Meerkat and Periscope – The Future of Social Media is Live.

periscopeSo I’ve been playing with Live Streaming lately, using both the Periscope and Meerkat apps, and despite some flaws and limitations on both systems, I have to say that on the whole I’m pretty convinced by them.

Live streaming isn’t new.. there’s been numerous cheap and cheerful ways of doing it for years, but what makes these apps different is how easy it is to do, and how quickly you can build an audience.

All you need is a mobile phone and a twitter account. That’s it. Even on a fairly average 3G connection, the streaming capability is decent, with video and voice more than acceptable for real-time playback on your viewers mobile devices.

In terms of “Which is best – Periscope or Meerkat?” – for me, Periscope edges it. The user interface is simple, it was easy to build my audience through my existing Twitter followers (as you’d expect since Twitter bought Periscope), and I was up and running understanding everything there is to know in minutes.

Periscope also stores your video on Periscope (but just for 24 hours – it’s not trying to be YouTube), allowing your followers to watch on replay via the app but annoyingly – not via the web link that many people will see on Twitter. Meerkat has for some reason decided to avoid any replay feature (if you miss it live, you’ve missed it), but both give the option of storing the video on your mobile phone, so if you want them archived, you can upload them to YouTube later on).

So far, I’ve just been playing with Live Streaming – doing live demos during our social media workshops, and the occasional live social media tips, streamed to anyone who cares to turn up and watch them. And remarkably – that audience has been larger than I though it would have been. And that’s why I think there’s a real opportunity here for people and businesses to take advantage of (especially) Periscope – you already have the audience. Unlike so many new things under the banner of social media, you don’t have to spend time, and effort (and often expense) to grow your followers.. you already have them on Twitter. Assuming you let it, Periscope will automatically broadcast on Twitter that you’re live, as well as updating everyone using the app following you. My simple test broadcasts have easily attracted 75+ viewers, and (being honest) they’ve been pretty pointless so far!

This will change going forward, as we consider where Live Streaming could really benefit us. Workshops streamed live, the various conferences we get involved in, office fun and banter, behind the scenes, expertise tips and tricks – there’s loads of potential for using Periscope (or Meerkat if you’re on Android as Periscope are still working on their Android app – at the moment, it’s for the iPhone only).

Get in quick, there’s a real buzz about Live Streaming right now, everyone’s playing with it, and with the right message, you could find it delivers a better result that pumping out content on Facebook which is continually being squeezed in terms of who sees it. Now anyone can see what you want them to. Go Live – it’s quite possibly the future!

Nice Infographic comparing Meerkat and Periscope.