If you are not already familiar with live video streaming, now is the time to join in the action.
In just a matter of weeks, there has been a massive increase in interest and use of live streaming, most of which can be put down to the introduction of two new apps: Meerkat and Periscope.
However Meerkat and Periscope have surprised us all by changing the way we use live-video streaming.
- They are mobile based: Previous apps required streaming from a laptop but now live streaming can take place anywhere at any time. All that is needed is a good Internet connection.
- They work with a click of a button: Other apps require some configuration and, at times, this can be frustrating. These new apps allow users to start a new broadcast with just one click.
- Social connectivity: Both these apps integrate with Twitter, which incorporates the social element, allowing users to reach a much wider audience than ever before.
Neither of these apps has reached perfection yet and both are working very quickly to improve their features.
The fact, however, is that both of these apps offer a whole new world of possibilities for audience interaction, which is paramount for social media success.
Interested to know which one works best?
Let’s survey their individual landscapes and see which one is doing the best job.
Meerkat – Easy user experience
Named after those adorably cheeky little creatures known for their ability to keep constant watch over their manors, Meerkat was the first app to offer live-streaming video for Twitter.
It was so popular, in fact, that Twitter tried their hardest to buy the business.
Their negotiations failed and it remains an independent start-up company.
One of the best things about Meerkat is just how user-friendly it is for both users and broadcasters.
The app has a clean and simple interface showing one main screen with only a few options. All available streams are listed in a visually appealing manner with an eye-catching image.
Another simple-to-use feature is the option to schedule a broadcast in the following 24 hours.
When you do this, the event will show up in the app feed, and the app will even send a tweet out.
Users can also subscribe to an incoming stream and, when the time is up, the app will send a notification to the users’ mobile devices.
Meerkat has also incorporated some gamification into the app by creating a leaderboard of broadcasters, which adds another interesting component to keep users engaged whilst incentivizing broadcasters to create more content.
The exact ranking information behind the leaderboard are not public, however, it’s been suggested they take three factors into consideration:
- Total number of people watching your stream.
- Total number of minutes of streamed video.
- Total number of comments.
Nothing is perfect and Meerkat does have a few shortcomings:
- It is difficult to find and follow the users you currently follow on Twitter.
- The act of finding users is a bit of a challenge. Even when you search by username, you are not shown a thumbnail to confirm the user’s identity.
Meerkat does distinct features for users and broadcasters:
Main Features for Viewers
- Comments: Users can interact with the broadcaster by posting comments that can also be pushed to Twitter as tweets. Viewers can browse previous comments to follow conversations.
- Retweet option: This allows retweeting of the broadcast title and link. However, there is no option to retweet comments from other users.
- Like option: Represented with a heart, this feature “likes” the tweet used to announce the broadcast.
- Browse through all viewers: Viewers’ thumbnails are displayed on top of the broadcast. Clicking on their thumbnail allows you to see their Twitter handle and bio, however, you cannot follow or interact directly with them on the app.
- Follow broadcaster on Twitter: Using this feature you can follow a broadcaster on Twitter, through the app, by clicking on their name during a live broadcast.
- Report stream: if you find something offensive or think it goes against the app’s terms of service, you can report the stream.
Main Features for Broadcasters
- Custom stream announcement: The app allows you to create a personalized tweet to announce your broadcast, which can include hashtags or specific keywords to generate more attention and traffic.
- Commenting feature: Broadcasters have the option to browse through old comments and reply to them.
- Saving the stream to the camera roll: Meerkat does not allow you to watch finished broadcasts. However, the recording can be saved on your smartphone to be used as a normal video file that you can edit and share on other platforms.
- Call-to-Action button: At the end of each stream, you can show viewers a call-to-action button that can be customized with the text and destination URL of your choice. This is ideal to maintain engagement after the broadcast has finished.
- Stream scheduling: Scheduling a future stream allows you to choose an engaging photo to promote your event. When users subscribe to a scheduled stream, they get notified when it is about to commence.
Seeing the avatars of all participants at the top of the screen can allow broadcasters to greet and engage with followers. Retweets and likes are also displayed as comments, so broadcasters can engage further by thanking people who take those actions.
Meerkat is probably a good option to get started with mobile video streaming, even though it still needs some work on the Twitter connectivity.
It is very focused on two-way communication between broadcasters and viewers, which is key to creating audience engagement.
- Scheduling Streams.
- Ease of use.
- Call-to-action button displayed after the stream.
- Option to save video.
- Not easy to follow users on Twitter.
- Stream not available to be watched at a later date.
Periscope – Expanded connectivity
As Periscope is owned by Twitter, the app offers a much better connectivity with Twitter than Meerkat does.
Periscope allows you to find all your Twitter connections very easily and add them to your Periscope account.
This connectivity is also present during live streams, where you can browse other users watching the same video and add them to your Periscope following list.
That feature does not stop there; you can also see their networks and follow those users too! This is a great way of quickly increasing your network by finding people with similar interests.
Similarly to Meerkat, on Periscope, people can only connect with each other within the app.
Following someone on Periscope won’t follow the same person on Twitter.
In other words, you can find your Twitter connections on Periscope and follow them, but your Periscope connections won’t be replicated on Twitter.
One great feature of Periscope is full-screen video, which only includes a few buttons and eliminates distractions from the stream.
However, comments from viewers include a thumbnail of the user, which can be distracting (there is the option to deactivate comments though).
Unlike Meerkat, Periscope does not have an option to favorite a video. However, you can share the broadcast with your network.
Periscope could be enhanced greatly with improvements to the commenting feature.
During a live stream, comments disappear after a few seconds – which may seem like a good idea to maintain a clean video layout – however, old comments cannot be retrieved, which could be an issue for broadcasters trying to respond to questions and engage in conversations.
Also, comments are not pushed to Twitter as tweets, limiting the exposure of the broadcast.
Another downfall is that broadcasters cannot comment in their own stream; which could be an issue in situations where verbal communication is not an option, such as noisy environments.
Now for the main features of Periscope:
Main Features for Users
- Access to past streams: Videos are uploaded into the Periscope server and can be watched at a later date, allowing users to watch content that was streamed at times when they were not available.
- Easy to follow users: See a comment that you like? Want to find the same user in other streams? Connecting with new people is easy with Periscope.
- Sharing stream: Periscope lets you share a stream with all your followers or specific ones, which is a great way to share interesting content with others.
- Report stream: As with Meerkat, you can report a stream if necessary.
Main Features for Broadcasters
- Video uploading: Periscope does not allow scheduling streams, so followers who are not connected at the commencement of your broadcast might miss it. However uploading the video after the broadcast solves this problem, allowing those users to watch it when convenient.
- Private broadcast: The app allows for the streaming of content with specific users, which is a great feature to deliver private content for paid services or membership only.
- Option to limit chat to certain users: If you are concerned trolls will access your stream, fear no more. Periscope allows you to receive comments only from users who are connected to you in the app.
- Saving to camera roll: As with Meerkat, you can save a stream for editing and sharing across other platforms.
- Post-stream statistics: After the stream finishes, Periscope displays basic but useful statistics that can help you measure engagement levels.
Periscope has huge potential due to support from Twitter. Even though the interface is more complex to understand at the beginning, this is compensated by high-quality video and the connectivity with other users.
- Private broadcasts.
- Finding Twitter connections is easy.
- Videos can be watched after the stream has finished.
- Large video screen.
- Post stream statistics.
- Does not allow scheduling.
- Does not include an option to drive traffic (eg. Call-to-action button).
- Limited commenting capabilities.
Live-streaming video has great potential to get messages out there by showing the action in real time.
Regardless of which app better suits your needs, the key to successful live streaming – on any social media platform – is developing a network of engaged users.
To do this, you need to have a clear idea of what you want to tell the world, when you want to do it and WHERE you want to tell it.
Do you have any experience with live-stream videos?
Have you considered using them for your business?
What are your main concerns and ideas?
Let me know in the comments section below.