Meerkat and Periscope – what are they?

Dainty by name but powerful by nature – Periscope and Meerkat are a new wave of livestreaming apps that are taking the social media world by storm.

What do they do?

Released within weeks of each other, the apps let you use your mobile phone to capture and broadcast live, in-the-moment, video which can be shared directly to Twitter for audiences to view, comment on and engage with.

Is livestreaming a new thing?

Nope, there have been many significant others, Qik and Livestream to name a few. Google’s live on-air Hangouts are also growing in popularity.

So, why the current excitement?

Culturally, the explosion of apps such as Snapchat, Vine and Instagram make sharing every last detail of our lives seem like the normal thing to do.

Add into the mix the irresistibility of video and the fact that, technically, smartphones are faster and cleverer than ever and Wi-Fi, or a data connection, necessary for streaming video, is more readily available and cheaper than ever.

Is there a difference between them?

While there are subtle differences in the design of these apps it’s their functionality that sets them apart.

Meerkat, available on both IOS and Android, sends out a link automatically each time you stream. It also allows you to stream in landscape or portrait and lets you save the broadcast to your phone once it’s done.

Periscope, for now, is available on IOS only and cleverly allows you to broadcast your streams so that they can be viewed online afterwards. Posting to Twitter is optional, you can be as selective as you like with who you stream with, even private streams can be held.

How are people using them?

Brands have been quick to jump aboard; Adidas let fans watch as a Real Madrid football star signed his new contract, BBC journalists used it to livestream the Ferguson protests and retail giant DKNY gave its fans a glimpse inside its fashion cupboards.

Which one would we use?

Right now, Periscope. The Twitter-owned app is stealing the march in monthly active users, since Twitter disabled Meerkat’s access to its social graph. This previously allowed users to automatically follow any one on Meerkat that they already follow on Twitter – making the content discovery and promotion a little trickier.

However, if you’re targeting teens, they may well prefer the more ephemeral nature of Meerkat and quite like the fact that their content disappears from other users’ streams.

How should it be used?

It’s all about strategy, understanding your audience and finding a role for these shiny new toys that better helps your customers understand your world.

We’ve a couple of ideas to get you thinking:

  • Showcasing a new product or announcing a special offer
  • Produce a takeover with brand ambassadors or collaborators
  • Getting feedback on new ideas from your most valued customers
  • Livestream events or your presence at tradeshows and conferences
  • Giving an instantaneous peek into the world of your business

Happy livestreaming.