Lifecasting: Why are we obsessed with sharing?
In 2007, Justin Kan launched “Justin TV,” (now called Twitch), a website for distributing and viewing live-streaming content. He proceeded to use a camera mounted on his head to live-stream his entire life, 24 hours a day.
At the time, it seemed ludicrous that we would ever walk around with cameras on our heads, let alone be able to curate an audience interested in viewing the resulting content. Flash forward nine years, and we have cameras on our bikes, cars, phones and laptops. On top of this, video is expected to account for 69% of all online content by 2017.
And let’s not forget about the prevalence of image sharing platforms like Pinterest and Instagram, which allow us to regularly share visual life updates with our followers. In essence, we’re obsessed with sharing.
The growth of ‘over-sharing’
In the years since “Justin TV”, it was predicted that life-casting would envelope our lives and take over as the next social media trend. Although we are still a long way from broadcasting every moment of our day, the idea of life-casting has certainly gained momentum.
Life-casting (or Life streaming) refers to broadcasting one’s every movement (usually via video or live blog) over social media channels or on another video broadcasting device like Vimeo or YouTube. This is more than sharing news and current affairs or being active on social media- it’s real time content that carries a sense of immediacy that is irresistible to audiences.
In addition to the emergence of life-casting, we’ve seen a huge increase in the preference for video-based platforms like Snapchat (which now has over 2 million active users per day in Australia alone), Facebook Live, YouTube (over 14 million UAV’s) and now, Instagram Stories and Periscope.
The difference to Justin’s 2007 view of the future is that we are sharing more, but with fewer people. These video-based apps are a quicker, easier way to distribute content and share updates about our lives with a curated social network rather than a randomised audience.
Influencers & video-based sharing
As social media floods with brands trying to tap into new audiences, we’re looking more towards influencers rather than brands for opinions, advice and entertainment. Cue the rise of vloggers.
Vloggers are normalising life-casting by opening up public forums traditionally owned by brands, and turning everyday people into experts. An excellent example of this would be talented beauty bloggers and stylists, who are often completely self-taught. Take Michelle Pham for instance, the self taught beauty blogger/vlogger who has already earned over $3 million, has a makeup line with L’Oreal, and has published her own book.
What are the opportunities for brands?
Video-based social platforms can be hugely advantageous for some brands, particularly those in travel, fashion, beauty, art and design industries. 360-degree video, for example, has huge potential for travel brands and is already being utilised by Virgin Atlantic and Qantas.
Snapchat has released its “Discover” platform which can be used like a television channel to promote content from brands. Brands can also use location-based filters, sponsor an event, or simply cultivate their own account like they would any other social media platform.
As new video-based platforms take off, opportunities for brands can be slow to emerge. Brands need to be incredibly adept at navigating their way through an increasingly diluted social media landscape. Flexibility is key if brands are to adapt to new channels and explore news ways of engaging their audience through real-time video content.