What’s new in social media?

What’s new in social media?

Spring has been a huge quarter within the social media realm, with a raft of big announcements coming out of Silicon Valley about new features and changing strategic directions. Video is by far the sector with the most activity, with both Facebook and Twitter aggressively attempting to position themselves as the market leader for online video and live broadcasting. It’s always a challenge to stay up to date with all the changes happening across the social networks, so we’ve put together a recap of some of the most important news and features to launch recently. 

Facebook Unveils a Stack of New Video Features     

In what’s fast becoming the hottest war within social, Facebook unveiled a range of new features for its video offerings in October. The biggest of these was the addition of a scheduling feature for Live broadcasts, complete with a pre-stream lobby for viewers.

Creators can schedule a Live broadcast up to a week in advance and users can choose to receive a reminder to alert them before the start of the broadcast. Viewers will then be able to join the pre-stream lobby three minutes before the start of a broadcast. The new scheduling feature also allows creators to share a link to the stream before it begins, expanding the ability to promote their live stream.

Facebook also recently added the ability to stream videos from Facebook to TVs using devices like Apple TV or Google Chromecast, a simple but important feature as they attempt to challenge YouTube’s stranglehold on traditional video content, which has long had this feature. This is currently available from desktop web browsers and iOS devices, and will be soon enabled for Android devices. 

Facebook also rolled out augmented reality filters during Halloween, giving users the opportunity to add themed masks to their faces during their Live broadcast. This is obviously nothing new for anyone on Snapchat but points towards further integration of filters and aug-reality features moving forward for Facebook video.

Finally, Facebook also announced the launch of spatial audio for 360 videos, which they explained in their announcement post:

“Think of spatial audio as 3D sound for 360 videos. It’s an immersive sphere of audio meant to replicate how humans hear sound in real life, but delivered over headphones. As audiences move around in a 360 video, the sound moves around with them, helping to place them in the context of the scene.”

Facebook is making a play for becoming the main content platform for augmented and virtual reality video, so this is an obvious but impressive step in creating a more realistic experience for users.   

Twitter Shuts Down Vine…

Twitter announced on October 27th that it had decided to shutdown Vine, the six second video app that pioneered the short form video format and GIFification of social media. While Vine’s cultural impact was undeniable, Twitter struggled to find ways to grow its user base or monetize the platform, which ultimately saw their large initial audience squandered, as competitors added features and attracted away its top content producers.

With Twitter currently undergoing some major internal changes (including recently announced layoffs of nine per cent of its workforce) and failing to find a buyer, Vine was an obvious target to call time on. The site will remain online for the time being, allowing users to download their videos before the official closure.

… and Expands Periscope

If Vine was Twitter’s past in the video space, there’s no doubt what the company sees as the future. Founded in March 2015, Periscope has been the largest player in live video with over 200 million live broadcasts and it’s firmly established itself as the sector leader, seeing off earlier competitors like Meerkat to reportedly reach 10 million users in August last year. Of course, Facebook also sees the potential of live video and threw its hat into the ring with the launch of Facebook Live in February. Twitter has not released any numbers on how much of an impact that event has had on it’s user base.

What it has done is worked to build features and retain its market leader status. With the launch of Periscope Producer on October 13th, the platform now offers broadcasters to live-stream high-quality video from devices other than a phone or tablet. This means that video creators can stream from external sources, such as streaming software or professional cameras. This will open the door to high-quality, multi-camera live broadcasting that will vastly improve the current quality of videos being confined to the limits of their phone’s camera and microphones. Periscope’s announcement of Producer showcased an impressive list of media and organisations already utilising the new software. 

It’s also taken care of the simpler but important steps around promoting the network, such as last month when Twitter added the ability for users to link their Periscope account to their Twitter profile, so that a link displays below a user’s bio.     

It will be fascinating to see what comes next in the social video war, as well as how other video platforms such as YouTube and Snapchat respond to these activities. Watch this space.

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