Going Live: The Rise Of Visual Content Within Social Media

27 June 2016
Published: By: Chloe Mayo



Social media forms such as Facebook and Twitter are completely ingrained into our society. When done correctly, social media is responsive to the needs of its users. We are constantly demanding more, wanting easier navigation, better content, and instant access to the world around us. I’ll be honest, I’ve checked my phone around 36 times whilst writing this blog, not even with particular interest, but simply out of habit. The social platforms need to take advantage of our muscle memory and our innate need to be connected to other people by grabbing our attention right at the point of entry. The most obvious way to do this? Make everything bright, brilliant and big. Oh, and make it move.

With moving in mind, I’d like to draw your attention to an announcement Twitter made a few days ago, regarding the introduction of the application ‘Periscope’ to its users. Twitter has bought Periscope, a live streaming video platform which gives its users the chance to broadcast to their followers at no cost. By announcing Periscope’s integration, Twitter are playing catch up with Facebook, whose live feature was established in April of this year. The main principle of a streaming feature is to connect the user with their followers and friends in the most visual way possible. If a user chooses to use Facebook Live, for example, their friends will receive a notification that they are streaming, inviting them to watch and react to the live video with the appropriate emojis. Simple, right? Perhaps not. One problem that springs to mind when considering the live feature is wondering whether people will actually use it. A draw to social media is the anonymity and having the ability to choose the narrative which represents you online. The live feature may also have its users pondering ‘well, who would watch me?’ However, while the average Joe may not embrace the live features on social media, one can’t deny the appeal it would have for celebrities. The live features builds a metaphorical bridge between celebrity and user, bringing the star into the homes of those who look up to them. The famous user can be responsive to questions and comments that appear on the live video feed, making those who watch feel like they matter and like they’re making an impact.

It isn’t just celebrities who can use Facebook Live to reach their advantage. If you own a business with an active Facebook page, you could use the live feature to stream meetings, workshops, Q and A’s, anything that might spike an interest in your followers. Spontaneous streams can work in your favour also. In May, a Facebook Live video, affectionately dubbed ‘Chewbacca Mom’, went viral in a matter of hours and has since garnered nearly 160 million views. The star of the video, Candace Payne, has since appeared on chat shows and news reports, cementing her status as a viral star. With that much exposure to their live feature, Facebook should really be putting her on the payroll. In the video, Candace’s utter joy is delightful and infectious. The earnest quality of a spontaneous video is something that cannot be bottled or replicated in a pre-planned campaign, so don’t be afraid to try Facebook Live out and experiment for your company.

If you’re not fully sold on the live feature, Instagram is a great way to personalise your company and put a face behind the brand, particularly if your company likes to be visually interesting.

Where the sudden interest in live broadcasting may lie is with an application named Snapchat. With an estimated 150 million users, Snapchat has been quietly redesigning its composition to create an application visually flush with interesting content. Originally conceived and promoted as a photo messenger application, Snapchat has quickly taken on another life as an Instagram-esque platform that allows users to share photos, or ‘snaps’, which their friends can access for 24 hours before they disappear from their feeds. But what is it about Snapchat that appeals to a mass audience? Perhaps one can answer this question by simply looking at Snapchat’s famous users. Kylie Jenner, of Kardashian fame, treats the platform as a way to reveal her latest cosmetic products – and her consumer hungry viewers lap it up. Being part of a group which receives exclusive news and updates can’t help but make a person feel special, lip product enthusiast or not. Snapchat has recently acquainted itself with higher profile events, such as Fashion Week, in order to boost its reputation. At Fashion Week, Snapchat HQ gave users the chance to sneak backstage and experience what feels like an unrestricted view of the event. As I scan the Snapchat app now, there are many options to view. I have the choice to see what is happening live at the Euro’s, or to partake in Buzzfeed’s latest quiz begging me to find out what kind of fruit I am, or to read The National Geographic’s sweet article celebrating International Giraffe Day. The app offers such a wide selection of options which will likely gain the interest of at least one of its users, guaranteeing that Snapchat will never be stagnant.

Snapchat’s need to move away from uninspiring content is not unique, and is reflected on other social media platforms as well. After years of the lone ‘like’ button, Facebook have recently implemented a ‘react’ button, which allows its users to choose an appropriate emoji for the post they are acknowledging. Not only that, but I’ve recently noticed that Facebook have included a gif feature in their messenger app. Since that discovery, I have had entire conversations using gifs from Friends, making plans and asking questions through animations of Joey Tribbiani. It wasn’t the most illuminative conversation I’ve ever had, but it’s fun. It’s quirky, it’s different, and the popularity of the feature is most certainly going to influence the visual content found on the primary Facebook feed from now on. The increased visual content on our newsfeeds help to disguise adverts, particularly those in video format, as they begin to blend in with the shared, non-ad videos cleverly.

It’s interesting to note that both Twitter and Vine have recently extended the caps they had previously enforced on the video time, perhaps to compete with Facebook’s more lenient video policy. Vine’s lift on the cap is a slightly more surprising announcement, as the video app’s niche is the short, six second videos that appear on the site. Although the original time limit remains, users can click a ‘see more’ button to access longer videos. The decision makes some sense when you consider Vine’s competition, but it still seems odd for the company to start moving away from the model that made it so successful.

It’s hard to believe that there was a time when social media didn’t document our history. Our Facebook pages will one day be obituries, the lasting legacy for generations to come. I hope my great-great-grandchildren don’t stumble upon my Facebook page and ask why this strange woman is dumping a bucket of icy water over her head for charity, but I digress.The ever-shifting paradigm of social media means that it is difficult to predict where the industry will be in even a few months from now. In five years, we could be swiping open a facebook message from a friend to find a hologram radiating from the phone screen. Do you think that visual content will soon be replacing the need for text on social media? If you’d like to know how Active Internet Marketing could help enhance your company’s social media use, live features or not, don’t hesitate to get in touch at 01604 765796.

Did you catch our latest blog post about the rising popularity of virtual reality? Take a look to find out how virtual reality technologies could change the face of digital marketing.




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