The latest thing to hit the social media world is live video streaming via your phone with the ability to respond to the audience’s comments in real-time. Whereas live streaming isn’t new (I arranged to live-stream a presentation from a tradeshow in 2011 and livestream.com was founded in 2007), the idea of one-click to video share and then responding to a mass group of people who are watching is taking streaming to a whole new level.
For those of you not yet familiar with Meerkat or Periscope, they are smartphone apps (although you can also access feeds on your computer) that allow the user to start a live stream from his or her phone or watch one. Both apps connect to your Twitter feed so that anyone with a Twitter account can provide written comments as the stream is going on (see screenshot).
Meerkat and Periscope are both considered about two months old, and while I won’t weigh in on which one will “win,” I will mention that Periscope was bought by Twitter, so it will definitely have a leg up. (Although I like the name, logo, and cheekiness of Meerkat better!) Some people have said that Meerkat is more buggy, but in doing research for this blog post, I found that both apps essentially had the same functionality and behaved the same (with the exception that Periscope will allow you to replay a stream whereas Meerkat won’t).
As both apps are pretty new, using them in the near-term future will work best for companies that are marketing to a younger demographic. A recent Horizon Media’s WHY Group poll found that 50% of the 18-34 age group said they either use or would try the apps. The closest usage/interest was half that – 25% – among 35-49 year olds. Check out the full stats in this Social Media Infographic. (As an informal poll, I asked a bunch of my friends in the 18-34 demographic if they had heard of either app and the answer was “no” from all of them. Both apps have a ways to go in terms of mass adoption; although, getting to a million users in 10 days is a pretty impressive start.)
Beyond age group, I would imagine that using either tool would also work for companies that are marketing to 1) a group who loves to experiment and try new things, 2) other marketers who want to get their feet wet in the latest craze, or 3) a pre-built-in audience such as those with a huge number of social media followers or reality stars.
While people right now are mostly experimenting with how to use live video streaming (like Glidden’s Periscope where people could watch paint dry), it will most certainly hit its stride as a marketing tactic soon. For those who are considering just statically streaming their upcoming live event, I would say you’re missing the point.
The true genius of Meerkat and Periscope is the interaction. As someone live-streams, watchers can comment and ask questions, which appear right on top of the stream in real time. This is what’s new, different, and compelling.
Tips for Live Video Streaming
Some immediate tips come to mind for marketers looking to try live video streaming:
- If your company likes to have everything that goes out into the world be extremely polished, only use corporate language, and be approved by ten people first, then Meerkat and Periscope are not for you. There is a certain level of spontaneity and rawness to live streaming that won’t work for every company.
- Make sure the person conducting the video stream is outgoing and can be entertaining. Or pair your technical expert with a “host” who is gregarious to ask the questions and keep the conversation going. (I’m thinking of you, Dan Sally!) As the stream is essentially one person interacting with a screen of comments, he or she needs to be able to carry the event.
- Think of your live stream as a mini-campaign (within your larger campaign). (You don’t want only two people to show up – that would be lame. Unlike traditional webinar software, Meerkat and Periscope tell you how many people are watching.) For your first one, ask a few employees to participate and use seed questions. Also ask some of your most loyal customers if they would be willing to log on and get the conversation going. Tweet about the live stream event as it’s coming up and also as it’s going on. Perhaps put info about the upcoming stream in your signature line for a week to increase awareness. Tell prospects about it. Don’t go in and just expect people to show up.
- As with any tactic, make sure you have a next-step planned for people whether that is downloading an e-book, tuning into your next live stream, or sending you an email to get a free t-shirt.
- Make sure whatever phone you are streaming from has a fully charged battery as, apparently, live streaming takes a lot of battery power.
Stay tuned for my next blog post on ways to incorporate live video streaming in your next inbound campaign.