By Kristina Keeling
Trends in social media come and go, and the big trend right now is live streaming. So how are we, as PR professionals, supposed to know if we should jump on the bandwagon or let it run its course? This week, we take a closer look at the live streaming trend to see if this is something we should take seriously.
Life On Air released this mobile live streaming app in February 2015. When you start recording, it sends an automated tweet telling others that you are live via Meerkat. It was a huge hit – for the first few days – and then twitter decided to pull the plug on its Application Programming Interface (API). Without this software, Meerkat couldn’t integrate Twitter’s social graphs. So what does this mean? Well, when new users joined, they weren’t automatically connected to those they followed on Twitter. This hinders Meerkat because users won’t be automatically notified by the app when friends are broadcasting unless they manually build their followers. This, in turn, means people will not be on the app.
In response to Twitter’s decision to block access to their API and social graph, Meerkat’s CEO, Ben Rubin, told Yahoo Tech, “We are definitely going to start our own network. We are already starting to decouple the social graph.” In the meantime, the app released an update to help users connect, so now users can search for others by their Twitter username.
Why was Twitter so intent on shutting down Meerkat? Well, with a quick Google search, I found out that Twitter bought a competitive app, Periscope, in March 2015 – just after Meerkat launched. Periscope works similarly to Meerkat in that it allows others to know when you are live streaming via tweets and notifications. Twitter pulled their API and made it harder for Meerkat to be integrated with the platform, thus making Periscope the only live streaming app that is seamlessly connected to Twitter.
A quick breakdown of the apps
The layouts of the two services are different, but both are user friendly. When you open Meerkat you are brought to a “landing page” where you can let your followers know what is happening. In Meerkat you are able to schedule live streams, so you can let your followers know that you will be live in the near future or that you are talking about a topic right now. When you scroll down on the landing page you can see who is live now, and further down you can see what is scheduled.
When you open up Periscope, you see who on your followers list is live, followed by featured live streams and your followers’ most recent live streams. Periscope also offers a world map and a list view of who is live.
In short, both apps offer attractive features.
Which one should I use?
In terms of popularity, Periscope is definitely winning the race between live streaming services. Each app, however, has its own advantages and disadvantages that may suit your personal preference. Personally, I enjoy the world map on Periscope seeing who is live streaming around me, but I do like how you can schedule live feeds on Meerkat. Since I downloaded the apps, I have definitely checked Periscope more often, as it has the advantage of notifying me when the people I follow are live streaming.
Live streaming is definitely still in its infancy. I was expecting to see more people I personally knew using the apps and was surprised at how few used them. I do think that live streaming will gain more popularity when major events, such as pro baseball and football championships roll around. Live streaming apps will have an advantage because they will allow people to feel like they are really at the event. Celebrities and major influencers in the social media world will be able to live stream the backstage experience, or other things at major events.
“The Sleeping Giant of Live Streaming”
Periscope and Meerkat might soon have some competition in the live streaming realm, as YouTube recently released its own live streaming capabilities. YouTube will likely target different audiences for its live streaming services, though. Right now, YouTube live streaming is popular with the sports and gaming audience. Once more YouTube “creators” jump on board the live streaming trend though, YouTube may be the go-to destination for live streaming.
I think that live streaming is here to stay – for a while, at least. It is a great tool for instant news and entertainment. What do you think? Is live streaming here to stay? Comment below with your thoughts on Meerkat, Periscope and YouTube Live, and don’t forget to follow IPR on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.