TOP Talk

Sixty Seconds for Social: Meerkat, Periscope, and the Race for Livestream Video

Posted April 01, 2015 By Stephanie Malkus

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Livestreams are notoriously glitchy, ala every Apple event ever, as Denny's so perfectly mocked last September:

Now, post-SXSW, you can't even get livestr... out of your mouth before someone mentions Meerkat, the social sweetheart of SXSW, or Periscope, Twitter's newly-acquired and just-released Meerkat challenger. And just like that, the race for livestreaming dominance has begun. In a short amount of time, livestreaming has seen some incredible applications, with Jimmy Fallon sharing a Tonight Show rehearsal on Meerkat last week, and coverage of a gas main explosion in New York City hitting the Periscope airwaves almost as soon as it happened. Where will this new medium go next, and how can brands make the most of it? We're covering the basics in today's 60 for Social:

The Basics

When you strip them both down, Meerkat and Periscope do essentially the same thing--livestream video. It's how they do that and what they do with that video that sets them apart. Meerkat spells out its basics in a very straightforward manner, right on its site/app:

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Now let's take those rules and apply them to Periscope:

  • Everything that streams on Periscope can stream on Twitter, but you don't have to tweet out Periscope streams.
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  • Streams will be pushed to followers in real time via push notifications. (I recommend you turn those notifications off for the sake of your own sanity. Your phone will be constantly buzzing.)
  • Mostly everything is live, but old broadcasts can be viewed afterwards as well.
  • Watchers cannot re-stream any stream to their followers in real time. You can comment, and favorite streams. Perhaps ironically, unlike Meerkat, comments are kept within Periscope and not broadcast publicly on Twitter.
  • You cannot schedule streams on Periscope, but your own streams can be saved for 24 hours.
  • Everyone can watch on the web.

What Periscope has going for it is its ease of use. It's incredibly user-friendly.

B2B Opportunities

The simplicity of these apps, and the integration with Twitter means that any brand with a Twitter following can easily take advantage of its livestream features. The most obvious use for livestreaming is breaking news, and that's precisely how brands can and already are using Meerkat. Here are just a few ways to use livestreaming to build your brand's audience:

Product Debuts

Most of your followers will never make it to a product launch, so why not bring the launch to them. Livestreaming VIP content to a larger audience, like smart USA, which debuted its newest model at the New York Auto Show, and live on Meerkat Tuesday March, 31, is a great way to spread the conversation about your product.

Q&A Sessions

Meerkat presents an easy way for your brand's thought leaders to get some face time with your followers. Pick a topic and put aside a half hour to answer questions from followers. You could answer questions about a product launch, upcoming event, or breaking news. Mashable used this format to discuss last week's F8 conference on Meerkat.

One word of caution: Twitter chats (which is essentially what a Meerkat Q&A session is) and the Reddit version---AMAs---have a history of blowing up in brands' faces, with the the conversation turning negative and getting out of control. So, before embarking on this format, consider all possible negative outcomes.

Behind the Scenes Everyone loves to see behind the curtain and Meerkat's livestream makes it easier than ever to give followers an insider look. Jimmy Fallon gave fans a sneak peak of the “The Tonight Show” by sharing rehearsal on Meerkat and behind the scenes on Periscope as well. Give them a quick tour of the office, or a glimpse of company culture. Of course, use your best judgment and always keep security in mind.

Final Thoughts

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The livestream competition went from 0 to 60 in a matter of weeks. With the swift rise of Meerkat and Twitter's equally swift challenge with Periscope, this space has gotten way more exciting in the blink of an eye. So far, it looks like Meerkat is going to have to step it up on UX if it wants to stay in the game. Twitter's not making it easy for them. Although Twitter's move to block Meerkat from its social graph during SXSW, meaning Meerkat users can no longer see which of their Twitter followers are using the video-sharing service, somewhat backfired by spurring a new wave of interest in the app. So who knows, maybe the scrappy startup will win this time. We know for sure that the competition is a total win for communicators, making it easier than ever to pull audiences into special live events.

Want to learn more? Check out these other great resources on Meerkat and Periscope:

Image Credit:

Stephanie Malkus

About Stephanie Malkus

What inspires me? Unique, inspiring stories told in equally unique and inspiring ways.