Mark Zuckerberg came out with his ‘awesome’ reply to Larry Page’s Google+, by unveiling video chat and group chat features for Facebook on July 7, 2011.
The video chat feature, that would be rolled out soon, is launched in collaboration with Skype. It is however also available for immediate activation at the choice of the user.
Not surprisingly, these added features on Facebook would compete directly with the ‘hangout’ and ‘huddle’ features on the newly launched Google+ project by the search giant.
Quoting Philip Su, part of the Facebook video team, from the Facebook blog, “Over the last year, the messages team has been working to make it easier to have one on one conversations with your friends. In November, we launched the new messages, which bring together your chats, texts, emails and messages all in one place. Today, I’m excited to introduce video calling and other improvements to chat.”
Awesome news for brands too?
While at an individual level it is mostly ‘awesome’ news, it would be interesting to see brands engage with the feature to optimise their social media presence. Quite a few will be already mulling over how to come out with a technique to engage with the platform.
The first takeaway is that when it comes to a brand’s social media presence, Facebook has a clear advantage over Google+ at the moment. While Google+ is still available on a limited basis, most brands have already established their presence in social media to increase their engagement and interaction with the consumers.
Social media savvy brands such as Vodafone released its famous ZooZoo ads first on the social networking site and later as a TVC. Reebok also became increasingly popular with fans on its Facebook page with its ‘butt-campaign’ videos.
The second takeaway is that this new feature could prove to be an alluring add-on to a brand’s social media presence, especially the brands that engage with content. One of the obvious engagements that comes to mind is entertainment and sports brands. Imagine hosting a movie actor/ singer/ TV actor for an interactive video chat in the future with fans to promote an upcoming product. Or brands like Coca-Cola and Pepsi that engage content like music. A similar effort can be made by sports brand such as Adidas or Nike with a celebrated sportsperson.
Perhaps the most important aspect from the coming together of Facebook with Microsoft’s Skype to launch a product for mutual benefit, is that it highlights a collaborative way of working for media companies of this age. Technology led brands find ways to come together and co-create platforms. Hulu, the entertainment and video streaming website, was an earlier example where competing brands joined hands. NBC Universal, Fox entertainment and Walt Disney-ABC television jointly launched the website to create the ad-supported video streaming platform. Unlike traditional brands, technological brands take the ‘frenemy’ way and set an example for others to follow.
Another lesson, and the fifth takeaway, is that traditional brands could take from this association is the prime importance of a consumer. The technology industry increasingly leads the way in putting consumer at the centre of the conversation. They believe that brands first need ‘users’ – and money can follow. Monetisation continues to be a challenge for such companies but that is their mantra anyway.
Meanwhile, Facebook’s video chat has already garnered more than 25,000 likes and 5000 comments. It would be interesting to see Google’s reaction to this ‘awesome’ surprise.