On a personal level, social media offers us connectivity with other people, albeit mostly by photos, pre-recorded videos and text. As our desire for connectivity increases, how long will it be before the most popular social media sites are those that offer face-to-face communication in real-time, at the click of a button?

Social Media and WebRTC

From a business perspective, social media offers enhanced customer service opportunities in the form of technical help and behind-the-scenes insights into their business. It helps grow their outreach and improve business’ sales through promoted content and brand transparency.

But some believe that social media has already had its day and that the future of instant communication is none other than WebRTC. So, how might the relationship between social media and WebRTC play out in the months and years to come? Will WebRTC ever become an all-out rival to social media?

Certainly, from a business point of view, WebRTC video conferencing is proving a highly effective, relatively glitch-free way to communicate. How long will it be before video conferences take place over social media platforms?

This post will look at how the biggest social media platforms are using WebRTC to offer their users complete connectivity.

Early Adopters to WebRTC: Google Hangouts

When it comes to social media and WebRTC, Google is arguably leading the way for other platforms. Their video communication app, Google Hangouts is a great example of how WebRTC is being used for browser-based video communication. Their platform enables users to integrate the chat feature into their social media profiles and email accounts. The benefits of being able to speak with someone face-to-face at the click of a button are obvious - no long emails, less miscommunication and an instant indication of someone’s availability.

Paving the Way for WebRTC: Facebook Messenger

In terms of number of users, Facebook is the largest social media site that uses WebRTC. After Facebook’s initial offerings of video chat through Skype, in April 2015 they announced that they would no longer be offering integration with the platform. In the same month, they announced the launch of video calling through their Facebook Messenger app using WebRTC. This current incarnation of their video chat app is certainly a lot smoother than their previous offering as WebRTC doesn’t require any plugins and can be integrated directly as a hybrid mobile and desktop application.

The Future of WebRTC and Social Media: Video Streaming:

A few weeks after Facebook announced its new video chat platform, Twitter launched its own video streaming app called Periscope. Their mobile app enables users to chat instantly with their followers at any time.

Given Twitter’s existing business focus, Periscope is proving to be particularly popular for businesses that want to broadcast via video to their followers. With the added capability of being able to save broadcasts on to mobile devices, share and participate in discussions about them, Periscope is one of the most interactive social media video streaming services out there.

Similarly, around the same time that Periscope launched, the social media world was introduced to Meerkat, a video streaming app designed specifically for IOS users.

But Are These New Video Streaming Apps Missing a Trick?

Both Periscope and Meerkat make use of Flash technology, which is considered by some developers to be old and outdated. Perhaps the biggest drawback to these new video streaming apps is that don’t offer completely instant communication. Both apps have a delay of a few seconds in their communication.

Something that could be solved by WebRTC.

Will we see these mobile apps make the shift to WebRTC as Google and Facebook have done?

To sum up, given our desire for instant communication, the popularity of video streaming will only increase over time. Given the sometimes clunky solutions used to run most video chats, to say that WebRTC will come into its own very quickly and become a rival to social media isn’t without its merit.

The open-source nature of the technology means that the possibilities for integration are limitless. As more social media sites follow in the footsteps of Google Plus and Facebook Messenger, high quality, browser-to-browser video communication will become the norm with WebRTC leading the way.