Facebook has been pushing live video pretty hard since early 2016 – and with a few recent changes to how it works and who can use it, this feature is right on the brink of looking a whole lot different.
The short version is that you can now share live video from your desktop, no handheld device required. If you want to just sit at your desk and fire up the camera on your laptop, you can go live!
The longer version, though, is that this is just one part of the equation – this and other changes add up to kind of a dramatic change of direction for this feature.
What’s it all mean for you and your Facebook habits?
Let’s take a look!
…and not just for the reasons you may think!
Because on the one hand, of course Facebook wants live video to be popular – but until now, it’s been only under very specific circumstances.
By spending a ton of money in 2016 incentizing big media companies to share live video, Facebook ensured that a lot of quality content was created using the feature. Sites like BuzzFeed, for example, have used it for everything from viral stunts to interviewing the President of the United States.
Even as live video rolled out to more users, it was a mobile-only feature, encouraging users to get up from their desks, shoot on the go, and focus on creating better-looking broadcasts. (After all, the built-in camera in a Macbook doesn’t even shoot at the max resolution of a Facebook live video.)
Now that you can broadcast on desktop, it’ll be a lot faster and easier to open up Facebook and share a simple, straightforward confessional-camera style video. (Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing – a lot of professional, well-lit YouTube stars have proven just how much you can do with the right setup!)
That’s not the only big change coming to Facebook live in 2017, either.
While live broadcasts used to be exclusive to Page admins, Pages will now be able to give designated “Live Contributors” the ability to go live without having to hand over admin access.
(So they can go live, but they can’t change the company’s profile picture to a photo of former US President Rutherford B. Hayes. Which is a very real concern.)
The restrictions on who can go live on Facebook and when are tumbling down fast – and that could have a huge effect on how people use this feature altogether!
According to a report by Recode, Facebook isn’t necessarily pushing live video to publishers the way it did in 2016 – and some of the publishers who’d been paid to use and popularize the feature wouldn’t necessarily accept an offer to continue doing so, saying that putting together professional broadcasts took too much time and effort.
Now that going live will require a lot less of those two things, it might lose a little bit of its prestige – but it could gain a lot of popularity at the same time.
Consider one of Facebook’s other major upcoming changes to live broadcasting: the ability to share live audio. It’s another way for live broadcasting to become more accessible, and to cater to as wide a variety of content creators as possible – not just those with the means and the time to shoot professional-grade video.
Now that going live is about to be easier than ever – and offer more options for creators – a format that hasn’t always necessarily been a big draw for a lot of users could suddenly become a lot more popular.
In 2016, putting together a live broadcast meant giving someone else admin access to your Facebook Page and shooting on a handheld device – now, all a person needs is Live Contributor access and a laptop with a camera. (Or even just a microphone.)
It makes sense that as Facebook spent a year or so hyping the feature as much as possible, they’d want the live content being produced to have a certain style and level of quality. (It’s telling that they’ve also recently started cracking down on the visibility of graphics-only broadcasts, like countdown clocks.)
Now that live broadcasting is well-established as a feature to be reckoned with – to the extent that it’s also now available on Twitter and Instagram – Facebook is laying off on the restrictions and encouraging as many types of content creators as possible to give it a whirl.
Which brings us to the big question…
Now that Facebook allows you to broadcast live right from your web browser, are you thinking of giving it a try?
Or are you worried that making live broadcasting so accessible might lead to a glut of content?
We want to know what you think – so share your thoughts in the comments below!