In our weekly newsletter, we looked at how Apple is ingeniously using Facebook to help launch and support their new visual format called Live Photos. However, there is a bigger picture appearing here, one that is surreptitiously putting the social media giant at the center of the online visual experience, whether familiar or new.
There is a very valid reason why Facebook wants to remain the primary location for visual media: After all, it owes its original success, and its continued attention, almost entirely thanks to photos. Mark Zuckerberg is acutely aware that if he loses the attention of visual content consumers, he loses Facebook. His strategy has been two-fold: acquire competing companies in that space ( think Instagram or Oculus Rift) and continuously develop Facebook so that it remains highly compatible with any source of visual content, wherever it comes from. We have seen this happen recently and with huge success as Facebook implemented its auto-play features for videos ( now up to 4 billion views daily). It is now playing in the same battlefield as the video giant, Youtube.
With Apple, Facebook sees an opportunity to become the first territory for what could become a hugely successfully file format. Apple’s Live photo, a mix of stills and video, activated via touch, is perfect for the mobile experience ( key to Facebook development). With millions of iPhone users who will not resist wanting to share their latest visual creations, Facebook is guaranteed a massive audience and has a giant head start before it becomes playable elsewhere. It also connects strongly with the Apple brand, a strong message reinforcement that Facebook is highly relevant. Of course, Instagram will not be far behind in offering the same format. Finally, let’s not forget that Live photo, even if not successful with users, offers a nice visual ad delivery solution.
But Facebook has no intention of stopping here. A recent article in the WSJ reveals that it intends to offers Virtual Reality type of images as well. By tilting their phones, users will be able to change their viewing perspective within a full 360 video. Being native in Facebook, it will be OS agnostic, working on iOS as well as Android at launch and will be goggle-free. Here again, Facebook wants to be the first to start delivering VR experience at full-scale, even before the long-awaited Oculus Rift is shipped. While Flickr is experimenting with VR, it seems to be a pet project for the time being. While no statements have been made on how and by whom these VR videos will be created, chances are Facebook – or even Instagram- might offer the capability in an upcoming feature. Already apps like the French Photonomie or the Gopro-owned Kolor allow for the creation of such files and others are about to hit the market.
This is certainly not the last we see of Facebook supporting innovative visual formats. Clearly leading in delivering engagements, visuals are not only the fundamental glue of social media but the most effective ad support in terms of returns. Since our mobile devices are becoming the number one tool to create and visualize them, it is only logical that Facebook wants to remain the predominant place where visual creators and viewers connect. Whatever the format.
Author: Paul Melcher
Paul Melcher is the founder of Kaptur. He is an entrepreneur, advisor, consultant with a strong background in licensing, copyright, sales, marketing and technology with more than 20 years experience in developing world-renowned photo based companies with two successful exits. Named one of the “100 most influential people in photography” by American Photo magazine.