Ever needed a friend’s opinion on which shirt to buy? Maybe you want to see their reaction to one of your witty comments? Well, now there’s (another) way to video message your friends—and this time, it’s even simpler. Facebook launched a visually-focused feature that they say will bring life and authenticity to your text conversations—through seamless instant video.
Facebook Instant Video, as the company itself puts it, “is a reflection of the ubiquity of video – we simply expect to have that ability in real-time, all the time.” The new feature, which lives inside the popular Facebook Messenger app, is perfect for sharing quick moments with friends who aren’t right by your side.
HOW IT WORKS
1. First, download the latest version of Messenger on either iOS or Android.
2. Once you and a friend are both viewing your conversation, tap on the video icon in the top right corner to share real-time video (Note: Audio is off by default, but you can easily turn it on by clicking "Tap for sound" at the top of the video stream).
3. The video stream will then float over the text conversation so you can continue to message while streaming.
4. Then, your friend can share a video back if they choose. Pretty simple stuff, huh?
Unlike Microsoft Skype, Google Hangouts and Duo, and even Facebook Video Calling, the new Instant Video feature is not made to have a full conversation in Messenger. Instead, it’s meant for short bursts of live footage, meant to augment an ongoing text-based conversation—but not replace it.
Don't Call It New, Though
Call it, “a bit like Snapchat…again.” Facebook Instant Video leaves many users crying foul. The “short bursts of live footage” have digital gurus complaining that it’s just another copycat attempt to keep up with Snapchat.
If you recall, in August 2016, Instagram (owned by Facebook) launched its “Stories” feature, which allows users to post pictures or videos to their own personal “Story” where friends who follow them can see what they posted. The only problem? Snapchat has the exact same feature called…wait for it…“Stories”. As you can probably tell, it has been looked at as an exact clone to Snapchat, and hasn’t been received well by users.
The Bottom Line?
For users, Facebook Instant Video is a helpful tool that can be used in certain situations to add a human touch to an interaction where you’re already staring at a screen. It seems to be relevant only in specific situations, whereas video calling is still the way to go if you want to interact with someone for more than a few seconds at a time.
For marketers, the jury is still out. Companies continue to tinker with how to market within Snapchat, but many have struggled to find the right formula. And that’s with the help of sponsored Snapchat Stories and the “Discover” option, which allows companies to post updates and stories regarding whatever they choose—a feature Instant Video does not yet have.
Facebook Instant Video is not ready to be a viable marketing platform just yet. However, give it some time, and who knows? We may be saying, “What’s a Snapchat?"