Making video easy…is hard. But it is starting to happen and adding a new dimension to socialization on the Internet.
On the social web and on Facebook, the trend towards sending and sharing video is growing at enormous rates. Internet TV viewing in the US alone has increased more than 50% year over year. But there is a difference between sharing a video on YouTube, viewing a concert on Facebook through Ustream and what innovative startups are calling social video.
The social aspect of video is blurring the boundaries between real life and real experiences online. But more interesting, it is letting people connect with celebrities, brands, politicians and leaders in a powerful new way. This is the game changer.
The state of art for socialization around video today is in three buckets.
With YouTube, you capture a video moment, upload it and share it by sending it around. Fun stuff and we all feel good when we get comments like ”Looking good” or ”Great vacation” or “Can’t wait to see you.” Similar to a video post on your Facebook wall. While richer content than a photo, not really that different.
With the streaming companies like Ustream, Livestream and JustinTV, we are finally getting events and shows delivered digitally to us on our laptops and phones inside of Facebook. It’s cool to watch a show, comment on the wall, or Tweet out what your thinking to your friends. Similar to Social TV. Their goal is to create a virtual living room or concert hall around the shared experience. The event is streamed, the comments are to your friends via chat. This is less about changing socialization than about changing the delivery from analog to digital.
The third, more embryonic and more interesting is what is termed social video and is finding a home on Facebook. In the spirit of full disclosure, I am an Advisor to Vpype, a social video startup. Social video, from Vpype’s application, lets an individual or a brand or businesses create a video conversation with their friends or fans on Facebook. You use your Friends Lists and Event Manager to decide where and when, you broadcast live and share the broadcast channel with your audience who can ask questions, interact and shape the content of what you are presenting or talking about.
So social video is a two-way, one-to-many shared channel of communications where the broadcaster interacts live, unscripted with their audience. The entire event is saved, shareable and reviewable. The content of this video conversation is the combination of the broadcasters video and the viewers’ comments. The sum of both defines the experience. Think of a live TV show with an audience that interacts freely with the host.
OK…so we have a live two-way channel between brands and fans. It’s authentic because you can see the broadcaster. It’s real because it’s live and free flowing. And it’s more intimate and compelling because it’s personal. Yes, this is where real life and real conversations online start to come together.
But the game changing power of this comes from something special that is only available on the social web. And that is connecting with stars (from your local politician to a movie star) in real time in a personal way. Think for a second about Twitter and one of the many reasons why it’s so powerful. You can message Ashton Kutcher or John Mayer and potentially get a response back from them in seconds. For millions this is beyond a wow experience. This could also be Gavin Newsom, Mayor of San Francisco, your Senator, Yankee baseball slugger or your local celebrity chef.
With social video, this connection between brand and fan could become a video conversation on Facebook from a Fan Page or a personal profile. With these celebrities talking to their fans or customers through their Fan Pages directly.
Vpype’s Live Broadcaster is pioneering an interactive video conversation application for Facebook brands and businesses. I will do a follow-up blog post on early beta testers for Vpype as they come online, which include a Hollywood Screen Writers Pitch Contest, Evangelical Ministers, Auto shops, DJs, virtual online assistants and one public company planning on doing its Earnings Call via the social video product.
This is what is starting to happen on Facebook. Having a cloud-based architecture, a global massive audience that grows by 500,000 a day and a proven model for friending and socialization makes it a natural. Not to mention monetization from its advertising model. I’ve blogged on this here.
Today, social video is a conversation defined in a video and gravitar-based chat environment. Voice channels and split screen (Larry King-like) environments are being tested now. And with 4G networks within reach, the paradigm will go mobile for broadcasting as well as interactive video chatting.
It is still early days for this dream but it is really starting to happen. It’s empowering for all of us to be on the brink of another chasm-leaping breakthrough in technology and behavioral change.
As much as I’ve embraced the social web and Facebook today, this leap is really something to get excited about.
I’ll be online broadcasting and trying this one out.