The Next Generation Of Internet Superstars Will Be Live

Justin Lehmann
May 26, 2016

More than a year ago, I wrote about some shiny new live-streaming apps that were taking the social media world by storm. Meerkat and Periscope were duking it out for who would own video on Twitter, while other media giants tried to jam any live content they could find into their regularly scheduled programming.

Live video was so much more immersive, and it seemed like a natural fit in the fast-paced world of Twitter. But was it ready to make the jump from social media shut-in to viral sensation?

The short answer is yes, live-streaming has exploded. Media giants like Facebook and GoPro jumped in with both feet. GoPro even added the ability to live-stream right from their device!

When Meerkat first started, I imaged a social media future filled with on-the-ground digital journalism, real-time high-speed snowboarding sessions and crazy downhill biking videos.

And I wasn’t far off.

Now Facebook Live is promising to turn us all into internet superstars. And they might be onto something.

Take the case of Candace Payne, who innocently filmed herself in her car trying on a talking Chewbacca mask, with hilarious results. If you haven’t seen the video already, give yourself a few minutes to watch because it is without a doubt the most joyus live video you will watch online. Seriously, how have you not seen this yet?

As I write this, the Happy Chewbacca video has been viewed more than 145 million times and Payne has turned into a real life celebrity. She’s been on television more times than Damn Daniel, met J. J. Abrams, carpooled with James Corden, visited Facebook and is currently making the morning television circuit.

Since social media gained widespread popularity, we all dream about becoming virally famous. Waiting for that one Facebook post where you nail your argument just right. Or the perfect Instagram photo to put you on the map. Or the Tweet that influencers all around the world react to and amplify.

There’s no 15 minutes of fame any more. It’s measured in microseconds through likes, retweets, shares and comments. After that, it lasts for as long as you can make it. Either you’re lambasted on Tosh.0, or Ellen calls you into her studio the week after you clip goes viral. Damn Daniel!

When livestreaming started popping up like Periscope and Meerkat, it was a novelty. But it’s quickly becoming the next biggest social commodity.

Facebook has even started handing out huge retainers (like $250,000 big) to media giants like The New York Times, BuzzFeed and Gawker Media to produce 10-20 live videos like streaming “how many rubber bands does it take to blow up a watermelon?” or a slinky on a treadmill. It doesn’t sound like much, but the latter raked in more than 17 million viewers while it was live, and who knows how many times it’s been viewed since.

That’s right, 17 million people watched a slinky on the internet. What a time to be alive!

I know Facebook Live will still feel like a hokey gimmick to some, but I think it’s poised to change how we can engage and interact with a social audience. It doesn’t have to consist of only Happy Chewbacca videos either.

Facebook Live is trying to draw us out of our shells, and in a much deeper way than Twitter, Periscope or even SnapChat.

We all have family, trusted friends and confidants who we feel safe to goof off with, and show a side that we might otherwise keep far away from the outside world. Facebook gave us an outlet to share that with our “friends on the internet webs.” (If you don’t understand that reference you really need to go watch Happy Chewbacca.)

It’s allowed us to create our own little personal internet made for sharing triumphs, birthdays, anniversaries and lifetime milestones right alongside fears, struggles, frustrations and disappointments. With the addition of Facebook Live, our own little slice of the internet becomes much more raw and visceral.

Now, we’re not all going to become internet superstars overnight. But as consumers of social media, we are being asked to put more of ourselves out there. And I don’t see that as a bad thing. Because we’re all trying to figure out how to make it through life, and now we can add a lense of humanity to this amazing world of social media.

How do we overcome obstacles to become the best me possible? How do we find happiness? True love? How do I get better at playing the guitar? And how long will a slinky stay on a treadmill?

Facebook Live doesn’t give us a platform to figure all this out; it gives us a glimpse behind the curtain. A peek inside how the rest of the world lives, and leaves you to figure out the rest.

Think you have something important to share with your “internet web friends”?

Ready Camera 1. . . rolling. . .

You’re Live.