UPDATED: April 06, 2015
Last week I went to my first NBA game and discovered a purpose for two things:
- A selfie stick
- The app I had downloaded but not yet properly used – Meerkat
It was a nail-biter end to the game so I started to stream it live. In a matter of seconds there was a handful of strangers watching the Kings beat the 76ers with me.
Then, just as I got the hang of Meerkat, Periscope – the Meerkat “killer” – launches. Lots of new streaming opportunity in such a short amount of time. So what exactly do they do, and how can you start using them in your work? Here’s a quick and dirty breakdown.
What do they do?
Meerkat launched in late February and really found its footing during South by Southwest, as attendees started streaming live panels and concerts, and the tech press really hyped the app.
As my fellow Social@Ogilvy contributor Teresa pointed out, the app’s premise is simple: you quickly log in using your Twitter username, describe what you’re seeing, hit “stream”, and your followers are alerted to start watching. You can schedule a stream for a later time, too. After the stream, the video disappears a la Snapchat.
From Tyra Banks to Jimmy Fallon and Aaron Paul, celebrities have been quick to test out Periscope – the Twitter-acquired answer to Meerkat that launched on March 26. The differences in the apps are subtle, but important.
Both apps rely heavily on Twitter, but only Periscope has access to Twitter’s full social graph, which makes discovering streams from people you already follow so much easier. After you’re done streaming, Periscope saves your stream to your phone’s camera roll and to your Periscope profile.
So while celebrities are onboard with Periscope, and many are predicting Meerkat’s demise, it’s likely that one or more live stream apps will continue to build a following in some fashion and it’s worth thinking about how or if to use them in your work. There are so many opportunities.
How can you use them?
The better question may be: should you use these apps? As with every new app or platform, the socially savvy brands are already starting to see how they can play along. There’s something about spontaneous streaming from a cell phone that makes Periscope and Meerkat exciting, but also intimidating, for brands. Five things to keep in mind before you jump into the streaming fray:
- Be Authentic: this is a biggie. Don’t force a live stream that doesn’t make sense or it will be awkward, a waste of time, or it may present a bad look for your brand. Do you have something notable like an event or announcement happening that your average follower/customer would truly care about? If yes, then pull out your iPhone and give it a shot. If your brand is big on behind-the-scenes content, streaming will be a fantastically authentic activity.
- Have Real Conversations: a live stream isn’t just another opportunity to share a scripted brand message – talk to your followers. Consider using a live stream as a real-time sounding board for new ideas. Literally ask questions and give authentic unscripted answers.
- Partner with Influencers: you may be working at a small or niche organization that doesn’t have a ready-made following to find you on Periscope or Meerkat. Consider partnering with a person or organization that compliments what you’re trying to do, and has a dedicated following. Maybe you do a joint live stream. Maybe you sponsor an influencer’s personal stream at your brand’s event.
- Be Creative: the benefit of a new app or platform is that there are no established rules. Some of the more obvious uses are at events like New York Fashion Week or a big press announcement. Imagine a designer streaming and giving live commentary as their collection is on the runway. Maybe your CEO is about to give a big speech and decides to stream a preview to the announcement. Better yet, why doesn’t the CEO break some news on Meerkat? If you’re thinking about distributing a piece of content on other social media channels, take a second and see if there’s an opportunity to do it via live stream.
- Test and Learn: your first live stream may attract five thousand viewers. It may attract no viewers. You might find that people enjoy when you stream video from brainstorms in your conference room or you might find that you only attract viewers when your celebrity spokespeople are hosting the stream. Give it a shot in various formats and track your results to see how they map back to your overall marketing goals.
Oh – the selfie stick. Right. One big downside of these apps is arm strength. Who wants to hold their phone up during a basketball game or a concert or a press conference? Periscope should sell a branded stick through Twitter. I’d buy one.
Meerkat vs. Periscope: Top Line Takeaways for Mobile Live Streaming