How The Meerkat App Is A Game Changer For Live Streaming
This is the most exciting app that has emerged in 2015. Meerkat is the app that's making live streaming accessible to everyone - not just to premium productions (that are extremely costly and time consuming). In fact it is the single best thing to happen to the internet since Twitter. Meerkat is in its infancy- it was only released on the 27th February but has blown up (almost globally) since. There are a ton of VCs, entrepreneurs and product designers based in San Francisco using the app on a daily basis to live-stream to hundreds, sometimes a couple thousand users at once.
So to break it down, Meerkat allows users (anyone not just verified users) to stream live video to their Twitter followers. It's specifically designed for Twitter so if you're not on that, then time to stop reading this. Ben Rubin who is the brains behind this game changer had previously run another live streaming app called Yevvo, which at one point according to The Verge had over 400,000 users. Rubin shut it down in December 2014 claiming "there was no heartbeat". And he was right, his previous app didn't quite hit the mark even though it was probably just on the tipping point.
Meerkat in my opinion can be described as the adult version of Snapchat. And yes they can be compared. Their branding is eerily alike, albeit a very cunning move from the designers to align themselves with the popular photo and video sharing app. Snapchat is mainly used by kids though and most people over 25 haven't got a Swiss cheese how it works. One thing that's hard to ignore is that Meerkat is being used by techies. There's a distinctive business-like feel about how the app is being used to share content, stir debate and connect with audiences. The Apple event on Monday kickstarted a lot of discussion via this app and I've enjoyed dozens of hours of watching stream after stream of product designers and VCs give their two cents on the tech of the Apple Watch.
What it doesn't do are replays... this is a good sign as it makes the content super organic and users know not to expect huge production value on steams. In fact it takes the fear and costs away from producing videos. It's hard to tell the reach of the app so far. I'm based in Ireland but all of the streams I have watched have been from users in North America. And this makes it incredibly addictive - I'm only one touch away from accessing people that before I would never have had the opportunity to sit in front of.
As mentioned, the app so far has been pretty much untainted by commercial opportunists. But I think we all know that it is only a matter of time. This morning I watched Vincenzo Landino who was live-streaming about community building with Meerkat. I was able to comment directly from the app (which also syncs to my tweets) to ask him if he thought Meerkat would change the landscape for brands.
@vincenzolandino Ireland - how do you see this changing the landscape for brands?— LoJo (@Louise_Johnston) March 11, 2015
And the greatest thing? He was able to respond to me in real-time. There's this huge sense of satisfaction when this happens by the way. Vincenzo spoke of how Meerkat gives users/brands access to audience's pockets, their hands and eyes. Having the power to be a notification on someone's device is the most important tool that Meerkat offers. You can tell your followers when you are going live through scheduled programming which gets sent as a tweet and get right inside their phones. For brands, the notification screen is the game changer for connecting with customers.
It can be said that notifications are the new email marketing. And Meerkat in a strange way for brands might just overtake emails. Vincenzo discussed how in the past, email addresses were the power tool, now being a Meerkat notification is that. Bold statement, but with the global hype of this new app, I think he might just be right. Brands should be thinking how they connect with people's mobile devices and how they can become a notification.
Meerkat right now appears to be the perfect platform for promoting personal brands, that is until brands themselves know how they can take advantage of it. Having the power to reach individuals by the means of a single touch is gold. We don't know how long the app will be around for but I think these guys have begun to change how we communicate online. There's one obvious point to make - Meerkat has the potential for programming almost like a TV channel... and audiences don't seem picky on production levels - it's the content that matters.
Go download the app and get involved - the future is Meerkat.