Opinions: 

Travel Tech

The development of live streaming applications is beginning to transform the social media landscape. New technology such as Meerkat and Periscope is playing a major role in delivering new content options for companies, and already being adopted widely by the media. Television channels and radio stations have quickly understood the potential of this technology, and are already embracing Meerkat and Periscope in surprisingly large numbers.

Live Video Streaming Catching On

In a world in which millennials in particular fasten on to new technology trends rapidly, live video streaming technology can establish itself as a significant commercial niche extremely quickly. And we know from previous technological marketplaces that achieving an early market lead ahead of competitors can be absolutely critical in terms of measuring long-term success.

With this in mind, other major players in the world of Internet companies are already attempting to at least snatch a slice of the pie. And there can be no more prominent Internet company than Facebook, naturally a corporation that would seem to benefit from this type of development. It is Twitter that has been largely involved with the early live streaming video technology, both in terms of acquiring its own app in the shape of Periscope, and also by providing a platform for the pioneering Meerkat.

Facebook has already signalled its intention to supersede the existing market-leaders in this niche. The company has recently announced the release of its first live streaming functionality, even though the feature is relatively limited at this point in time.

Facebook Mentions App

Users of Facebook can access live streaming via Mentions, an influential application that the social media platforms stated has been created for “actors, athletes, musicians and other influencers.” In short, at present this new Facebook live streaming functionality isn't available for everyone to access, and instead a select group of people will act as guinea pigs for the system.

It seems that Facebook is gently dipping its toes in the live streaming pool before deciding whether the technology has merit for the social platform at this point in time. But it seems certain that this is very much an effective trial for a wider rollout, rather than Facebook genuinely wondering whether or not live streaming will take off. Already it is commonplace for mainstream media to make reference to live streaming applications, so it seems an absolute certainty that this will become a profitable commercial niche in the foreseeable future.

However, it is worthwhile to note that Facebook is targeting a particularly important niche for Meerkat. Everyone knows the importance of celebrity culture in the existing society, and this has been something on which Meerkat has particularly focused. It seems that the strategists within the hierarchy of Facebook have targeted this particular segment of Meerkat’s existing audience.

Periscope has very much positioned itself as a window into all walks of life across the planet, and communicates this to its followers by featuring a prominent globe icon within the navigation of the app. However, Meerkat has aimed for a different niche, and this is evident from the Twitter site of the live streaming program. The social feed of this company prominently features promoted streams from the lights of Bono, Jimmy Fallon and YouTube star Michelle Phan.

Archiving Live Streaming

One of the interesting aspects of the Facebook approach to this topic is that live streams promoted on the market-leading social media sites will not disappear automatically. This has been a common aspect of Meerkat and Periscope in the early life of the live streaming sites, but Facebook has instead opted for an archival system. Unless users specifically delete a Facebook live streaming video, it will remain part of the site indefinitely. It will be interesting to see whether Meerkat and Periscope respond to this element of the Facebook approach, or retain their existing policy.

It is not yet clear what the long-term plan for live streaming is via Facebook. The company is obviously pursuing the tried and tested strategy of convincing prominent people to utilise a product, lending credence to it ahead of marketing it to advertisers willing to tap into that brand’s street cachet. This has been an extremely effective strategy in multiple marketplaces, and there is no reason to suppose that it will not be successful with live streaming as well.

Regardless of this, there is no doubt that Meerkat will be monitoring the developments of Facebook's live streaming extremely closely. It would be natural for Meerkat to perceive that Facebook is rather treading on its toes, and there is no doubt that this development poses a threat to its business model.

As live streaming continues to develop, and becomes an increasingly mainstream technology, that is huge potential for travel-related brands to utilise it as a content creation tool. Although this is not imminent with this new Facebook service, the popularity and ubiquity of the social media platform suggests that it will become a viable channel of promotion for both destinations and travel brands in the coming years.

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