Could Meerkat App Be The Next 'Big Thing'?
With Meerkat App you can finally be a 'fly on the wall' and that scares and amazes in equal measure.
Here in the U.K. we have become all too familiar with Meerkat’s by dint of Aleksandr Orlov, the star of the Compare The Market/Meerkat campaigns.
However, there is a new Meerkat in town who is already causing quite a stir.
<a data-cke-saved-href="http://www.comparethemarket.com/" href="http://www.comparethemarket.com/" rel="nofollow" "="" target="_blank">Meerkat App was launched a few weeks ago (at the start of March 2015) by Ben Rubin and while it is early days, it is clear that adoption rates are very high (particularly amongst both the VC and tech community). Influential US venture capitalist Mark Suster, has already written a highly complimentary blog describing,The Magic Moment of Meerkat and has dived head first in running an “Ask The VC” event on March 10 next.
How it Works
The Meerkat App allows users to stream a live ephemeral video direct from your iPhone into your Twitter feed. Once downloaded from the App Store you can open your Meerkat App, hit the ’stream’ button to start and you are live. It is that easy. It will simultaneously push a Twitter alert advising your Twitter followers that you are now streaming. Production and distribution of video content (with audio) in a matter of seconds, and at a negligible marginal cost. That is simply amazing.
Once your Twitter followers click on the link they can see what you are broadcasting in real time. Other features include the ability to ’schedule events’ giving advance notice of upcoming streams, as well as the ability to comment on streams (although these push to your Twitter feed which is not ideal).
The Use Cases
Having already enjoyed ‘front seat access’ to the Oxford Inspires 2015 event courtesy of a Meerkat stream initiated by well known London VC, John Henderson (White Star Capital), it is clear that live event streaming will be a primary use case.
I have also ‘sat in’ on a conversation between Azeem Azhar (Brandwatch) and his sister where he explained the benefits of Meerkat App to her (as well as to the wider live Meerkat audience).
Like any new platform the use cases are sure to multiply, with education being one of the most common use cases at the moment. But much like other video platforms e.g. Youtube, the range of content will be broad, with sex and porn likely to feature heavily (given the intimate and immediate nature of the medium). How long before Meekat has it’s very own Zoella ?
However, despite the acclaim the current setup does have some major drawbacks (some of which will undoubtedly be ironed out in the coming weeks).
Due to the unplanned nature of the medium you have ’to be lucky’ in that a push notification or tweet notifies you when someone starts streaming and you have to be ‘free’ right at that point to actually view. Deferred consumption is increasingly the norm for most content (where people consume content when it suits them best) so the ephemeral nature of this leads to a poor experience for the majority (who click the link to find the streaming is over). Hence, for busy professionals the weekend is likely to represent the best time to tune in (and the best time for marketeers to capture some attention).
Shorter streams can be over by the time you actually click through, again leading to a poor user experience.
Low Connectivity issues means that some streams do not render until the connection strengthens.
Like any platform the value is in the content. The current gamification approach includes a Leaderboard based on activity rather than ’audience votes’ when the quality of the content should be a primary driver instead. Similarly initial streams are likely to lack quality given the context (unplanned/ unscripted/ real time nature).
The current active user base is likely to correlate heavily with active Twitter users, and like all content platforms the majority observe passively, with content producers being very much in the minority.
Similarly, despite the strong design execution there are a number of issues to flag:
The wider public may not be too emamoured being filmed given the ease with which live video can now be produced and distributed in real time.
Twitter may not take to well to all this new activity piggy backing on it’s infrastructure.
The majority of Twitter users may not currently be plugged in enough to see the benefits (given to date its adoption has primarily been via the tech community).
Unless the use cases prove to be compelling, and the content of sufficiently high quality it is likely many will depart the app viewing it as a fad before it settles on some compelling use cases.
However, the benefits are compelling and from a marketing perspective, it represents yet a very powerful broadcast mechanism, that marries ’distribution at a click’ - which is a simply amazing leap.
Those who have built a large Twitter follower base and have a track record of producing quality content are likely to benefit the most from this new application e.g.Gary Vaynerchuk, Mark Suster and Saul Klein.
In the meantime, everyone from Vine to Twitter to Snapchat to Livestream will be watching closely - after all the offering is not a million miles away from what they can do with some minor tweaks.
With Meerkat App you can finally be a ’fly on the wall’ and that scares and amazes in equal measure.
Alan Gleeson is a digital marketing strategist based in London. Follow Alan on Twitter: @alangleeson
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