The future of social media is authentic and live    March 27, 2017

On February 4, 2005, YouTube started a revolution by giving us a seemingly endless stream of content, on demand. You could watch videos by celebrities, tutorials by up-and-comers, or movie trailers released by studios. Over the years, videos continue to be released, creating new stars and streams of content from global contributors. But no more is YouTube the only major player in the game. With over a billion users generating billions of views and hundreds of thousands of hours of content watched, it is only natural that other players would want to capitalize on this captive and attentive audience. Social media giants Facebook and Twitter are getting in on the action by promoting real-time engagement video capability aimed at engaging the attention of global audiences.

When Facebook introduced their autoplay videos in 2013, the move brought about extensive negative press. The primary reason that people were unhappy with the capability is because the videos would not only autoplay without users requesting the videos to do so, but they would do so with sound. Unless your phone was muted, this led to potentially embarrassing situations where a video appeared in a feed and immediately began blasting content. To combat this problem, videos now feature text or captions – this has allowed the videos to capture the viewers’ attention, while still allowing them to absorb the content. This move to captions and text is significant, as approximately 85% of videos watched on Facebook are being done without sound. We are reverting back to the silent era – and it’s golden!

Not to be outdone or left behind, Instagram introduced its own live video capability, Boomerang. A stand-alone app, Boomerang allows the user to take 1 second videos and share to other social media platforms or individuals. Because the video is looped, the video becomes gif-like in appearance, which is fun and different. Instagram’s other offering is their new live stories, which also provides streaming stories. Much like Snapchat, your video appears in a stream, and because the video disappears, the hope is that users will be encouraged to post often, and not only for high-impact events. Essentially, Boomerang and live videos are targeting a market looking for instant gratification with a minimal amount of time invested.

Lessons for Others

So why do streaming, live and autoplay videos matter? For the simple reason that the market has changed. YouTube will continue to have their audience – for those looking for music, videos, tutorials or movies, this will continue to be the go-to-resource. For those looking to make impact quickly – at a B2B, B2C or individual level, this new manner of engagement will continue to evolve. One of the key reasons that is important to recognize this evolution of authenticity is due in part to millennials. The largest – and certainly most social media savvy demographic to date, this group is the most active video viewers. “eMarketer predicts there will be 77 million millennial digital video viewers in 2015, representing more than 92% of all US millennial internet users.” No matter what industry your business in, these numbers matter. Being able to engage millennial audiences in a manner with which they are most comfortable will be critical to success and sales. So if you want to drive brand loyalty, make a video – but be quiet about it.

Most importantly, streaming videos allow us to capture moments. Absolutely, we should use these methods to engage with customers and friends. We can also use these tools to shed light on injustices of the world. In July 2016, the murder of Philando Castile was captured on a Facebook live video – and was broadcast around the world, leading to outrage and sorrow. Where we were used to seeing brand messages or cute cat pictures, we were now witnesses to a needless execution. Authentic video and live content allow us to broadcast the great things in life, but also the horrors. Sadly, this is not the only tragic example that can now be found in our new time of engagement. As we continue to wade through the true capability of live content, let’s all remember our responsibilities to each other as members of the human race.  We would be well served to ensure we maintain our humanity while we use our videos to demonstrate our authenticity.

Organization: Facebook
Industry: Social Media
Name of Organization Contact:

Authored by: Donna Alexander

If you have concerns as to the accuracy of anything posted on this site, please send your concerns to Peter Carr, Program Director, Social Media for Business Performance.


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