Less than a year after Facebook first rolled out its Live feature for celebrities and other high-profile figures, it is embellishing the product with plenty of bells and whistles to make it more compelling than ever for everyday users. On Wednesday, the company is announcing new features, such as filters, real-time emoticons, and the ability to broadcast live video to specific groups or events, as a way to promote the product, with which CEO Mark Zuckerberg is reportedly "obsessed."
It’s not surprising why. As Facebook transitions into an online video behemoth—it now boasts more than 8 billion video views a day—Live is a key part of that transformation. Already, advertisers have responded favorably to Live, which by its very nature suggests the kind of engagement and immediacy that they crave. Live also positions Facebook ever closer to the television/streaming experience, a longtime mission of the company as it tries to chip away at TV advertising dollars. (Interestingly, Facebook prefers to use the term "broadcast" to describe a Live video, rather than "stream.")
Underlying all of the new innovations surrounding Live is Facebook’s attempt to make the product easier to discover, share, and use. People will now be able to invite friends to view a Live video simply by tapping on the Invite icon to the right of the stream. And a new Live video destination will compile live videos from the friends and creators you follow, as well as videos that are the most popular around the world. Users can also post emoticons that will animate in real time on the feed. When people replay the video later, the emoticons and comments that have been left will play as they occurred during the stream. And stealing a page from Snapchat, Facebook is adding new filters and—coming soon—the ability to draw and doodle on the video.
To celebrate the news, Facebook is holding an event in Los Angeles, where it has been actively courting celebrities to use Live, even offering compensation to those who post on a regular basis. Famous people, it seems, still matter.