Could Meerkat bring social live streaming to the masses?

The growing impact of short form video content continues to increase at pace following Twitter's recent update to allow in-timeline videos.Last week, the San Fran company announced the purchase of Periscope; the live streaming iOS app that allows users to instantly live stream from their phones and post it on Twitter. Users can either stream publicly or invite users privately.

In any normal week this might have flown relatively under the radar, but with the annual SXSW festival underway (at the time of writing), the buzz around the already available Meerkat app has been growing. At this moment in time, Meerkat has been live a few weeks, but has already generated an impressive groundswell of interest, with a number of celebrities and journalists jumping in to live stream themselves.

It works in much the same way as Periscope, but as Periscope is still in beta and Meerkat is live, they have a little head start on the competition. If your Twitter followers follow you on Meerkat, they can choose to receive a push notification whenever you start a stream. Watchers can 'restream' the stream to their followers in a similar manner to retweets. Additionally, you can add text updates whilst streaming to create more context to what your streaming and engage with viewers in the stream. Once you have finished the stream it can be saved locally on your phone, but not in the cloud.

You can also schedule streams, so for instance you could setup a weekly live stream to review the latest sports news or similar (as some early adopters have been doing). As other bloggers have alluded to; this feature could be the make or break for the app in terms of longevity - users will be forced to think more strategically around content creation, which could certainly benefit those users looking to build a regular live stream show ala weekly podcasts.

Both Meerkat and Periscope play heavily on the story telling trend that is becoming increasingly popular with the millenial generation, and give users yet another chance to engage with their fans and followers in a more personal way.

Along with the backing of Twitter, Periscope could be propelled forwards and driven by the uptake of Meerkat, but even the creator of Meerkat, Ben Rubin, is wary of the formatIndeed, shortly after the announcement that Twitter had acquired Periscope, news broke that they were restricting Meerkat's access to Twitter's social graph. Despite that, Rubin and the team at Meerkat have been upbeat about the restriction.

Aside from the wariness around new social video apps, and indeed any new social app labelled the 'next big thing', the opportunities from a sports marketing perspective are exciting.

Sports teams and organisations could live stream Q&As with athletes, encouraging questions through the live stream and providing a personalised experience for fans. Athletes could give fans greater insight into their lives and build their fan base through engaging livestreams; perhaps behind the scene tours of stadiums or training facilities.

Ultimately, the success of apps like Meerkat and Periscope (when it launches) will be down to the content; whether that's brands buying in and getting involved or the athletes and fans innovating to create engaging content.

One thing is for sure though; innovative mobile video solutions are impacting social media more than ever before, and that can only ever be a good thing for the fans. Organisations and teams will have to continue to look for ways to engage their audiences across the latest platforms, and with the audience moving across a wider range of platforms, content is no longer king, but the dictator.

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