Meerkat vs. Periscope: The battle of the livestreaming apps

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Live streaming video across the web isn’t a new advancement in technology, but two new apps have made live streaming via a mobile device the next big thing in social media. On February 27th, Meerkat was launched, and one month later on March 26th Twitter released their own live streaming app, Periscope. Only one month in, and these apps are changing the way in which we consume and share information. Where we once thought of tweets with images and video snippets was an effective way to get up to the moment details on current events, we can now use livestreaming apps to see the world exactly as it is, through someone else eyes, in real time.

Qik, a very early mobile live streaming app from 2008 was retired by its parent company in March 2014. Skype acquired Qik in 2011 for $150 million. The new Skype Qik service was launched in October of 2014 to little fanfare, proof that being first to market doesn’t always guarantee dominance in the field. It appears that the era of mobile livestreaming has finally begun.

Meerkat proved to be a big hit at the South by Southwest (SXSW) music festival in Austin, Texas, but once Twitter blocked Meerkat from accessing its social graph, the downfall of Meerkat was inevitable. The inability to auto-follow your social network on a new app is a social media deal breaker; searching for individual friends on an app is a cumbersome task that the average user won’t bother with.

Out of the gate, Periscope appeared to be the winner in the mobile live streaming arena thanks to their advantage: Twitter’s social graph. Periscope does include other features not available on Meerkat, a list of recent streams, GPS map to show where the broadcast is streaming from, and a saved video of the broadcast for 24 hours.

In the past few days streams with a large number of viewers have included: an up-close look at the East Village explosion site, behind the scenes taping of a television show, and a front row view of WrestleMania 31.

Live streaming isn’t likely to replace other forms of social media that users have grown accustomed to, but it will add a new layer to the existing social media landscape. Brands can use the medium to:

  • give followers transparency in day-to-day operations
  • provide up-close chats with key people in the organization
  • offer question and answer sessions
  • broadcast breaking news
  • offer exclusive giveaways

With the number of ways businesses can utilize live streaming to their advantage, it would be best to jump on the live streaming bandwagon, while you can still reach all of your followers for free.

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