Bullish on Facebook Live

One of the big announcements at F8 2016 was that Facebook is doubling down on Live. Keeping with the theme of “help anyone share anything with anyone they choose”, Live Video lends itself well to the way people share and experience snippets of each other’s lives.

Since the advent of the web, we have traded off personal and interactive experiences for time-shifted virtual ones.

* 10–15 years ago, we communicated exclusively via text. 
* Over the past 5 years, the focus has shifted to sharing our lives via photos (carefully curated expressions of our best selves)
* We are now making the shift back to more personal and interactive experiences. As recently as a year and half ago, the amount of live video creation and sharing has gone up, thanks in part to Mobile devices as well as well as a proliferation of live-streaming tools.

We are attracted to live video for its raw, unfiltered appeal plus its immediacy and ability to hook us emotionally.

Thus, the announcement that Live would get its own dedicated tab within the Facebook app, effectively displacing Messenger is a huge deal. Some of the pluses of this decision:

a) Increased Engagement — At F8, Mark Zuckerberg quoted a 10x increase in video views and comments for Live Video over other formats. Some of this may be able to be explained away by a looky-loo effect. i.e. if a certain thing is new, we’re naturally inclined to check it out but I’m not sure that completely explains it. Perhaps, this can be explained by the intensely personal nature of what’s being shared right now (ex: a sneak peek at a friend’s new baby) coupled with Facebook’s scale.

b) Increased Monetization — A dedicated video tab gives Facebook the ability to natively show you full screen video ads without it feeling out of place.

c) More Sharing — We’re sharing a lot more differently on Facebook than we did 10 years ago. Facebook itself is making the shift from being a symmetrical and identity based network to a place where you can follow interest groups and influencers and consume the content that they share (video being a huge part of this). This is the mobile-social equivalent of cable TV and I’m excited to see more than just AMAs, live music concerts, etc.

d) Setting the stage for more immersive video experiences in the future— Video consumption today is a lean back experience. Even present day Live Video serves as a proxy for the actual experience. We engage with the broadcaster via comments and reactions — both of which are poor substitutes for being there and experiencing it for ourselves. With 360 video and VR, video will be a true lean-forward experience. This more than anything excites me about the potential for Facebook Live.

The TV is dead. Long live the TV.

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