After the moment has passed, forget about it. We’re talking yesterday’s news. Call it what you will, but for all intents and purposes, it’s over. Done like dinner. Time to move on. And move on they do, to the next live video. Repeat ad infinitum.
There are many reasons for this.
First of all, the cost of producing live videos and the technology to deliver them has morphed from forget-about-it to what-am-I-waiting-for. Not long ago, I had to look into streaming options for a medical conference. Instinctively, my first calls were directed to video producers, all very agreeable, and sadly all-too-expensive. Desperate for alternatives, I began to look at social-media options such as Periscope and Snapchat. Being somewhat of a traditionalist, I was at first mortified by the quality of what would be generated (we’re talking video shot by the camera in your smartphone after all). I was also discouraged by the fact that, in the case of Periscope for example, the recordings could not easily be archived – fading away after 48 hours, never to be seen again.
Before folding the tent however, a colleague convinced me to look at Facebook Live. Facebook Live is not fully implemented on the Canadian side of the border as yet, but the technology is more-or-less in place. I could broadcast our recording live, make it accessible as a link in our Facebook timeline and then leave the links as archived recordings for later viewing.
It was decided. The conference proceeded and Facebook Live was used to capture it.
Now don’t get me wrong. What we shot was no Hollywood-production for sure. We set the phone up on a little stand. Conference visitors walked in and out of the view constantly. The video was grainy and totally amateur. After the event, I braced for what I thought would be harsh words and hysterical laughter. Surprisingly however, none of that happened. In fact, several of the viewers who watched the event on Facebook had nothing but words of thanks for making the event available to them. Wow.
What did I learn from this experience?
First of all, videos broadcast in a social media context do not have to be award winning productions. Far more important to the audience is the ability to experience and interact with an event in real-time (seen visually in the form of floating emojis and short captions). It can even be said that monitoring other people’s reactions to an event is in many instances as entertaining as the event itself.
I also learned that for social media audiences, yesterday’s broadcasts are of little interest. Oh sure, some events definitely need to be recorded and saved for posterity, and in those instances one shouldn’t hesitate to reach out to a professional videographer. But for most, interest levels are piqued during an actual broadcast. Tomorrow, or even five minutes from now, some other live event is going to be more of a draw. To hold attention in this new reality, you simply have to keep broadcasting.
For brand managers and advertisers, this is especially profound.
Ramp up your communications productivity or be forever cast to the wastelands.
Facebook, who I previously mentioned was still in the process of ramping up its video strategy, has been particularly provocative of late. They see the whole issue of live video as being in the beginning stages. They feel, and who are we to argue, that live video will soon become the dominant messaging medium in the social media world. In five years they say, video will completely replace the written word. It’s all very mind-boggling, but likely true. If one is inclined to apply Moore’s law, chances are the wholesale migration to live video will take place even sooner.