No idea what I’m talking about? Do you even Twitter, bro? The Twittersphere has been abuzz since the launch of these two competing mobile applications back in March and the hype doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. In fact, these tools have the potential to change the marketing landscape in its entirety!
If that sounds hyperbolic, spend a few minutes playing around with either of them and the business possibilities become immediately apparent.
But what are Meerkat and Periscope exactly?
Both are live streaming apps that allow users to publicly share out video from their smartphones in real-time. They’re also integrated with Twitter so you’ll need to sign up there first in order to experience them.
Although Meerkat was first to enter the market, Periscope holds a massive competitive edge due to being acquired by Twitter for a reported $100 million. Both apps require authentication through Twitter and live streams are tweeted out immediately from your linked account the moment you start a broadcast. However, Twitter cut off Meerkat’s access to their social graph shortly after the launch of Periscope, making it much more difficult for Meerkat users to find friends and build their followings.
In fact, Meerkat’s reliance upon Twitter may ultimately prove to be its Achilles heel as it’s difficult to foresee it achieving any long-term success without a goliath like Facebook or Google swooping in to save the day.
Nevertheless, each app has been able to develop their own loyal followings, with major celebrities even taking up sides in the battle.
Perhaps in part to the Twitter connection, both apps also feature a large social component with viewers able to like, share, interact, and comment upon live streams as they’re taking place.
Meerkat and Periscope both debuted exclusively on iOS but have since become available for Android users (with Periscope having finally arrived in the Play Store as of yesterday morning).
Personally, after having experimented with both, I prefer the Periscope design as I find it more appealing to the eye and overall, far more intuitive than the alternative Meerkat currently provides.
For example, when a viewer likes your Meerkat stream, a single message appears stating as much. Within Periscope, viewers who like your stream are able to tap the screen and send an infinite amount of animated hearts which are meant to convey their appreciation for your broadcast.
While this may seem like a silly, almost superficial difference, in today’s era of social engagement, being able to feel that interaction is an essential part of these online experiences.
Periscope also appears to have an expanded international reach in comparison to Meerkat. While the latter was initially adopted by the tech and business industries, users of the former generally seem more interested in documenting lifestyle and cultural happenings.
In my opinion, another big advantage Periscope has over Meerkat is that it keeps your old streams attached to your profile for close to 24 hours so that anyone who missed your live broadcast has the opportunity to view it later. In comparison, once a Meerkat stream concludes, it is lost to the ether.
However, this point seems to have come down to a matter of preference and it’s a point that has already generated a healthy amount of debate. Some feel live streams are supposed to be viewed in real-time – the exclusivity of a “blink-or-you’ll-miss-it” event is a huge part of the appeal.
Keep in mind, though, that both apps do allow for the ability to save old streams to your device should you choose to share the video out to another channel in the future.
But which one is really leading the charge here? These statistics courtesy of VentureBeat are quite revealing:
And have a look at the sharp decline in the total number of Meerkat streams tracked on Twitter between the end of February and the beginning of April 2015 (keeping in mind that Periscope launched on March 26):
Regardless of which app you prefer, one thing is for certain: the branding game has a new and extremely versatile tool added to its arsenal.
Just think of how many possibilities this technology is able to provide your business with! You have the ability to host live Q&A sessions, hold interactive product demonstrations, document live events…and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
I was playing around on Meerkat last week and stumbled upon a live stream by @geoffgolberg, who at the time was walking through Times Square, NYC. He happened to come across a man named Duke Curry, a street saxophonist playing for tips. Geoff informed Duke that he was live-streaming the performance through Meerkat, at which point, the audience began to submit requests.
Geoff then relayed the audience requests to Duke who flawlessly banged out each and every one of them, note for note. It was stunning! I was one of roughly 100 people sitting in this virtual audience (he even played my request for “the Girl from Ipanema”!) who left the stream feeling thoroughly impressed. I’m now also aware of an incredible street musician that I wouldn’t otherwise have been exposed to – and I know his website! On top of all of this, if Duke were to create his own live stream and use it in combination with a tip-jar app, he’ll have created a brand new revenue stream for himself. Exciting stuff.
Social media has continually broken down the traditional barriers which exist between brands and their audience but the likes of Meerkat and Periscope seem to represent a gargantuan step forward in this respect. And we’re only getting started!