Last week Periscope released its first set of detailed user numbers. These revealed that 10 million accounts had been set up since the app launched in March 2015, and almost 2 million people were using the app every day. Streaming their lives live, for people to watch and comment on.
We’ve seen the rise of image and video in social media for some time – as devices and network connections become more able to allow people to communicate in ways that are more natural to them, maybe, than text. Snapchat ushered in a rise in ephemeral images and video – people sending content that is designed only to be consumed in the moment. Again, reflecting better the way we like to communicate.
Now with the likes of Periscope and Meerkat, we are able to get even closer to what feels like a natural way to share opinions, ideas and our lives with others, by allowing them to share in what we are seeing or doing, at the same time as we are seeing or doing it. And on Periscope alone, 2 million people are sharing part of their lives every day; and 40 years worth of live streams are being watched every day.
Of course, people have been recording and sharing their lives via webcams for many years. But these broadcasting apps are different – they can be used for more throwaway experiences rather than something that seems important enough to record and upload for posterity. And that is why we should expect to see the number of live broadcast apps grow, and the number of people using and sharing their lives via them to grow too.
Text has always been a more involved way of communicating – sometimes it is fit for purpose, but sometimes video is better, and sometimes video that is live and brings people into our lives is even better still. So as these apps become more numerous and their use grows we should also expect to see a shift away from other ways of sharing and engaging people in our lives. Twitter may lose the importance it maybe once had in that role – evolving into something else and having to deal with the challenges of consumers changing how they use the network and the value they see from it.
Overall, with anything digital or social media, it is important to remember that the way we all interact and communicate is changing. As new apps and new technologies emerge, we will see real changes to how we use ones that have been around for some time. We should expect to see a trend towards ways of sharing (and sharing in) our lives that are more natural and closer to what we would want to do face-to-face. And the emerging popularity of live video broadcasting is showing just that.