Over the history of the Internet we have seen countless social media networks launched, blossom, and in many cases, fall by the wayside. In the past five years alone we have seen the launch of Instagram (2010), Pinterest (2010), Snapchat (2011), Google+ (2011) and Vine (2012) – to name the more well-known entrants to the market.
Whilst Google+ (if indeed it is to survive) has yet to achieve significant inroads into Facebook’s domination and Ello is still not out of beta, Instagram, Snapchat, Vine and Pinterest have all made a huge impact in the short time they have been in existence.
Now there are two new kids on the block, Meerkat and Periscope. So what are they? What is their future? And can they be used for B2B marketing in any way that’s actually useful?
Both Meerkat and Periscope are live streaming apps that are run on a smartphone and link to Twitter. If you are new to the concept of live streaming, it basically means you can broadcast live from your phone’s video camera. Start the app and everybody watching can see what your camera sees. Does this herald a new dawn for the power of B2B web video?
There have been live streaming apps before, but they have been a little clunky and they’ve struggled to connect to any significant following. They have also been a little early to market as it is really only now that the three elements to support live streaming of video have come of age; the speed of mobile network connections, the capabilities of smart phone video cameras and the means to disseminate the stream – access to Twitter.
What sets Meerkat and Periscope apart is their ease of use. Click a button and start streaming via a link on Twitter.
Meerkat was the first to launch at the prestigious South by Southwest (SXSW) Festival where it was lauded as the breakout technology of SXSW 2015. (To put that in perspective, an unknown start-up named Twitter was widely considered the hit of the show in 2007 and another called Foursquare was the top app in 2009).
Meerkat linked to Twitter – making it not only easy to use, but more importantly easy for followers to find. Hit “stream,” in the Meerkat app and you’ll start broadcasting video from your phone’s camera. Meerkat sends an automatic tweet alerting your Twitter followers that you’re broadcasting. They can then click a link to watch what you’re filming. The video isn’t recorded, so when you stop streaming, it’s gone.
The app reportedly gained 100,000 followers in 15 days. At that point Meerkat looked set to be the next big thing.
Then Twitter took two steps; first they cut off Meerkat’s access to a Twitter user’s followers making it more difficult to create a fanbase for videos and secondly they announced their own product; Periscope.
Periscope had actually been in development a lot longer than Meerkat (which was developed in just 8 weeks) and has a few advantages which may prove crucial in the battle between the two and certainly help the case for its use as a B2B tool.
Periscope is almost instant – meaning that broadcasters can respond to question being asked by the audience – Meerkat has a 30 second delay making interactivity difficult.
Being developed by Twitter, Periscope has instant access to all your followers and profile information, something Meerkat has now lost.
Whilst Meerkat’s videos are gone once you stop streaming – and therefore anyone late to the party will miss them – Periscope can save your broadcasts.
Given it’s backing by Twitter, Periscope looks like the stronger bet for longevity over Meerkat – but social media is always a difficult game to predict – so who knows.
And so we come to the million-dollar question; what can these apps do for B2B?
Unlike many of the social media networks and apps launched over the past few years I actually think these apps, and Periscope in particular, could be very useful to the B2B marketer. Here are a few scenarios where live streaming could be beneficial:
- A product launch or other PR event
- A live demo of a product
- A how to instructional broadcast
- A live blog about your product or service
- A quick interview with a customer/industry pundit/Director etc
- A tour of the factory
- The journey of a product
- An interactive question and answer session
- An informal distributor briefing
And many more.
The benefit of doing these with an app rather than a professional set up is the feel of reality that you get – there’s no faking it, no glossing over things – it feels like an honest – and therefore trustworthy – channel. And the nature of these apps allow you to instantly set up an impromptu broadcast - recording something live, as it happens, that you might otherwise be unable to share.
Both Meerkat and Periscope are free and can be downloaded from the Apple Store and are said to be coming to the Android platform soon. So why not download them, have a play, and come up with your own ideas of how they could be used in a B2B context.