Realtime Round-up #2 — Live Commenting & Realtime Updates
The evolution of Web and Mobile has resulted in an explosive content creation. Consumers can now engage with news, information, and updates across a wide variety of publishing platforms including social media, blogs, and news sites. In order to capture the attention of the users, organizations are recognizing the importance of realtime connectivity to keep readers engaged.
One of the main use of realtime connectivity by digital publishers is through live features. These enhance user experience and help keep readers hooked for a longer period of time.
What is live commenting and how does it work?
There are conceivably two ways in which live commenting can be made available — and that is by pushing or polling data. The goal of every digital platform is to allow users to see all the comments without having to reload the page. This makes way for a spontaneous and interactive experience online without having to take any action on the users’ end and view live comment updates as they happen.
When you are dealing with 100 million pieces of content and 650,000 comments being published every minute — it becomes hard to manage the engineering process. When Facebook was building their live commenting feature, they initially tested using a polling approach to simulate a realtime experience. However even after increasing their polling frequency to a 5-second interval, it was still not good enough to meet the speed at which users wanted to interact in a live commenting environment. An alternative method had to be found.
With a push-based approach, you are able to push comments directly to the users. However, you need to know who might be viewing the content piece that will be receiving a live comment. The team at Facebook Engineering was able to come up with a genius solution to this, which they called “write locally, read globally”.
By storing the information about the content piece that a user is currently viewing, in their local data center, and fetching the viewers info once a new comment has been published across their various data centers, they are able to combine both sides and push updates out in a much more efficient way.
The primary reason for this to be a viable solution is the fact that most of the digital publishing platforms nowadays consist of more reads than writes as the speed of producing content is much lower than the speed of consuming it.
Digital communication is no longer a one-man show
Primarily publishing platforms used to push information out to their community of readers, but the latest digital publishing has started to shift this trend to more of a conversational and nurturing relationship among the user community.
According to a research by Wibbitz, on how millennials consume news, 40% rely primarily on digital outlets for their news while 43.41% primarily get their news directly on their smartphones. The change in how news is consumed shines a light on a new reality, i.e, the need of not just staying informed but also being able to respond and react in real time, irrespective of the conversation happening on web or mobile.
Recently Reddit decided to add real-time comments and chat support for their new mobile apps that were long available through third-party clients. Its main goal of taking back control of the media consumption doesn’t just include media assets but also an introduction of live comments feeds, in-app chat and much more. By adding these updates the team at Reddit hopes to enhance the realtime user experience and build upon the existing community.
With over 1.69 billion users accessing Reddit every month, a large proportion of their young users come from mobile — a reported 58% of users, aged 18–34, preferably using only mobile or web apps. In order to tailor the advertising experience both for the users and the advertisers, it’s crucial to nurture a native app experience on their own mobile application.
Create a sense of Urgency and a Need to Share
The new digital age platforms such as Facebook & WhatsApp have allowed users to dwell and spend time reflecting on the information they receive besides the ability to share live experiences. This challenges the simple interaction of sending information and receiving instant feedback as a normal means of communication.
On the other hand, some of the media platforms such as SnapChat, that allows users to only show their content for 24 hours, have brought a sense of urgency in reacting to a specific content within a certain timeframe. With 191 million daily active users, Snapchat is causing a shift in user online behavior and setting high expectations in terms of how a true real time experience should look like.
The overall sense of urgency is easily replicated in other areas such as financial stock updates. Due to the nature of the data shared when live trading is taking place, there are stock ticker updates such as in the case of Bloomberg Quint by providing realtime updates with the latest stock prices.
How can you start adding live commenting feature to your application?
At Ably, as a realtime data delivery platform, we’ve seen how organizations are revolutionizing their user online experience by enabling live comments on their Web, mobile and IoT devices. We recommend that you read more about how Quintype Technologies is helping digital publishing platforms to add live commenting and how they were able to provide scalable realtime features.
If you are looking to add live commenting features to your application and build a realtime commenting system with React, you can follow Ably’s tutorial and get started right away.
Any questions? Feel free to reach out to us.