Live Streaming and the Demand for Now

blogLive video has been something reserved only for significant occasions in the past, whether it be a big TV event or an important news story. This is all changing now as social media gives the power to the people and makes it easier than ever to broadcast without a TV deal.

So where are we currently? It seems all the giants have joined the party now – YouTube is the latest to jump on board by adding the ability to live stream directly from your phone. It’s important to note here how different YouTube’s audience is to Facebook and Twitter’s – subscribers on YouTube are there predominantly to watch videos, and considering YouTube’s experience within video in general, it will be interesting to see how these two compete most of all.

Tumblr on the other hand seems to have taken a slightly different route by allowing third-party apps to stream live video straight to its service. A very open-minded approach that bears witness to the fact that social is embracing the live streaming movement.

 

Real-Time Marketing

So what does this movement mean for brands? In an age where we have access to an overloading amount of content, content marketing is taking a new form – “real-time marketing” will now gain a larger footprint than ever before and the fundamental difference is the urgency it demands from viewers. This in itself is extremely valuable, considering the sheer amount of content we’re already drowning in. Viewers are also less critical and less demanding when it comes to live video. The fact that it’s live is the biggest factor and it doesn’t play out the same way when you re-watch a video that was originally live. Therefore, viewers end up chasing the video as soon as they’re notified of the stream, instead of “saving it for later”, which in turn also eliminates the potential for it to be lost in the billions of hours of content it’s directly competing with.

 

Quality Control

I’d also say the whole removal of picture-perfect images that Snapchat brought to the table has eased us into live streaming our own content – it may not be perfect, but who cares? You can now also broadcast live to Facebook from MSQRD, which is extremely Snapchat-like. So will the fact that absolutely anyone is now able to stream their lives have an effect on the overall quality of this type of content? Compared to the quality control TV has had over the years, it’s almost non-existent on social media. Time will tell if we want to see our friends live stream themselves doing nothing or whether a stream needs more of a purpose.

All things considered, live streaming will soon be a standard form of expression via social, much like it’s become a standard form of communication over the years with Skype and FaceTime. It’s time for brands to take a good look at their strategy and embrace the live streaming age that’s only going to grow from here.

 

 

Get Ready for the Bots – on Facebook Messenger

2Facebook Messenger was released 5 years ago and now has over 900 million users. Originally receiving a flood of negativity towards a standalone messaging app, compared to one simple Facebook app, users seem to be warming to it. The decision to make it standalone does make a lot of sense, since messaging is a big part of people’s lives nowadays and Facebook even bought the domain messenger.com to launch a version for web browsers last year. Their 900 million users will more than likely be merged with Whatsapp’s 1 billion users, which means that Facebook will have the personal phone number of every single user – sounds like $19 billion well spent.

 

Open for Business

So that’s humans covered. Where to go next? Facebook is now venturing into their next Messenger-based project: bots. If you haven’t been keeping up, Facebook launched Messenger Platform last month, which holds within it, chatterbots. Luckily, these bots are not machine learning bots, such as the disaster that was Microsoft’s Tay. They do have some humorous replies if provoked but they ultimately steer the conversation back to the subject they’re designed to cater for. Thanks to their highly advanced Send/Receive API, these bots are able to reply with actual structured messages, including links, images, hotel reservations, the weather etc. You may immediately compare this to Apple Siri, Microsoft Cortana, Google Now and Amazon Echo, but what sets bots on Messenger apart is the fact that businesses can develop them, which in turn gives them another way to develop customer service. Simply put, bots could end up changing the world by replacing humans in such job sectors. Without the bespoke customer service integration that Messenger bots provide, the above voice-activated services will most likely not be able to solve business-related queries themselves. Having said that, the way bots behave is very reminiscent of the way Siri does. Maybe they’ll talk to each other one day and we’ll get the best of both.

 

Customer Service and Added Value

So how can these bots work for brands? Well, eventually, every major company in the world will have an account, which will be a first port of call when contacting their company. The reason this is almost definite is due to Facebook’s already-mammoth-sized network of users. It doesn’t get any bigger than Facebook when advertising to individual people, so connecting Messenger bots (as customer sales reps, for example) is extremely attractive. Messenger codes, one of many things taken from Snapchat, will also make it easier for businesses to connect with their customers. One industry example is how bots will almost certainly change how banking works for the consumer, replacing an app or web-based system with a dialogue with a machine that is able to understand your every need. The option to send money within Messenger itself is highly likely too, like Snapchat allows. This could also eliminate the hassle of speaking to a bank’s voice recognition system when calling by telephone – no more time (and money) wasted by the dreaded “I didn’t catch that. Please try again.” These voice recognition systems are essentially bots done badly, but they’re based on voice, which is a lot more difficult to translate into zeros and ones. Plus, you cannot autocorrect your voice (yet). I can see this whole system being replaced by bots – it could even connect you to a human advisor with ease, as you’re most likely already using your phone. Even if you’re using the desktop version or Facebook Chat, I’m sure they’ll figure something out. Besides banks, what other markets will benefit from this? Restaurants, travel and possibly supermarkets with online shopping services are big industries for it to thrive. The healthcare industry could also be a large portion – Healthtap have already created their bot, which isn’t surprising considering one of the first ever chatterbots was called DOCTOR and simulated a psychotherapist. In fact, the potential amount of markets are endless for this stream of interaction – just like it is with human customer service.

 

At the end of the day, customers are moving towards messaging as their preferred choice of customer service. And as generations progress, it will no doubt become the standard – a phone call will most likely be reserved for long, meaningful conversations with friends and family, which in turn will add even more meaning to them. The phone call will no longer be taken for granted, but talking to robots will be.