I’ve recently made 7 predictions of Snapchat’s future plans and upcoming updates but left out this one on purpose. It deserves its own special plaque on our blog.
Snapchat Live Video Streaming…just try to imagine that. Live broadcast feeds that any Snapchatter can access right from their screen. And no, this is not to be confused with a 24-hour Live Story, a crowdsourced collection of digital media from a specific location and duration. Also no, I’m not referring to Snapchat’s user-to-user video chat either. Think more along the lines of Periscope, Facebook Live, and YouTube Live—except not quite.
By introducing Snapchat Livestreaming, how will Snapchat do it better?
Integrating this feature for mass appeal will require the utmost social understanding.
Failure to adopt is simply not an option here. Snapchat, Inc. (now Snap, Inc.) will have to fire on all cylinders to make sure users continually enjoy it, brands are able to use it successfully, and advertisers can reap ROI without ruining Snapchat’s native 3V Advertising model—you know, the ad model that has helped Snapchat, Inc. reach a $20 billion valuation and caused an failed buyout attempt from social media competitor and giant, Facebook.
Snapchat ad revenues are forecasted to reach nearly $1 billion next year, guys.
Despite the disparities on what constitutes an “active user” or a “video view,” we can see that the United States monthly-active users will continually increase over the next few years before stagnating.
So what can Snapchat do to keep its growth from stagnating, especially when its strong value points are being copied left and right? And how can they keep current users in love with Snapchat while attracting new ones?
…ahem, Snapchat Live Video Streaming of course!
It’s not that simple though. I’ll show you precisely what I mean.
(More from our blog: 9 Creative Snapchat Ideas for Brand Marketing)
Countering Facebook’s “Instagram Stories” Copycat Maneuver
Social media platforms in general have shifted more and more towards video content. Even with the Instagram redesign, the influx of videos in Facebook feeds, the Facebook Messenger instant videos, and the obvious push towards Facbook live video streaming, Snapchat still wielded its oh-so-unique My Story and truly fascinating Live Story as primary components that bolster the Snapchat experience against its rivals.
My Story completely paved a new road as it allowed users to post their captured media for their friends to see for the next 24-hours, whereas prior hand, users could only directly send to each other. Its success illustrated a paradigm shift (especially with younger users) towards content spontaneity, nonchalance, and urgency, within the realm of digital media capturing + viewership.
Live Story was truly a new beginning for Snapchat. It engaged users and generated Snapchat, Inc. serious cash by incentivizing big-name brands to buy them out. These $750K bad boys get dozens of millions of views within 24 hours before disappearing. With their carefully curated approach to presenting an event/celebration/culture in the best authentic light, Snapchat has continuously sold these Live Stories with a handful of $400K 5-to-10 second Snap Ads sparingly inserted between images and videos.
Credit: Jessica Milcetich
While My Story and Live Story are what have made Snapchat so incredibly unique compared to other social media platforms and digital media-sharing applications, times have changed.
Facebook’s Instagram shamelessly copied Snapchat’s My Story (it's called Instagram Stories for Pete's sake) with minor tweaks and is already working on doing the same with Live Story. While copying each other is standard in the industry, this move may prove to heftily retain IG users who may have otherwise switched to Snapchat.
Some may argue that Snapchat’s Geofilters and Lenses make it distinctly better than Instagram’s "rip-off." Still, with Facebook’s acquisition of Msqrd and the company’s nearly-identical technology of Snapchat-acquired Looksery, things can easily change, again.
Snapchat needs to bring something extra to the table.
Snapchat is all about connecting people with raw, self-captured, first-person experiences.
So why not Snapchat Live Video Streaming? It fits into this mix perfectly—but with entering this space, there are the obvious competitors that Snapchat faces. An underdeveloped execution may result in a “decent” alternative in a saturated marketplace.
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Invading the Space of Periscope, Facebook Live, and YouTube Live
We know Snapchat is a leading mobile social media app for photo and video sharing.
With further inspection, we also can see that Snapchat has the social platform to make Live Video Streaming accessible, non-disruptive, better rolled out, and differentiated enough to be more desirable than alternatives.
While live streaming is nothing new (tons of live video desktop websites have come and gone), the rise of smartphone sales, better data plans, social media app popularity, and video capturing + viewership trends have made mobile livestreaming more popular than ever before. The mandatory desktop-webcam setup which had inhibited the on-the-go live adventure before, no longer stands.
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Users especially love live video streams for entertainment, breaking news, music events, friends’ live broadcasts, sporting events, and more. Sounds right up Snapchat’s alley, huh?
Even so, the competition has their feet in the door…way in.
Multiple Facebook updates have outlined this major shift towards live video. First, celebrities and big brand names were allowed to live stream. Then it rolled out to the rest of the public. Users now receive notifications for friends and Pages who are livestreaming. The livestreaming button got a larger placement on the app’s newsfeed, making it easier for any user to livestream when publishing a post…
• Then came Facebook’s most recent huge interface redesign: Live & recently live (recorded) vertical videos received their own separate feed in the Facebook app, replacing where the Messenger button had stood, thereby pushing the Messenger button to the top-left.
• A recent major update from Twitter, closely prior to Facebook’s update, put a “Live” button directly within the Tweet composer, making it much easier to livestream via Periscope directly from the Twitter app.
• YouTube, owned by Google, has featured livestreaming for years (note the “Live” indicator in search results) but has remained limited to big brand names and is more desktop-focused than mobile. Some fear it’s too late. Still, YouTube has announced that it will soon allow users to livestream directly from the mobile app, like that of Facebook Live and Twitter’s Periscope app. YouTube has even stepped into 360° live video recently.
Yahoo-owned social media platform Tumblr has hinted at livestreaming as well while Meerkat, the app that seriously broke the surface by bringing mobile livestreaming into the mainstream, has failed to compete against the bigger players we’ve seen.
So in summary, Facebook Live and Periscope have a serious foothold in the livestreaming market with YouTube Live holding some unseen potential.
Snapchat will need to be better—and different—just enough.
We already can live video stream directly to another Snapchat user, like we see in Facetime, but cannot livestream for an audience—or watch other live video feeds.
So what interface updates would the Snapchat app adapt, to make users adopt?
Copying the Copycat: Bring Back Snapchat’s Familiar “Circles” Interface
Remember the old Snapchat interface?
Live Stories received their own unique row of circle icons.
Then, the Discover channels were blended in and the circles suddenly became rectangles.
Not everyone was a fan of the change.
But then less than a year later, Instagram copied Snapchat with its most recent Instagram Stories update!
Here’s an idea:
Bring the circles back but better!
By executing an awesome response to Instagram’s slap-in-the-face emulation of My Story and Live Story, Snapchat can steal back its original interface elements with flashy finesse.
…Okay, so even if the circles don’t come back and Snapchat decides against cramming it into the “Stories” dashboard, they can still give it another slider—right past the Discover section, in all likelihood.
With my interface redesign speculations aside, the following points that I make remain unchanged.
Sponsored Live Video Streams
Users enjoy live video streams from popular figures, celebrities, brands, and events…just don’t overwhelm them. Snapchat incorporating sponsored live video will mean appealing to live brands, the viewing users, and possibly advertisers.
What does that look like, though?
An Extension of Snapchat 3V Advertising
Understanding Snapchat 3V Advertising is imperative to predicting future app updates that serve Snapchat, Inc. well. It’s feasible to think Snapchat may allot a given amount of hours to a select amount of brands each day, to sponsor their very own live videos.
The buttons/icons to access Sponsored Live Video Streams will be given prime “real estate” on the Snapchat dashboard, making easy access to millions of users each day.
Sponsored Live Video Streaming may even be broken down into geographic segmentation, allowing brands of different nations/regions/languages to segment for precise targeting and better engagement.
Similar to the non-profit Live Stories, Snapchat may do the same in live video. In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo shootings, we saw Snapchat bring in a non-commercial, non-lifestyle focused collection of media. Imagine live footage of news-breaking protests or crises broadcasted to appeal to the more socially-conscious Snapchat user. Or perhaps, we’ll also see lifestyle-focused live feeds from random users who get “gifted” by Snapchat with a sponsored-level broadcast?
Advertising within Live Video Streams will be difficult, if tackled at all. YouTube has made use of slate and ad insertion while Facebook Live has even tested out mid-roll ads for live videos...a form of advertising that doesn’t fit the “native” quality that 3V Advertising has continually embraced. However, the idea of Snapchat incorporating small banner ads or skippable Snap Ads for live videos may not be completely far-fetched.
Either way, the real money will lie in the Sponsored Live Video Streams themselves.
How Live Broadcasts Find Users in The UI: The 3-level Priorities
UI (user interface) design is crucial, especially when tons of ad dollars are involved. With Snapchat sponsored live videos, how will it be manifested in the Stories dashboard? Or if it gets its own designated slider, who will get more prominence?
Essentially, who gets more eyeballs?
The 3-level prediction: Sponsored Stories will be the first level, followed by friends, and then nearby users, which I’ll explain in a moment.
With a handful of Sponsored Live Video Stream “circles” at the top, it will give brands the eyeballs they want from viewers without being disruptive to the user experience. Following those circles, we’ll see the circles representing any Live Video Streams of the Snapchatter’s friends, giving the user’s livestream enough visibility in their friends’ screens without being overly invasive.
And lastly, with the third level, we’ll see nearby Live Video Streams…
Ushering in a New Era: World Map + In-App User Discovery
This is where Snapchat finally kills two birds with one stone.
In this new era of redefining Snapchat’s user experience, this major update would allow users to not only see nearby Snapchat live broadcast feeds, but easily open a mapping interface within the Snapchat app to browse the worlds’ live feeds—like that of Facebook Live map on desktop and the Periscope app. With this, in-app user discovery will finally arrive, which I'll explain.
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A Geographic Map to Access Global Live Video Streams
Snapchat does an amazing job of connecting users to each other with authentic, organic, first-person footage and pictures.
Snapchat “Live Video Streams” is an extension of that while a global map, on top of the easy-access to live broadcasts from friends, sponsored brands, and nearby users would propel its adoption.
By giving Snapchat users the option to browse live streams from around the world, it further advances Snapchat’s mission statement, while giving them the competitive edge against other social media platforms, namely Facebook (FB Live and IG Stories) and Twitter (Periscope).
But the mapping feature, as well as the nearby Snapchat live feeds, will add something else revolutionary for Snapchat users…
The Big Reveal: In-App User Discovery at Last
Alas, Snapchat users can be found within the app—a total game changer!
For all of Snapchat Inc.’s growth into the $20-billion company it stands today, Snapchatters have relied entirely on phone number exchanges, in-person Snapcode scans, coordinated ad-hoc syncing, My Story posts, friend recommendations, cross-promotion on other social media accounts, websites/blogs, a few apps, and other digital platforms to find and add users.
There is no current way to “discover” users directly within the Snapchat app—crazy to think about, right?
One could argue that that’s the point, though. The necessary phone number or Snapcode scanning keeps things more personal and genuine, to a certain degree. Still, the ability to actually discover and add users within the app will likely be favorable to most current and future users.
But how will they do it?
Live Video Streaming—both through nearby feeds and the global map!
This means going live on Snapchat will give other users the option to add you (a “username privacy” toggle switch can cater to those who want their account’s identity kept private). While watching any Snapchat Live Video Stream, you can simply hit some form of “add friend” button to send a request. Simple, yet ground-breaking.
By having in-app user discovery a part of the global mapping interface + nearby users, and sequentially, Live Video Streaming, all of the above will work together to create a fascinating new addition to the Snapchat user experience, a more diversified 3V Advertising model, and scary-competitive jab at Facebook and Twitter. Not only will it help retain Snapchat users from migrating away, but it may actually attract the regular Periscope and Facebook Live fans.
If done wrong, Snapchat Live Video Streaming will be a poor attempt to capture users' interest, all while deviating from the original brand experience.
If done right, Snapchat Live Video Streaming will give users the ability to livestream, watch broadcast feeds, and discover users, without taking anything away from its previous successful features (i.e. Live Story and My Story).
More mobile users are going live and tuning in.
Facebook and Twitter have caught on—soon Google will with YouTube.
Now Snapchat will need to make its mark…and make it last.