Friday, 27th January 2017

The death of live tweeting

It wasn’t long ago that live tweeting was the ideal way to let your social media audience know what was happening at live events or a press launch. It offered audiences a quicker source of information than traditional PR and allowed more people to contribute with broadcast mediums, such as TV or radio. But is live tweeting now being overtaken by live social media video broadcasts?  

Facebook Live, Periscope for Twitter and YouTube Live, are further evolving how we consume real time information. I believe we are in the midst of a video evolution! Long before any news station reveals a big ‘breaking news story’, or even quicker than someone can explain what is happening on Twitter in 140 characters, somebody on scene will be live streaming their view online. Due to the virality of some live feeds, videos such as these can often amass millions of views within minutes.  

Added to the instant delivery of this content, is the benefit of audience interactivity. People on the other side of the world are able to consume and engage with live video instantly. They can ask questions to the owner to better understand the environment in which the live stream is being broadcast and become fully immersed in the experience. Video is no longer just something you watch; it has become a form of experiential dialogue taking place in ‘real time’, all over the world.  

If video is the future of live experiential sharing, what does this mean for traditional tweeting and other first generation social media tactics? Well that’s never actually been questioned because there is a really important distinction to be made between traditional social media marketing and new live streaming.  

In the digital age, social media is quickly becoming a central part of integrated marketing campaigns for an increasing number of brands. Content is becoming more planned, strategised and targeted, and traditional messaging is now being supported by high quality images and scheduled video content. As a result, social media marketing is achieving tremendous levels of success globally, with market leading engagement results being reported in a wide variety of sectors.  

So what does the future hold? Well without doubt live video has changed the social media landscape irrevocably. What’s more, it is highly addictive and shows no signs of slowing down. I find it fascinating that you can be heading to bed in the UK, and get a live insight into somebody else’s experience on a beach in Hawaii. However, where live video streaming really comes into its own and adds value to the wider communications mix, is in completely unplanned situations, when huge and unexpected events occur. We no longer have to wait for these situations to be broadcasted from a news helicopter for us to see them. Instead, we can experience these moments first hand from the mobile devices of people physically there.  

This new level of live communication is bound to make some people uncomfortable, but actually isn’t it just a development of the text based tweets or Facebook updates that we already had? In many ways by consuming and experiencing events through the eyes or mobile phones of others, we are learning and preparing ourselves first hand for those events potentially happening to us. It is my view that it is a positive development. The challenge is for marketing professionals to leverage the technology as part of their wider social media strategy.  

There will always be people who misuse the technology and perhaps there needs to be tighter regulations outlined, particularly with reference to ‘permissions to film’. But at least with live video we can see what is happening ourselves. Nothing is edited out. What we see is accurate, truthful and real. What’s more, with traditional live tweeting, events are open to the personal interpretation of the author, which cannot always be accurate.  

Does the rise of live video mean the death of live tweeting? No not yet. But without doubt, video is now the quickest, most accurate form of live content available and an extremely popular way for audiences to consume information. As long as it is done without malice or for sensation, I can only see this communication medium developing further over time. 

David Leatham

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