Meerkat & Periscope: Lifestreaming Is Here to Stay

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Social live streaming is the hottest trend right now as Meerkat and Periscope battle it out for the top spot in this incredibly popular user generated broadcasting space.

I find the whole concept of live streaming our lives, aka “lifestreaming,” absolutely fascinating.

Give someone a smart phone and they have the opportunity to become reporters with a choice. They can choose to share intimate details of their life by sharing something like their child’s first steps or vacation. Or conversely, they can make the choice to take on the role of world reporter by broadcasting major news events like a riot or storm. With the emergence of Meerkat and Perscope, the opportunities to report and they way we do so are only getting more interesting.

First things first. What is the difference between Meerkat and Periscope?

While Meerkat won the hearts of earlier adopters because it was the first on the scene, it was only a matter of time before some competition arrived. EnterPeriscope, Twitter’s live streaming app that allows you to “explore the world in real time through someone else’s eyes.”

So what is the difference? Simply put, not much.

Both apps allow a user to broadcast an event right from their phone, interact with others who are watching that live stream and in addition, both also thrive on push notifications(more on that later).

Sure you can argue that the interfaces have different looks or that one (Meerkat) will allow you to schedule broadcasts and one won’t. Since there aren’t enough major differences that would make a user decide to use both apps, live streamers are being forced to choose just one.

A digital dark cloud rolled over Meerkat when Twitter blocked them from accessing its social graph and now tech journalists are confirming the death and destruction of Meerkat which means it is inevitable for Periscope to be crowned the broadcasting King (although I believe it already has).

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

The Good

These apps are transcending the way we share our world and doing so in real time couldn’t be easier.

Unlike other popular social apps there are no filters, no special effects and no need for editing. Just name the event, start your broadcast and watch as people tune in to your stream. Once you are done click stop and that’s it…it doesn’t get easier than that.

Bad

No love for Android. That’s right these apps are only currently available on iOS. Since roughly 40% of smartphone owners have Apple that translates into  about 60% of smartphone users can’t even access these apps.

Next up, toodaloo battery! Not a surprise but live streaming is a battery life assassin and crushes data usage too.

I don’t believe bad is the best adjective for the next point, I guess potentially scary is more appropriate. Can you imagine a soldier broadcasting what they see during a war? Or imagine the role these apps would have had during Ferguson? While the need to see these events HONESTLY is necessary, the social implications of the general public seeing these things could have some impactful and potentially frightening implications. I do not mean to imply they should be censored by any means but I do fear for our future as we gain the ability to become reporters during controversial events.

The Ugly

Yawn, hello to more mundane content. As if our social streams weren’t already polluted enough with dull, repetitious and downright boring content. These apps give people just one more outlet to share less than interesting aspects of their life. Some of the streams that popped up on my phone this week? Several commutes home, walking the dog and ready for this one, someone drinking a glass of water. Now I realize what is interesting to me may not be interesting to someone else, and vice versa, but “lifestreaming” you drinking a glass of water is not something anyone needs to see.

My least favorite part of these apps however is the incessant push notifications.

While you can opt to turn these off, then you would kind of kill the entire point of following anyone. Is it possible to turn on notifications for certain people and off for others? I know I can stop following Meerkat on Twitter and that would help but beyond that is there anything? If so, please share details in the comments section. That would be fantastic.

The Future: Meerkat, Periscope and A New Way of Life

Live streaming, life streaming, whatever you want to call it, will only continue to gain popularity as we all continue to obsess and thrive in a culture of sharing.  The future of these apps is so interesting to me. The opportunities are endless.

IMG_8778My first thoughts go directly to how brands will jump into the game. I used Periscope at a brand event in Sacramento last week during my CMO’s discussion on trust and innovation and had over 150 people tuned in within less than a minute. I am excited to see how brand’s will integrate these apps into their social strategy. From live streaming investor calls and showcasing brand events to creating interesting content, these apps could potentially revolutionize how brands connect with their own employees as well as consumers.

Twitter has already given the world a front row look into the lives of A-Listers but can you imagine how wildly popular live streaming will become for celebrities? All I know is the world isn’t in need of any more behind the scenes looks into the life of Kim Kardashian, so I am hoping she sticks with Twitter and Instagram.

When it comes to weather reporting, these apps will no doubt be game changers.

Can you imagine the type of footage that will start to come in from storm chasers and even the average Joe? All I hope is that this doesn’t encourage unsafe behavior like we have all seen on YouTube. Some of those tornado videos are just too close for comfort.

The opportunities for social broadcasts are absolutely endless and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.

Have you found a Periscope user who has been wowing you with amazing broadcasts? I would love to hear about them. Please share in the comments below.

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