The Power Of Live: Consuming in Real Time

It used to be that we absorbed the news after it happened, after journalists, newspapers and broadcast networks had the time to report, analyze, and write about the events. Those days are long gone: today, we consume the news as it happens.
This change has mostly been a result of the social media era, with the earliest mainstream enabler of this trend being Twitter. For all its faults, Twitter is still one of the best ways to witness a news event, breaking story, or massive demonstration or entertainment spectacle in real time. Indeed, some people find using Twitter in this manner so engaging that they skip the conventional methods of watching these events (such as on TV) altogether.
There has been a gradual yet consistent shift in the social media space which indicates that platforms see the need to provide mechanisms for real-time content consumption. We’ve seen this with Facebook Live, which the platform has been promoting heavily, and with Snapchat and Instagram Stories, which users are increasingly leveraging to document events as they happen. Just this week, Instagram Live launched globally, adding another weapon to the arsenal of creating real-time content. In addition, more and more “experiential” features—where users can engage with content as it’s happening—seem to be launching every month.
With major news stories like the recent US presidential inauguration and the historic women’s marches that took place all over the world, we’ve gotten a taste of how users are putting these features to use, and how consumers are responding. Even major news outlets, such as The Guardian, have responded to the experiential trend on mobile by launching their Guardian Mobile Innovation Lab “to bring stories to life on mobile devices and small screens.”

Here is a look at some of the newest experiential features that social media users can use to both experience content and post it themselves:

Facebook Live: If you haven’t “gone live” yet, Facebook certainly wants you to. The social media giant has thrown a lot of money into promoting the platform, and rolling out features and newsfeed tweaks that encourage you to engage with it. Live works best if you promote it ahead of time, so your followers know what they’re tuning in for, and when you try and pick a time that is suitable for the bulk of your audience (think about time zones and work schedules). And make sure you manage the comments as they appear, so you can respond to or delete any comments as you see fit.
Take Live Blogging to the Next Level: Live blogging major news events, such as big press conferences or election results, is one of the main ways that traditional publishers have gotten in on the experiential news game. Now, with some apps, you can get rolling summary updates on your phone’s lock screen, so you don’t have to be active in the news org’s app in order to see the latest. To do this, make sure your notifications are fully enabled for your news source of choice.
Read and Watch Simultaneously: A lot of platforms and news organizations are getting used to the idea that users want to read and watch simultaneously, such as watching the new President’s speech and reading the live blog coverage at the same time. Many apps are now minimizing and pinning a small version of the video once you start scrolling down, so you can multitask to your heart’s content.
Instagram Live: Yet another way to broadcast live from your mobile phone, Instagram Live is now globally available. If you’re planning to use it, make sure you adhere to the higher quality standard that Instagram users tend to expect—that means no blurry, shaky, or grainy footage. Also note that unlike Facebook Live, Instagram Live is ephemeral, meaning once you’re done broadcasting the video is gone forever. Take this into consideration and if you’d rather repackage your video to use as content once you’re done, you might want to head to Facebook instead.