An encouraging first year for Facebook Live

Posted on April 7, 2017

 

Facebook may not get everything right, with its newly introduced Stories feature already being widely lampooned, but one offering that does appear to have been a hit is the opportunity to share live video on the social media platform.

Facebook Live celebrated its first birthday yesterday and, according to company Head of Video Fidji Simo, a fifth of videos that appear on Facebook are now filmed and streamed live. Furthermore, the amount of time Facebook users are spending watching these videos has increased more than fourfold over the past year.

Live streaming has always been a tough nut to crack for the digital era giants, with some in the industry surprised it has taken this long to really catch on, but these statistics suggest that Live is perhaps one of the more fruitful introductions made by Facebook in recent years, as it looks to keep its nearly two billion users (double the number it had just five years ago) happy.

Why has Facebook Live worked?

Facebook remains the go-to social media platform for most people, but its popularity has also created some problems for it in terms of staying fresh and appealing to young people. The age group with which it is now most popular is those aged 25 to 34, making it arguably more the Generation Y social media site than the millennial’s choice. Indeed, one report suggests that three million teens left Facebook between 2011 and 2014.

Compare this to Snapchat, for which 60% of users are under the age of 24. Just 2% of Snapchat users are over 55, giving the platform the added allure to young people that the place is largely parent-free, reducing the risk of those slightly embarrassing moments that can crop up once your mum learns how to use Facebook:

Facebook, understandably, wants to keep itself in tune with what young people want from social media, and the main way it’s gone about this in recent years has been to repeatedly attempt to ‘be like Snapchat’. At times, it’s come across as a bit desperate, and though it’s still early days for Stories, immediate take-up of the feature appears to have been sluggish.

However, perhaps the route to youngsters’ hearts is through the ability to show off what they’re doing there and then. When Facebook Live was first trialled among American iPhone owners in early 2016, Facebook discovered that a staggering three quarters of the people using it were still at school or college. Finally, has Facebook found a way to get into young blood?

Live has great business potential too. Those amusing workplace moments and office party shenanigans can be captured, shared and enjoyed by users of the most popular social media site as and when they happen, allowing for fantastic exposure and interaction.

Social media, as Twitter realises with its ‘It’s what’s happening’ tagline, is all about what’s going on here and now. Facebook Live encapsulates that, opening up huge opportunities in an era when, quite simply, we’re just not prepared to wait.

Content Team Leader at Engage Web
John works for Engage Web as a Content Team Leader and regularly contributes to the website and programmes of his beloved Chester F.C.
John Murray
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