Facebook just announced the ability for Messenger users to quickly snap up a live stream to their friend without leaving the chat window. Sound familiar? Well video calls aren’t exactly new technology. It’s a feature that needs time to show its usefulness.
On the surface it seems like a slight tweak on what you were doing before. I mean, they already had video calls and text conversations. Now you can text message and live stream at the same time, but there’s more going on than a design modification.
The reason people don’t use Siri much is because they don’t want to look crazy talking to a computer in public. A similar effect takes place if you wanted to stream a video of a new dress you’re trying on at the store to your friend (as I clearly have wanted to do so often…). It’s awkward for some to have a full on live video call in those cases. This allows you to be silent and text while sharing the video live.
However, the questionable part to me is do text and video actually mesh? The big benefit of text conversations is that they aren’t always “live”, which creates the need for images or recorded video in chat conversations. People are often multi-tasking and taking their phone in and out of their pocket or purse in between messaging.
To contrast the “when I get to it” mentality, streaming live video while texting means you need to be fully present and staring at your phone. If that’s the case, why not have a regular video call or phone call? A question not easily answered.
But like Facebook claims, there could be use cases, and it follows a trending movement away from broadcasting everything.
A Shift from Open to Private Social Networks
This app update emphasizes a gradual shift toward more private social networks. We started out with phone calls, text and email, then semi-private networks like Facebook for our friends, then people got excited about Twitters broadcast and reach, then live streaming video to anyone in the world was possible! What a world we live in. You can’t get much more open than that.
Live video broadcasting has taken off because of technology advancements, but there’s a struggle for mass adoption. Does the general user have enough to say on a regular basis that the world finds interesting? I don’t think so.
Hence, the growth of Snapchat, which is often for your close friends or directly to 1 or 2. These friends enjoy, or at least tolerate your everyday verbal diarrhea. Random guy number 4324587 down in South Carolina doesn’t care (good on you random guy, you have better things to do than worry about my lunch choice).
I think Facebook knows this. That’s why they’re making bigger movements on messaging and private live video. My assumption is that more people are willing to whip out a live video for their best friend when they’re drunk and singing karaoke to the Backstreet Boys at their 10 year grad anniversary than broadcasting it globally.
I don’t have any numbers to back it up – Facebook might, but people have had their fun with big broadcasting. I think many are now connecting with smaller networks of friends for the silly, fun, fascinating and unimportant everyday stuff.
If people are going more private for social interactions, content marketing is going to have to change as well. We need to build deeper, more direct connections with our audiences – using email lists, text messages, or growing your Snapchat followers. Not as easily done as a Twitter follow, but essential.