You may have noticed posts in your Facebook feed lately that say, “So-and-so was live.” Within the last couple of months, Facebook has rolled out a new feature that lets you push a button to broadcast live from your mobile device. Until very recently, the feature was available for your personal page only, but this week the little live icon popped up on my official page.
Real-time broadcasts have been around for quite some time, but until very recently, few people knew about it. Meerkat introduced its Twitter-feed broadcasts at SXSW last year, and Twitter promptly destroyed it by releasing Periscope right after. Since then we’ve seen a growth in the market for live broadcasting and the ways you can do it.
Here are four ways, old and new, to share real-time video with the world.
Although Periscope is just over a year old, it’s already a staple. You need the Periscope app and a Twitter account, and you just push a button and start speaking to the world. People can view your feed and send comments as well as little hearts to show affection.
I jumped into Periscope right away when it first released, and I decided I’m not a huge fan. First, I don’t necessarily like the one-way communication. I find myself staring at the camera on my phone and blabbering on. When people ask questions or come on, I give shoutouts. But for the most part, I would think that I’m pretty boring.
And speaking of boring, I quit watching Periscope the day that a woman was scoping while grocery shopping with her kids, and about 60 of us were with her as she picked out cereal. Really? People were giving advice on brands and she was just talking out loud to herself (to us, really) about her groceries. Another mind-numbing stream showed a famous tech blogger working on a story. So about 140 people were watching this man silently type and stare at his screen. Come on.
Another challenge that I’ve had with Periscope in particular was with trolls. Trolls are horrible people who hang out on social media sites and make it a point to get under other people’s skins. Once I was broadcasting an awards ceremony where a college student was receiving accolades. One of the guys on the Twitter feed started saying cruel things about this beautiful student’s appearance, and I quickly shut the stream down. Who the hell would do that?
On the positive side, I’ve seen people’s streams from breaking news sites, like when a building was on fire in NYC. I’ve also seen people stream a speech by President Obama or give meaningful feedback on current events. And then there are the guys who stream on their commutes to work and say absolutely nothing of substance. Meh.
Even though Facebook Live is similar to Periscope in that it’s basically a one-way communication, I see more potential there. First of all, you’re broadcasting to your own peeps, which hopefully means that you won’t have random trolls saying horrible things. Second, I love that Facebook is so proud of this feature that your video will pop up on the top of your friends’ feeds, even when the live part is finished. Now that they’ve opened the door to the professional pages, this increased exposure will be helpful for reaching your audiences.
Google Hangouts has a cool setting that lets you broadcast a video conference live to YouTube, and YouTube itself has a live broadcast feature. This means that you can share your panel discussion of industry trends with your membership base, or even broadcast your family reunion to the people who couldn’t make the trip.
Blab may be one of my favorite new social media tools. When you start to stream, you can invite up to three other broadcasters to jump on, forming a panel of four for discussions, debates and more. When I was stranded at the Newark airport during January’s blizzard, I stumbled upon a Blab where a couple of website experts were giving live reviews of sites. When it was my turn for a review, I was the third of the four video windows, and they pulled up my site on the last one. A whole host of people tuned in to see the experts tell me what they liked and didn’t like about my site. The experience was fun, interactive and educational, and you literally feel the love as people throw hearts your way while you’re talking.