Live video service Meerkat breathes new life into Twitter

Early users find three major use cases as this year's SXSW proves to be the testing ground for live video in the Twittersphere.

Live video service Meerkat's launch may well rise above the fray at this year's South by Southwest (SXSW) convention. After slews of invites the two weeks before, the service has taken off. Early users have found three major use cases as SXSW has proven to be the testing ground for live video in the Twittersphere:

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Meerkat

  1. Fixed feeds. Frank's pizza shop in Toronto went on full live stream of the kitchen. Given it was on for hours, almost everyone went first to that feed. In fact, early adopters realized that this could be a great way to tap into CCTV feeds and anywhere battery life would not be an issue for broadcast. Digital and social strategists should consider how to plan for live feeds at events and conferences. Meerkat could improve the service by creating a broadcast schedule or ability to follow a large number of feeds. Curation is key here.
  2. Person on the street. Folks like David Armano quickly saw Meerkat as a great way to share thoughts and conduct live broadcasts (see Figure 1). The key challenge was to stay on longer than 5 minutes so folks could catch up to the stream and watch. However, this application has a lot of appeal for live coverage at action-packed events. Digital and social strategists could employ a number of broadcasters on the street to cover an event, story, or issue. What would be nice would be able to pick different streams for a Hollywood squares like face off.
  3. Scheduled broadcast. The scheduled broadcast model may prove to be the more reliable approach. Amanda Coolong was early to schedule her SXSW AI Future panel at 11:00 am on Saturday March 14. This approach has the biggest appeal as potential viewers would know when to watch. Alan Gleeson got kudos as well for putting his Wales v Ireland game. This strategy may yield the most regular viewers and a programming guide and search would take the service to the next level.

David Armano Using Meerkat at SXSW15
David Armano Using Meerkat at SXSW15 Constellation Research

The Bottom Line: Meerkat breathes new life into Twitter

Keep in in mind many live stream services have failed to date with Vine being the most recent example of what could have worked but didn't. Six seconds was just not enough. Success requires the viral nature of community and social graph. As David Armano noted in his Meerkat stream of consciousness this morning, Twitter engagement has shifted to more broadcast than engagement. Meerkat changes the content stream to improve engagement as live video can.

Unfortunately, the recent battle by Twitter to cut off Meerkat will only add fuel to the fire as SXSW attendees rally to rebuild community and support. Meerkat will need to find a home for community and social graph but options such as LinkedIn and other networks may prove to be its savior should Twitter make the big fight about Periscope.

Preorder Disrupting Digital Business, published by Harvard Business Review Press In Q2 2015. Learn more.

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