Until the start of this year ‘live stream’ was a term that only existed in the lexicon of desperate football fans that couldn’t access Sky TV.
And then a few big things happened; Meerkat became one of the biggest, most talked about and used apps at this year’s SXSW, Twitter got their wallet out and dropped $100m buying Periscope and David Beckham tried his hand as a tech entrepreneur by investing a rumoured £2m into a little known app called myeye.
It was this combination of events that really put ‘personal live streaming apps’ on the map. But what are they all about? And are they worth businesses sniffing their noses at?
After briefly testing Periscope at our recent Charity Tech Pub Quiz we thought we would take the three biggest live streaming apps for a ride (there are many others entering the market) to see what they are all about and how or if marketers could use them to their advantage.
Here’s what happened.
I first came across Periscope when I saw a tweet from Radio 1 DJ, Huw Stevens. Huw was doing a live tour of the Radio 1 studios as people tuned in and tweeted right there and then. Watching it felt strangely entertaining, despite the actual content being slightly dull.
The app is really easy to use. Once downloaded you can sync with your twitter or Facebook account and you’re off. Simple as that.
In the app you can see if anyone you are following is currently live streaming and you are also offered up some ‘featured content’.
A world map gives you an overview of ‘Periscopes’ that are live across the world at that moment, so if you are particular intrigued as to what Rayan is up to in Bouchamps-Les-Caraon, then by all means join him.
Interestingly, the Periscope website doesn’t offer you the chance to choose a broadcast to watch as you can on the app (suggesting they want to keep users in the app), however they have recently released a ‘couch’ feature where you can flick through live streams at random (it’s on odd world out there)
The most exciting bit is, of course, when you start live streaming. It’s as simple as typing in a title for your broadcast and hitting go. It goes without saying that your content is important here. If you film your colleague sitting working at his desk (as I did) you’re not going to get too many people joining. However if what you have to show is of interest you will see the ‘viewers’ flood in (so long as you have chosen to make the broadcast public not private).
While they are watching, viewers can write comments and questions as well as being able to shower you with digital hearts if they are particularly pleased by what they see.
Once your broadcast has finished it is available for anyone to watch on the app for 24 hours before it disappears, however there is an option for you to save the video to your phone if you want to share it later. You can also go into old broadcasts to see some basics stats including how many people viewed, commented and liked etc.
It feels like Periscope has the most brand equity in this space, partly boosted by their acquisition by Twitter, and you can see why. It looks nice, its simple to use and they have left room for interesting features.
When I started looking at live streaming apps, most people I mentioned Meerkat to recognised the name but had no real clue about what it did. Meerkat was the original big player on the scene. It found it’s place in the spotlight at this years SXSW where it was the talk of the town, but since Periscope was acquired by twitter, the hype around Meerkat seems to have died down.
Much of what the app can do is the same as Periscope and getting up and running with a live stream is just as simple. While the actual design of the app is not quite as pleasing on the eye, Meerkat does have some great additional features that could particularly benefit businesses.
Users can, for example, schedule broadcasts for later and also embed those broadcasts into websites or blog posts – meaning that you could have a decided space or page on your site showing when the next broadcast is coming up.
Interesingly, Meerkat have also gamified broadcasts – giving users points for the different actions (when you do a broadcast, when you get a comment or like etc.) – building some competition within the app and giving users a reason to keep broadcasting on a regular basis.
The biggest benefit that Meetkat has over Periscope is that users can watch the live streams through the website (which for some strange reason you can’t do on Periscope) – again a big benefit for businesses using it who’s audience are likely to be sitting at their desks.
The publicity around myeye was the real inspiration for this blog post. While the interest around live streaming apps had laid dormant for a while, an injection of David Beckham onto the scene stirred everyone’s interest once more. Beckham invested in the start up because he saw them as the future of social, which to be fair they legitimately could be.
While many of the features again are the same as Periscope and Meerkat, myeye have really focused on the look and feel of the app and the user experience.
Users are invited to flick around the screen to see what is happening now, and are presented with a beautiful spinning globe allowing them to delve into someone’s life anywhere around the world. You do also have the option of a ‘lucky dip’ where you get to see a random video (I got a bloke stroking a Parrot, obviously.)
Another interesting unique feature of myeye is the ability for users to adjust privacy settings and geography – an essential feature for any business who wants to control the audience watching their broadcast (especially if some of the content is private and confidential.)
For what it’s worth, my prediction is myeye will be the big one of these apps in the future – they have the investment and the design nous to make a really beautiful app that can be used by all manner of audiences.
It’s a strange, strange world out there. It seems there aren’t too many people actively using these apps to live stream at the moment, but what they do share with the world is frankly odd and I struggle to see how it is of any interest, relevance and importance to anyone who might tune in.
One audience who certainly aren’t using these apps are businesses (apart from one bloke who was giving tax advice over a pint in the pub) and I believe this is a huge missed opportunity. Think about it – the whole world as your audience, ready to tune in there and then to not only listen to what you have to say, but also interact with you through their own social channels. It’s marketing gold dust.
You saw Steve Jobs take to the stage in his turtle neck to launch the new iPhone. Well, you too could have your moment in the limelight by inviting current and potential customers to tune into your live stream as you launch and talk through a new product or service (creating a video that can in turn be used later.)
Who reads big long printed annual reports anymore? Why not get your CEO on Periscope talking through the numbers and a look ahead to next year while fielding questions from employees and customers alike.
Everyone wants to take a look under the bonnet of a business – especially if what it does is particularly interesting. Use a live streaming app to give a tour of your warehouse, innovation lab, whatever might tickle your audience’s fancy.
Forget your boring talking heads – why not get a customer to sing your praises as a live stream broadcast where prospective customers can ask them questions there and then. Risky? Yes. Ground breaking? You betcha.
What better way to communicate with your staff than doing a live ‘Ask Me Anything’ session over a live stream where you field questions. Exciting hey?
There’s a whole world out there. Go and watch it.