Those of you with a passion for all things digital must have jumped on the live streaming bandwagon by now. This post was initially meant to be about Meerkat, the application that made waves at SXSW; however, given their recent tussle with Periscope and subsequent decline, I have readjusted my lens to look at the rise of live streaming applications as a whole.
The hype began about a month ago, when a clever little application called Meerkat took SXSW by a storm, allowing participants to live stream the event to all of their Twitter followers. Meerkat was not the first application with this functionality, but it was definitely the neatest that the world had seen. What I really like about the tool is that it sits neatly on top of your Twitter account; no need to maintain another account or try to scout for followers yet again. Twitter quickly removed this smooth functionality in anticipation of the launch of their version, Periscope. And by the looks of it, the application has stomped all over Meerkat, which fell to #523 on the US iPhone download chart within three days of Periscope hitting the market. Whilst Meerkat investors are definitely regretting their decision, the launch of Periscope exemplifies the benefits of having a new application seamlessly ride upon an existing one.
Technicalities aside, live streaming applications represent a concrete move towards bridging distances and connecting people. The content is accessible to anyone who can read your Tweets, allowing the user to reach out to a wide audience with the click of a button. The next time I am living it up at a concert, all of my Twitter followers can join the party. When I’m at a meeting in Mumbai, partners across the world can tune in. Another feature that I truly appreciate is the fact that exclusivity has been maintained – once the live stream is over, viewers cannot re-watch the content unless it is uploaded to YouTube or the likes. The fleeting nature of the content, like that produced with Snapchat, is definitely part of the charm.
What really blows my mind, however, is the sheer opportunity that marketers have to create live and exclusive content using applications like Meerkat. If I were a digital marketer, I would be running towards this opportunity at breakneck speed! I can already foresee brands using this to offer behind-the-scenes footage, invite consumers across the world to product launches, educate viewers with product demonstrations, conduct interviews with brand advocates and use this tool to drive brand storytelling in a way that has never been explored before. When I think of live streaming applications, I see an enormous opportunity to create an experience that is really different from the norm and truly engaging.
So, what is the downside, you ask? As an individual, the biggest downside is that you have no control over who is watching your content; especially if you Twitter account is not private. But then again, live streaming is really not about delivering specific content to specific people. I mean, if your content is personal in nature, you shouldn’t really be live streaming it, should you? Use Snapchat for that, please.
How personal is too personal, you ask? I say that we let the users decide that for themselves. When it comes to personal use, I strongly believe that applications like Meerkat are a great way to empower the millennial generation. Like it or not, millennials like to share their experiences online because it allows them to feel connected to the world around them. What better way to do so than to live stream your life from your phone? Love, love, LOVE it.
Like many digital trends, I do not hesitate to say that this could be a bubble. In fact, Ben Rubin, founder of Meerkat, said that, “People get excited by the novelty of live streaming, but it wears off.” I suppose that only time will tell.
As for me? I will be “Meerkat-ing” from D’s phone until they make a version for Android.
Live streaming from a location near you,
PS. I’m baaaack and I promise to never disappear like that again!