The Future of Interactive Social Media

facebook-live-reactions-androidAs global access to the internet continues to grow we find ourselves in an increasingly connected world. Never in our collective history have so many people had the ability to access so much information about what is going on in the world around them. This has led to an unprecedented rise in engagement with current events, especially amongst the young people whose voracious appetite to rant, debate and ‘be heard’ has fueled the emergence of so many social media platforms.

Traditional social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, have long been the most common places to express thoughts and generally interact with a global audience in regard to any number of trending topics.  Although these tools enable us to receive our news much more quickly than we did in the past, we are still just reacting and discussing events after the fact. However, with the recent emergence of live-streaming technology, such as Periscope and Facebook Live (to name a couple of the most prominent examples), we can experience monumental events regardless of monetary or geographical concerns.


A recent example of a breakthrough in real-time streaming was sit-in on gun control, held by Democrats in Congress. US law prevents certain aspects of the political process being shown live on TV, but thanks to live-streaming technology (Periscope, in this case), this important event was able to be shown in real-time and with real-time comments, garnering a highly positive response.[1] The application of this technology in politics is a watershed moment, as we move from using it solely for personal interaction and onto utilizing it in the wider social (and political) arena. It demonstrates the way in way in which technology can shape and expand our understanding of governmental procedure and highlights the importance that this type of technology may hold for the future. With a number of high profile stories, and this being an election year, there is an increased amount of attention given to politics and calls for greater transparency within the institution have been repeatedly called for.

Another example can be found with Business Insider, who has been experimenting with this type of technology for a few months now, having covered many of the most recent big news stories in real-time, such as the aftermath of the Orlando shooting, Pride 2016 and the fallout of the Brexit vote. With a core team of only four producers, occasionally working in conjunction with other BI departments, they are now able to deliver two hours of live content per day, averaging around 19,000 viewers, though this figure rose to over 110,000 during the bigger stories.[2]

In both of these cases, live-streaming and two-way video technology hints at the possibilities of what can achieved in the near future in the struggle towards a more open and engaged society.  The demand for live content is obviously growing and, with a more engaged audience to satisfy, the next logical step is the implementation of two-way interactive technology, powered by technologies like the OpenTok platform. OpenTok is flourishing in areas such as education, business and healthcare thanks to its ability to provide easy and reliable video communication. With widespread application users would be able to experience an event in real time and be able to engage with it (and others viewing it) at the same time.

Given the amount of breaking stories each week, it is imperative that technology move at a pace that can accommodate the demand for real-time content. Here at TokBox we are not only working to satisfy the demand, but also to anticipate future developments and provide the most synergistic platform through which users can interact with the world around them.