Periscope was founded in 2014 under the name Bounty, and has been described by co-founder Kayvon Beykpour as an ‘Exploration in human anthropology’. Periscope’s website tells it’s users that it was ‘founded on the belief that live video is beautiful source of truth and connects us in an authentic way to the world around us’. In a world of corrupt media organisations, phone hackers, photoshopping and biased reporting, this rhetoric is powerful. Bounty was launched publicly in March 2015, now named Periscope and had been acquired by Twitter. The concept for the app was very simple: users can stream and watch live videos from any user on the app, and by embedding your live video into your tweet you can live stream to your twitter followers also. The concept was innovative and unique and gave Twitter an edge that no other social media platform, other than of course Periscope itself, offered their users. This simple and effective technology proved to be highly popular, Periscope had over 10 million accounts by August 2015, just 5 months after being publicly launched. In December of 2015 Apple named Periscope as it’s ‘App of the year’.
However, as always, it didn’t take long for social media giant Facebook to take note of Periscope and Twitter’s success and by January 2016 Facebook had integrated their own public live streaming feature: Facebook Live. The success of Facebook Live was immediate, which is unsurprising when you consider the fact that Facebook boasts that through Facebook Live you are able to ‘Broadcast to the largest audience in the world’; currently, the figures for active users on Facebook are 1.79 billion compared with Twitter’s meagre 313 million.
A study by Social Bakers suggests that Facebook Live is already more successful than Periscope, when comparing the usage of Facebook Live between January and September of 2016 across different types of social media users (Brands, Celebrities, Media) a steady increase can be seen.
Social Bakers compared the usage of Twitter and Facebook for the top 500 largest media profiles, and the results show that Facebook Live has grown massively throughout 2016. Media profiles are highly likely to want to use a live feature because as the nature of news is that it ‘travels fast’ and this is an incredibly fast way to tell a story. Additionally, by using Facebook over Twitter, media profiles will be able to reach the most amount of people instantly. The nature of using an app to go to live means that you can’t use another app to live-broadcast the same story; you could post the story to Twitter after it’s happened and you’ve broadcast it live to Facebook but the value of the story is lessened by the fact that it happened 10 minutes ago and wasn’t live. These factors could all contribute to the trend shown in Social Baker’s graph: Media profiles are using Facebook Live increasingly and Twitter’s ‘live’ growth has stayed comparatively low. The Guardian also reported that large media outlets such as The Guardian, The New York Times and Buzzfeed, have signed contracts with Facebook promising to produce live content for them.
As you can see from the graphs comparing Facebook and Twitter live-streaming with celebrities and companies there is a slight difference in the growth and decrease of usage. With celebrities, Facebook Live has always been dominating and continues to do so fairly steadily. However, there was no real decrease with Twitter usage. This merely suggests that celebrities tend to favour Facebook over Twitter in general, which is likely to be related to the number of users on each platform once again.
Perhaps the most interesting graph of all is the companies’ usage of Twitter decreasing and the favouring of Facebook Live beginning in April. There is a distinct change in the favouring of Facebook over Twitter. Again, it’s likely that this is to do with the amount of users to instantly reach on both platforms but another factor could be the presentation of videos after they have posted; Facebook show a users past live videos on their timeline alongside with all the other posts, however Twitter’s past live videos are not shown within the timeline. This means that companies may be favouring Facebook Live as once it has streamed a live post it can still be watched repeatedly.
These graphs show the data between January and September of 2016 but towards the end of 2016 Facebook launched a huge advertising campaign to show off it’s Live feature. Adverts for Facebook Live have been shown on huge screens on the side of shopping centres in Newcastle City Centre and on billboards in the London Underground. If you log on to Facebook you’re likely to be told, ‘Share your special moments! Go live!’. It is not through it’s own failing that Periscope is likely to be blown away completely by Facebook and it’s live feature – as happens repeatedly within the social media sphere, a small start-up has had a wonderfully ingenious idea and created a new way for people to communicate and share, only for the giants to snap up the idea and integrate it into their already successful app. Periscope’s only error is that they sold to Twitter, and not to Facebook.
We would love to hear your thoughts on live streaming and the competition between Facebook and Periscope.
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Written by Rose Iliff