To be honest, I’ve avoided learning of the purpose of supposed social media newcomers Meerkat and Periscope. Upon learning that the two are virtually indistinguishable live-streaming apps, I decided that one of them is probably worthy of discussing for my blog.
For us meerkats that have been staying underground, Meerkat is a mobile application that allows users to stream live video from a mobile device with real time interaction. Now, live-streaming isn’t necessarily a groundbreaking concept, but Meerkay makes streaming and sharing the content simple, efficient, and engaging. Meerkat is connected through a users Twitter account and is shared to the user’s network for everyone to consume and interact with. The content vanishes, kind of like Snapchat, once the video is done airing. Meerkat has proven powerful because of its ability to spread content easily and quickly. Live-streams can be scheduled ahead of time and Twitter followers can be notified of upcoming lifestreams.
You didn’t think that brands would stay away from this platform did you? Even as a relatively new platform, launching in February 2015, people in a variety of professions are finding use for the app. Journalists have used it to provide live coverage of events, musicians use it to stream performances, cooks use it to broadcast their own low-budget cooking shows.
One notable brand that has jumped on using Meerkat is Red Bull. Red Bull used Meerkat to broadcast snowboarding trials from the Red Bull Double Pipe Finals in Aspen. Another is the Miami Dolphins, using the platform to cover a live press conference when it introduced free agent signee Ndamukong Suh. At its height, the Dolphins’ Meerkat broadcast had almost 1,000 viewers.
I think there is a great deal of opportunity on live-streaming platforms like Meerkat to broadcast live events and provide breaking news. It could be an effective PR tool for covering product launch events, sponsored events, exclusive announcements, or even for transparency purposes. Behind the scenes tours could be conducted in facilities or food service brands that show how the product is created from start to finish. Meerkat is yet another platform that bridges the gap between brand and consumer.
As marketers however, we must think ahead concerning how this platform could be used against our brands, or what could go wrong. Concerns I have with live-streaming apps like Meerkat include glitches, live backlashes (yikes), and using the app in an ineffective, boring way.
With it being such a new app, there are bound to be bugs and glitches that turn up and it might be risky to host and hype up a large live stream event, only for it to not work out. I’m sure most of the time things turn out fine but you do not want to put your brand in a position where it cannot live up to expectations.
Since the live-stream is able to be commented on and have interaction with viewers, it could very easily get out of hand if users pointed out something odd or inconsistent with the video and the brand. Users could potentially get into that “mob mode” and completely turn the live streaming went upside down and into a negative event concerning the brand.
Lastly, an app like this requires creativity and preparation to use it in a way that will be impactful for viewers of the streams. Brands need to recognize this is a platform that you don’t just sign up for and live-stream a random event without building buzz about it beforehand. For example, if Pandora wants to live-stream an exclusive sponsored performance of a popular artist, they need to utilize other platforms to communicate that this is an event that users will want to tune into. Utilizing IMC should be an integral part in getting viewers to tune into a live-stream event. Social media posts, press releases, mobile ads, and many other strategies will need to be developed in order to build a strong presence on Meerkat.
What are other opportunities brands have for Meerkatting? Have you seen any successful examples of live-streaming applications?