Written by Courtney Bolt Digital Agency
Meerkat debuted on February 27 with live video streaming that conveniently synced with Twitter. After taking a big hit when Twitter revoked access to its social graph and announced its acquisition of revival streaming app Periscope, the San Francisco based startup became the talk of SXSW 2015– I mean who doesn’t root for an underdog.
Although Periscope and Meerkat are being talked about as the next big things in social media, live streaming apps are not new. UStream, Livestream, and Color are all predecessors of the two emerging social giants. What makes Periscope and Meerkat standout? One reason is our comfort level has increased for recording videos and sharing them online. Go to any social platform and you will be flooded with videos documenting almost every incident of a person’s life. This wasn’t the case seven years ago when Ustream and Livestream were just launching. Thanks to YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, and Vine, if you’re not living in front of a camera, you’re watching someone who is. The organizations that back the platforms are also influential in creating buzz, you can’t really get a wider reach than Twitter and SXSW.
Similarities and Differences
Both apps allow users to broadcast videos on mobile devices, send links to the live streams via email, and have web versions available to view streams online. Neither apps are available on Android, so team iPhone only.
Meerkat users are able to see who’s watching their stream and engage with viewers on the app. Periscope does not allow users to write comments to viewers, but they can send hearts to live-streamers, comparable to a ‘like’ on Facebook. Meerkat offers less privacy: streams are always public and comments from viewers are unable to be turned off. Periscope lets users limit who can see their broadcasts and gives the option of disabling comments.
Two huge advantages of Periscope is automatic access to Twitter network and replay. Meerkat initially connected users with their Twitter contacts upon sign in, which as we know is no more. Now, users must build a new network within the app (searching and adding people manually). Meerkat introduced a “People You May Know” section and a Leaderboard of the most popular Meerkat users in order to bounce back from the blow. Periscope, on the other hand, lists everyone you’re following on Twitter under its People tab and has a list of users who receive the most hearts under “Most Loved.” Meerkat is still live-only broadcasting while Periscope saves broadcasts that can be replayed up to 24 hours after the live stream.
While its still too early to tell if these live streaming apps are here to stay or just fades for the moment, brands can benefit from live video. Smaller, emerging broadcasting services offer better engagement with customers and can help avoid getting lost in the noise of larger social networks. I’ll discuss how to incorporate real-time content into your social media in my next article: “Revamping Marketing Strategy for Real-Time Content.”