Photo Credit: flickr
By almost any indicator, social video is taking over the Internet. It’s no surprise that Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are doubling down on their social video strategies, including the use of live video to win over millennial users. And that’s what makes CNN’s recent acquisition of the social video app Beme so interesting.
What is Beme?
In many ways, you can think of Beme as a mix of Snapchat, Instagram and Vine. Originally launched in July 2015, the app has experienced an almost unprecedented adoption rate by young millennials, many of whom were drawn in by the celebrity role of prominent YouTube personality Casey Neistat. By some estimates, the app has been downloaded 1.2 million times in just under 18 months.
What Beme promised to do was to “strip away the identities” that so many users try to create online by using the perfect filter or relentlessly taking the same photo over and over again, until it was perfect. Beme co-creator Casey Neistat emphasized that this app was all about candid, unfiltered perspectives of life that you capture in 4-second bursts.
Like Snapchat, the images you take with Beme were meant to be raw, authentic and “in the moment.” And, just like Snapchat, the images were meant to disappear once they had been viewed.
There was one more element that made Beme unique – in many ways, the app was the anti-selfie app. That’s because the way the app worked, you had to hold the phone close to your chest (preferably, close to your heart). That meant that, instead of focusing on yourself, you would focus on the world around you. And since you couldn’t precisely control what images the app would capture, it was also viewed as being more “real.” (Just try taking a photo by holding your smartphone next to your heart!)
So how does CNN package this raw, unfiltered content?
For CNN, the main goal is to tap into the huge millennial audience. These young users enjoy sharing quick 10-second snaps or 4-second bemes, and may not be willing to watch a 30-minute CNN news program.
Ultimately, the Beme-CNN collaboration will revolve around Casey Neistat, who is one of the most popular figures on YouTube – at least, until he recently took down his daily YouTube vlog that he had been filming for 18 straight months (March 2015 – November 2016). Presumably, that daily vlog will resurface in some iteration once he joins CNN.
Using social video to burst the filter bubble
And there’s one other way that the Beme app could be harnessed by CNN, and that’s getting more people to listen to the views of others who may not be within their same social “tribe” or same online “filter bubble.” With Beme, it wasn’t possible to edit the content once you filmed it, and that meant that the content could not be edited to support a specific viewpoint – it was just raw, unedited content that you could interpret however you wanted to.
As Neistat has pointed out, hearing voices and perspectives very different from your own matters. Maybe CNN will use the Beme team to improve the coverage of conflicts in war zones in the Middle East. Maybe it will be a way to report on natural disasters. Or maybe it will be a way to capture political dialogues happening in America. Whatever happens with Beme, it’s just further proof that social video is taking over the Internet.