Facebook's live video moves could lure back elusive younger users

Social network upgrades its live video features

Facebook today announced new features for Facebook Live to make it easier for mobile users to create, find and share live videos.

In an assault on rival YouTube and to target Facebook's own struggle to increase its younger user base, the social network is giving its users new features to stream their live videos to a Facebook Group and schedule a live Q&A session via Events.

Think of it this way: If you're at an event with friends, you might want to live stream the fun you're all having to your friends who couldn't make it. You can then send them invitations to watch live the fun they're missing.

For their amusement, though, they also can comment on your video.

"We hope this new ability to both broadcast and watch live video within Groups and Events enables people to connect more deeply with their closest friends, family and the communities of people who share their interests," the company wrote in a blog post . The new Facebook Live features will roll out on iOS and Android devices over the coming weeks.

The new features include the ability for viewers to add reactions to live videos. The same reactions -- Love, Haha, Wow, Sad or Angry – that Facebook added to its "Like" button earlier this year will be available for viewers to comment about the videos.

Users can invite friends to watch their live videos by tapping on an invite icon and then selecting the friends who they want to see their video. Facebook will send out push notifications with the invitation.

The company is also making it easier for users to find live videos to watch. Live videos will have a dedicated place on Facebook's mobile app, giving users a quick insight into videos that users around the world are talking about, live videos from friends and videos on topics users are interested in.

For desktop users, there will be a Facebook Live Map to show users what videos are being shared in 60 countries.

Analysts were divided on whether Facebook's new live video efforts will bring those elusive younger users to the social network.

"Facebook is getting serious about video," said Patrick Moorhead, an analyst with Moor Insights & Strategy. "This could be good for Facebook because it can keep users from leaving the site for popular live streaming video apps like Periscope and Meerkat, and keep users on-site for longer periods of time."

The new service also could be a way to bring back younger users, who may have dropped Facebook for rivals like Instagram, Snapchat and even Twitter.

"Unlike other times they've tried to lure in younger users, this one could be a success," Moorhead said. "These new Facebook features are unique enough and exciting enough to pull in younger users. I believe my three teenagers will want to use this…. This could be the answer for Facebook."

Ezra Gottheil, an analyst with Technology Business Research, is far from optimistic that the new live video features will be enough to persuade users under the age of 25 to give the site more use.

"I don't think this will bring new, younger users," he said. "That's all about brand and brand identity. But this could increase time on screen, and for some current users, make them more loyal to Facebook."

Gottheil added that enhancing Facebook Live could be a "big deal" for the social network by making the site stickier and generating more revenue for the company.

"This could be pretty big," he said. "Given Facebook's user base, anything that positively affects even a minority of users is a big win."

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