Facebook is currently involved with intense testing on a new video option for Messenger which would allow you to share your phone screen while chatting in Messenger, rather than having to use the built-in camera. This new option would enable you to screen share your mobile device, so that you could also then share in-app experiences with your partner such as videos, images, and more.
How it works
Prior to entering this mode in Messenger, the user would be prompted with this message, “You can share your favorite content with your video chat. This turns off your camera and let’s everyone in on the chat see your screen.” Before proceeding, you’d then get a second warning, so that you could avoid sharing any personal or private information on your phone, which you may not want an entire group to see. Once you agree to this, the screen share is then distributed to all members sharing the chat.
This would appear to be a very useful feature which would have great application in a number of ways. For instance, you could produce real-time walk-throughs right on your phone screen, or you could quickly share a whole slew of videos or photos directly from your phone. You could also discuss and review documents, either for a work application or for group study in a school-related scenario.
One of the most likely usages for this new capability, will be directly related to live streaming options. You will have the ability to broadcast and share a high volume of video content very easily and very broadly. It would even allow the viewing of video content outside the confines of Facebook itself. This is not Facebook’s first venture into video-sharing among its members. Some time ago, Facebook made communal video options available to its users, and this was fairly well received.
The communal video option
Facebook’s communal video option is called Watch Party, and it essentially allows for pre-recorded videos to have the same interactive capacity which Facebook Live videos have always enjoyed. Whenever a Watch Party has been initiated, participants will have the ability to watch any kind of videos whether live or recorded, and at the same time users will have the ability to interact.
There’s a good reason for this introduction of communal videos, given the fact that Facebook Live videos routinely account for a great deal more engagement than regular video, or of any other post formats. The immediate, real-time connection is the aspect which fuels greater interaction among members, and fosters greater connectedness within group members. The Watch Party capability has clearly been responsible for enhancing group communication, with hundreds and sometimes thousands of comments being generated while members shared a video.
Watch Party can also be used to bring family and friends closer together by viewing videos related to family members or to their extended family. Some examples might be to watch video taken of a family graduation, a wedding, or any other significant event which is recently occurred. There doesn’t even need to be a major event which was captured on video – it could just be a gathering of family or friends to watch some funny videos together.
Watch Party can also be of use to businesses, by providing a new vehicle for enhancing group interactions, thereby increasing awareness of group members. This could be a substitute for formal video conferences, and could be a much more cost-effective way of arranging such interactions. Brands which are already active on Facebook could therefore accomplish some legitimate business purposes at little or no cost to themselves, while achieving strong interaction and connectedness between employees at various locations.
It’s also true that Page posts which generate discussion among users will always show higher in News Feed. Live videos generally lead to much more intense discussion among Facebook viewers, commonly averaging six times as many interactions as regular videos. Group users often interact about public content, and local businesses tend to make community connections by posting relevant updates and creating new events.
These kinds of new of news events generate important conversations on the issues of the day. This means that more more people are seeing increasing number of updates from groups in their feeds, and all that extra activity might well provide opportunities through Watch Party to promote content. New members of Facebook groups can quickly become involved by starting a Watch Party, and brands can use new video content from their companies to promote brand awareness.
Given the fact that there is a powerful trend swirling around increasing video engagement, it’s very easy to understand the success of Watch Party as a communal video sharing option. That makes it a very appealing alternative for both individuals and brands, for increasing engagement and interaction among friends and family, as well as business associates and company employees.
Extension of communal video
This new communal video option extends the concept by expanding the capacity of communal video options to any kind of video which is playable on your smartphone. It has already been used to establish full-screen broadcasts of recently pirated movies and other controversial content as well. It would be very easy to set up your own small movie house, and to have a group of your best friends watching the movie together, and discussing it as it was in progress.
Obviously, this will not be the primary use for the new screen share option, and it certainly isn’t the responsibility of Facebook to monitor or police up how the option would be used by account holders. However, it’s very easy to visualize how this could become a very popular way of using the new option, especially if testing is concluded in the near future and a general rollout were to follow.
There will of course, be a number of benign and useful ways that the screen share option can be put to use, and it does seem like a fairly logical extension of Facebook’s existing capabilities with video. All in all, this new video sharing option in Messenger should be one that’s very well received, and which a great number of people make use of.