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Nic Wilson, Senior Social Media Strategist, contributed to this post.

Disclaimer: This is not a blog post about a small carnivore and vertical tube with mirrors.

Meerkat and Periscope, two new social media technologies that allow you to stream a live-broadcast captured on your phone over Twitter. Two new social media technologies overshadowing F8, Facebook’s annual conference. And to think that only a few weeks ago discussion among the masses about mobile live-broadcasting via a social media platform really did not exist for the most part. Another reminder of the rapid pace and evolution of the digital world in which we live.

Immediately at Brunner we wonder how brands may capitalize on this new social media specific live-streaming technology. Via Twitter, our clients could stream live events, new product introductions, product demonstrations, and exclusive news or business announcements. Live-streaming through Twitter provides many possibilities for brand marketers. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s give you some background and examine each of the applications.

Meerkat, launched by a start-up, made a big splash at this year’s SXSW Festival which wrapped this past Sunday. Since then, Meerkat users have been growing by 30% a day. Periscope, a Twitter-owned app in beta until yesterday, is making headlines as the direct competitor to Meerkat. And it seems likely that Twitter moved up the launch of Periscope due to the rapid rise of Meerkat.

Both broadcast real-time live video from a smartphone via Twitter. And each allow viewers to comment and chat about the content of the broadcast. While Meerkat and Periscope share similarities, there are differences. The chart below compares and contrasts the two live-streaming apps:


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What else should we take into consideration? Well, Meerkat definitely has a head start in awareness and number of users. They also confirmed this week that they have received $14 million in funding, demonstrating financial backing. Meanwhile, Periscope is owned by Twitter which provides a host of advantages:

  • Seamless integration
  • Key differentiating features such as:
    • Auto-saving
    • Archiving (24-hours only; very Snapchat like)
    • Comments on streams appear instantaneously as tweets
    • Auto follow
  • Deep financial resources
  • Established network comprised of hundreds of millions of people on which they can promote the app for free

And most importantly, Twitter can exercise the power to limit Meerkat’s access to the Twitter social graph, a move they have employed in the past on Meerkat as well as other applications that tap the Twitter API. Recently, Twitter blocked the ability for Meerkat users to follow everyone on Meerkat that they currently follow on Twitter, functionality now exclusive to Periscope.

If we were placing bets, our stack would be on Periscope. But regardless of which app ultimately dominates, brands should explore the use of the technology. Learning and testing emerging technologies is critical to the evolution of your marketing mix. And as we referenced at the start, digital and social communication platforms advance rapidly. While your audience may not be on Meerkat and Periscope today, you’ll want your brand on the platforms and savvy by the time your consumers are viewing live-streams on Twitter in the next quarter or two.

One early watch-out for brand marketers looking to leverage Meerkat or Periscope concerns streaming your brand’s involvement in any sponsored live events like the Olympics, the Super Bowl, professional or collegiate sporting events, concerts, etc. Even though you may be a sponsor, streaming these types of events most certainly infringes on broadcast rights and copyrights. Consult your legal counsel and maybe even more importantly use common sense prior to live-broadcasting content for your brand.

Both Meerkat and Periscope provide a host of opportunity for brand marketers. Live-broadcast streaming via the Internet has never been so accessible and inexpensive now that it is possible through Twitter. How will you use these technologies? When will we see a Meerkat or Periscope live-stream from your brand in our Twitter feeds? Hopefully soon. In the words of Bill O’Reilly: Do it live!

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