It doesn’t always take a lot for the online marketing community to get excited – take Ello, recently described as a great idea but the ‘Betamax of social media’? But we could be onto something with the next big thing, an app called Meerkat. It was announced at SXSW back in February, but officially launched in March 2015. SXSW does have a good pedigree of launching what turns out to be big players (Twitter and Foursquare were launched at SXSW in 2007 and 2009 respectively), but will Meerkat follow in the line of greats, or be the next over-hyped and never used app?
What is Meerkat?
Meerkat is a live streaming social video app. It allows you to stream content directly from your phone onto Twitter. You can subscribe to a particular Twitter user or simply attend a Meerkat session. While you are watching, you can interact with other Twitter users who are watching the stream, and retweet when you are watching. Streams are not saved though (yet?), so if you miss it, it’s gone.
How can marketers use Meerkat?
- Product Demos – These make really nice videos, so they will be great for live streaming. A simple demonstration of what your product can do, particularly if the concept is new, is a powerful way of engaging viewers and showcasing your product.
- Events – Now, I know a lot of these are paid for, in which case you might just want to tease some content on Meerkat, but for the thousands of free to attend events, being able to stream it to your Twitter audience is a great opportunity.
- Product Launches – Everyone can have an Apple style event (well, kind of) by streaming your new product on Twitter.
- Podcasts – Video podcasting hasn’t really caught on with people preferring to just hear their content, but interviews and other visual content could attract bigger audiences with the addition of viewer interaction.
- Brand building – Being able to show situations which sum up your brand in video format is very powerful: I am sure that some big pro-digital brands are already working on brand marketing video content to try to gain an audience early.
- Promotions – For marketers who are looking for more of a direct response, you could broadcast codes which can be redeemed in-store or on your ecommerce website – quite a nice way of tracking engagement and response to a new medium.
What does the future hold for Meerkat?
I think that the concept of such a simple way of live streaming is fantastic, we already know that video is a key medium. Meerkat combines second-screening to a single screen where you can watch and comment all at once, another positive. It’s interesting how the challenge for broadcasting is no longer having access to the technology, and instead is creativity and getting your content noticed.
But Meerkat already has some competition – Twitter is launching its own live streaming app called Periscope, and Periscope allows you to save your streams. Saving the streams does feel like a good idea, and unless Meerkat moves quickly, it might just be enough to put Meerkat in the ‘nice try but no cigar’ category.