It was mere weeks ago that video live-streaming apps Meerkat and Periscope launched, but celebrities, politicians and businesses are already experimenting with new ways to use the social media tools.
If you’re unfamiliar, both services allow you to capture and broadcast video, live, with your smartphone. Meerkat first made waves at this year’s South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas, where it was used in conjunction with live sessions. Periscope soon followed with a prominent source of support: Twitter (TWTR), which acquired it. Both are aggressively competing to become the dominant tool for video streaming, much as Facebook’s Instagram has for photo sharing.
As with any social media newcomer, many organizations have tried to capitalize on the apps’ sudden popularity—with varied results. Here are some stories from the field.
Pop star Katy Perry is one of the most popular online personalities having amassed 67.8 million Twitter followers and already showing how social-media savvy entertainers can use the live streaming tool to connect with fans.
She recently used Periscope to promote her Epix concert movie by instantly broadcasting the event with fans around the world to generate more coverage for the flick.
Later, at a screening she took the app’s use one step further by streaming both the film’s pink carpet arrivals and post-showing Q&A, encouraging followers to tweet along with the hashtag #PerryScope.
When asked by Mashable about the rise in live streaming video and its potential downsides (for example, fans might use it to illegally film concerts), Perry wisely responded by saying “you’ve got to embrace the future or you’re left behind … I embrace them mostly as long as they’re not obtrusive.”
It’s astute advice and a smart move given how tech-savvy her audience is and stands in stark contrast to moves made by musicians such as Jack White who have banned mobile phone photography at gigs.
In the past, artists have used YouTube and Ustream for live event coverage, but Periscope and Meerkat are a far more cost and labor efficient tool because it requires only one employee with a smartphone, instead of a team of professionals, to broadcast quality video.
The live streaming apps’ possibilities go beyond just streaming red carpets: Artists could use it to instantly share breaking news (therefore bypassing traditional media outlets all together), debuting new songs and even launching lucrative advertising content.
Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels has proved there are several ways television executives can use the video apps to their advantage.
In a digital age where consumers often seek out exclusive or ‘behind-the-scenes’ content, SNL has shown Meerkat (or Periscope) can be used to satisfy consumers’ desires easily, and more importantly cheaply.
The app was previously used to film backstage moments during a SNL episode hosted by Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, offering viewers second-screen viewing opportunities—a concept growing in popularity where people choose to engage or watch related content on several devices at a time.
Michaels also used Meerkat to engage with fans by broadcasting rehearsals of Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show monologue, adding to the program’s focus on creating shareable online content.
Given how popular it has become to live-tweet events like awards shows and the Super Bowl, it’s almost a given that other TV producers and sponsors will look to capitalize on the apps’ ability to share instantaneous content.
If Hollywood can find ways to monetize live streaming, by including advertising or product placement, it could be a great and easy way to boost revenue for the changing industry.
Regardless of his success with Meerkat, it’s important to note that Michaels has good reason to encourage his employees (and fellow industry execs) to experiment with the app, his company Broadway Video Ventures was among the first round of companies to invest in it.
MNSBC has found great use for live streaming video by using it to share exclusive news content with minimal effort.
Political correspondent Kasie Hunt first used Meerkat to record a live news conference in the White House briefing room that was easily shared by viewers.
With a simple push of a button, Hunt showed it can be an effective tool for building social media followings and sharing breaking news.
Hunt went one step further with her use of Meerkat on March 20 when she used it to film an interview with White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest that was simultaneously broadcast on NBC’s streaming service Stringwire.
The short clip proved that live video can not only be used for reporting news to a different audience but used for more than one purpose.
Hunt’s successful use of video streaming is indicative of the Obama administration’s embrace of social media, but could prove to be both a blessing and a curse for politicians who take advantage of the tool.
Those with a looming election or precarious reputations could benefit from direct contact with voters, the public at large and hard-to-reach groups.
Rand Paul and Jeb Bush are just some of the political heavyweights who have already signed on to Meerkat in an attempt to court younger voters.
Mitt Romney confessed to Mashable that he joined the service to connect with a younger demographic saying he was “just another old guy trying to keep up with the stuff the kids are doing.”
Of course, as former Obama adviser Dan Pfeiffer wrote on publishing platform Medium, Meerkat and Periscope also have the ability to capture a candidate’s mistakes (imagine if Romney’s infamous “47 percent” remark was instantly broadcast around the world when it happened). Politicians should be cautious, he adds, because the tool could hurt as well as help politicians.