Facebook is adding a new feature that, if popular, could bring celebrities, users, and ad revenue back to its platform.
Most casual users think the great social media revolution is over. Silicon Valley has won the game. Everyone uses Facebook, Twitter, Vine, and Instagram for personal and business purposes. Readers can’t escape social share buttons, presidential candidates tweet constantly (Trump, we’re looking at you), and every kid under five has their full childhood documented on Facebook.
For the technology industry itself, the social experiment is really just taking off. Even though we all use social media, companies are having a very difficult time monetizing their services. Nobody wants to pay for services that used to be free, and new social media platforms are much more exciting than the now-blasé Facebook. And ad revenue is increasingly difficult to come by, especially in the age of ad-blockers.
Now Facebook, in order to combat other upstarts and sexier social media services, is releasing a new Live streaming service for iPhones. The move puts it into direct competition with Twitter’s Periscope, a similar service that beat Facebook to the punch. Both of these services are set to kneecap Meerkat, the first commercially successful Live streaming app.
That seems to be the trend of the social media giants these days. Let’s take a look at the unfortunate Meerkat, which is set to go extinct as collateral damage in this fray. Meerkat allowed users to Live stream their activities, and then connect those streams to both Facebook and Twitter. It achieved its first success at South by Southwest in March of last year, and grew from there. If it popped up about seven or ten years ago, it may have stood a chance. Instead, its model has been cannibalized by the two leading social sites.
Twitter’s similar project, Periscope, dropped soon after Meerkat. Twitter initially severely handicapped Meerkat by limiting its access to Twitter’s app analytics, and then acquired and released Periscope, which improved on Meerkat’s model by offering Live stream playback.
Now Facebook is giving Twitter some sweet, sweet karma; it’s releasing an even more improved model, which will catalogue Live streams as videos on a Facebook stream.
Facebook has experimented with Live streaming by giving celebrities, journalists, and other prominent users early access. Now it’s rolling out the feature for all iPhone users with a Facebook account.
It’s still early in this social revolution. Live streaming may be the feature that Facebook needs to reestablish itself as the populist king. Or, more likely, it’s another toy that users will play with for a few weeks, then discard for the next, more exciting social media craze. Of course, when that happens, Facebook and Twitter will follow, copy, and release their own bastardized versions.
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