If you spend hours navigating various social media platforms —and that’s all of us, really — you may have noticed something oddly familiar. All of them — Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram — have been quietly rolling out features that push you to go live and share your experience with the world.
The latest is Instagram’s update to its stories feature, which lets you go live from any location, and as soon as you are done, the video disappears. “When you’re done, your live story disappears from the app, so you can feel more comfortable sharing anything, anytime,” the photo sharing app said in its blog, earlier this week. The feature is yet to be rolled out to all regions.
But the question begging to be asked is: why has video suddenly taken over words, even as little as 140 characters?
The answer lies in numbers. According to Facebook, users are already watching 100 million hours of video per day on the social media platform. And that’s just Facebook. As of March 2016, over 200 million broadcasts have been created on Twitter’s Periscope. According to a 2015 report by Cisco, video content will account for 80 per cent of global internet traffic by 2019.
Don’t be surprised if, someday, all you see are videos on your social media feeds, instead of personal status updates.
The lure of live
For decades, television has taken us closer to live action: be it sporting events, the Gulf War, or the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai. Now, with the way social media is influencing our consumption, the live action is slowly shifting online. Take, for instance, Cheddar, an online news start-up that’s betting big on Facebook’s live feature. Every day, its anchors go live from the New York Stock Exchange floor, with the latest news on business, technology, and start-ups. Think of it as an informal CNBC for millennials.
Globally, Buzzfeed is a leader in video content creation. In April this year, the web publishing giant made a video of two employees trying to make a watermelon explode with rubber bands. And at one point, more than 8,00,000 people were watching it live on their phones and desktops. Another video that went viral was of a police officer talking a man down from an attempted suicide, somewhere in the US. Posted by NowThis, a video network for the mobile generation, it got 46 million views.