The latest live-streaming apps allow you to record or watch broadcasts from your mobile device. Two apps in particular, Meerkat and Periscope, seem to be capturing the most attention and attracting the most users. The buzz surrounding live-streaming apps really kicked off with the launch of Meerkat at this year’s South by Southwest Interactive. Many labeled it the “sweetheart” of the interactive conference, and not since the launch of Foursquare in 2009 had SXSW produced such an app hit. It didn’t take long for Meerkat to get some serious competition. As the app was gaining steam at SXSW, Twitter purchased Periscope to get in on the action and go toe-to-toe with Meerkat. Twitter even went as far as cutting off Meerkat’s ability to port people’s social connections over from Twitter to its own service. More on that here. General functionality of the apps is fairly similar, but let’s see how their features compare.
Meerkat’s function is the simpler of the two live-streaming apps. All you have to do is open the app, tap the stream button, and you are immediately broadcasting live. Meerkat will notify your followers that you are now streaming. Then, when finished, tap the stop button. Meerkat’s shelf life is only as long as you are streaming. Once you stop, the broadcast is gone for good. Although you can save the broadcast to your camera roll, and I imagine the option to share saved streams via the app will likely come down the pipeline. Periscope, on the other hand, automatically saves your streams for 24 hours, can be accessed by anyone who clicks on the Twitter link to the broadcast and can also be saved to camera roll.
Meerkat and Periscope certainly add another dimension to social media; and like other platforms, both apps allow you to interact with the broadcasts by liking, retweeting and commenting on the live streams from the people you follow.
But what about discovery? Social media users are always hungry for more and are constantly seeking new people to follow and content to consume. Both Meerkat and Periscope share their own display of featured streams when the app is launched, but Periscope also shares recent broadcasts from people you follow since streams are saved for 24 hours. And while Meerkat requires you to add new people via its search function, Periscope also makes it even easier by giving you an “add” button that is accessible while viewing the broadcast.
Meerkat and Periscope have been hits with social media early adopters, celebrities and media personalities. From citizen journalism to pay-per-view piracy, people are getting crafty with their uses of the live-streaming apps. As a marketer, I’m already thinking about the value of these live-streaming apps for our clients. From product announcements to events to audience engagement, there’s plenty of opportunity to leverage these apps to connect with customers and prospects.
With HD-capable mobile devices that can effectively stream over WiFi and cellular networks, live streaming is better than it’s ever been. Are you ready to go live?