What is Meerkat, what does it do, and how can I use it for business?

So if you’ve not already heard about it, a new buzz in social media is Meerkat. Essentially this App (currently iOS only) allows anyone to stream live video from their iPhone. It’s taken off very quickly and since it’s launch at the end of February it’s already got over 300,000 users though this is growing rapidly.

Although there are already Apps out there to allow live streaming, the beauty of Meerkat is that it’s very simple to use and integrated with Twitter. This means it’s piggy backing on to a huge existing channel rather than trying to build a userbase from scratch. You use your twitter account to sign in, and Meerkat posts to Twitter whenever you stream. This gets you viewers pretty much instantly and already leverages your existing Twitter following. Also, when people you already follow on Twitter sign up to Meerkat and start streaming, you get notified from Meerkat itself which works really well.

Your video stream isn’t just a one way transmission with no feedback either. As with all social media, it’s all about engagement and conversation. With Meerkat this is done using comments (that are also posted on Twitter so can be followed up on later for yet more engagement) that appear on your screen as you’re live streaming. So people can ask you questions, or give you feedback, as well as being able to like and retweet your stream.

As I was writing this blog I wanted to grab some screenshots so started to live stream some of my ramblings as I went along. Within 30 seconds I had a couple of viewers so I spoke about what I was doing and got some comments which was perfect to show how it works. A picture paints a thousand words and all that ☺

I can hear you saying that this is all very cool but what are it’s practical uses, especially for business and why should people use it? I can personally see loads of uses already and I’ve bullet pointed a few of them below.

  • Live streaming from events.
  • Live interviews.
  • Product demonstrations.
  • Behind the scenes footage.
  • On the road/on tour type series.
  • Live news coverage as it happens.

Companies like Redbull are already using it really successfully as it’s perfect for them; with their extreme events they can live stream behind the scenes and live footage which people really want to see. It doesn’t take much thinking to work out ways you can use it yourself and your business either. As well as the live stream you can save what you streamed too. That way you can re-use that content again and put that out on platforms like YouTube to get even more bang for your buck.

So what about the negatives? I’ve already seen comments online about privacy, much in the same way as some people were worried about Google Glass and the ability to video people or things that either don’t know or don’t want to be filmed, especially live. To me this isn’t an issue but I can see why some people may think otherwise.

One risk to Meerkat themselves is a little known App called Periscope that does a very similar thing though. This wouldn’t be such a threat but Twitter themselves recently bought Periscope. There is talk of them making this part of Twitter itself which would obviously be a big problem for Meerkat if it became part of the native platform.

For more info then check out http://meerkatapp.co/ and give it a try. And of course you can find me on there too at http://meerkatapp.co/richardjeaton

As forward thinking businesses and business people become more and more transparent, why not show people what you’re doing live as you’re doing it? It doesn’t get any more transparent than that!

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