August 22, 2017

Social Media Goes Live

By Alistair Pitkin Performance Account Manager

Alistair Pitkin

Alistair Pitkin

Performance Account Manager

Many brands share live content across a range of platforms using it to drive better brand exposure

Alistair Pitkin, Performance Account Manager, explains how social media is going live.


The concept of live video streaming within social media has been around for a few years now, with Periscope being one of the first to market with their live video offering in 2015. Periscope was acquired by Twitter before they had even publically launched their product, which signalled the start of what was to come. Today, almost all of the other major social platforms have developed video sharing products, such as Snapchat’s Stories, Facebook’s Live Video & Stories, Instagram’s Stories and YouTube’s Live.

Consumers have embraced sharing video content, with Instagram Stories seeing over 200 million daily users globally within just 8 months of the service being launched (Instagram, April 2017). Despite the plethora of very similar products, they continue to have different uses & users on the different channels. Snapchat Stores are popular with younger consumers and are often used as a way to save content. Instagram has a wider base of users and is deployed as a way to reach a larger audience as content is more discoverable since Stories have been made searchable.

Recently however, as has been widely publicised in the press, there have been a number of incidents of users live streaming inappropriate content. Having promoted their live streaming so heavily in recent months, Facebook have come under question by some for failing to react to content quickly enough. They have responded by announcing that they will hire 3,000 more moderators in an attempt to take down inappropriate content more quickly. This will increase their moderation team by two thirds, showing that they are taking the issue seriously. With revenue from video content being so key to Facebook, it has come as no surprise that they are acting quickly and decisively to resolve this issue and maintain their integrity as a wholesome platform for advertisers to engage with consumers on.

However, the complexities don’t stop there. Live videos also have an inherent risk of something going wrong, with potential for technical difficulties and content being shared that is not in line with brand images initially meaning that only more adventurous brands were willing to try it. Today, many brands share live content across a range of platforms using it to drive better brand exposure, share richer content and better interaction with customers. Whilst some advertisers have taken this up, it is often still viewed as a novelty or a nice to have rather than a core part of marketing strategies due to the limited reach on most social channels.

Several platforms are in the process of creating tools to increase the reach of live streamed content, such as Facebook’s Live video scheduling & and pre-broadcast lobbies which help to increase awareness about a planned live video and build up an audience before it begins. But most of these tools focus on increasing the reach of live streams amongst existing fans of the brand. No platforms have yet come to market with a developed ad product that can help to put significant reach behind live videos. Both Instagram & Snapchat have monetised their Story features by displaying adverts between streams, but these are often being used by brands to share normal video content rather than live content, meaning that brands can only reach their existing followers.

As social media goes, Live Video has been watched with much trepidation and intrigue from advertisers and agencies alike. I can certainly see the potential there in the future but until the platforms step up their targeting and brand sensitivity, there will be barriers to entry. Some may view Live Video as a ‘flash in the pan’, some may view it as ahead of its time; personally I believe it will develop and morph into something more until the social platforms find the best way to monetise this product.