Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. Using the Next Hot Thing shows your audience that your business is up-to-date, but live streaming video has to pass the same sensibility test as all your small business marketing possibilities:
- Do your top prospects and/or customers want it?
- What’s the likely return on your investment of time and money – resources you could devote to something else?
If the concept does make sense, Meerkat and Periscope are the two currently prominent apps you can use to go live with your video.
What’s the difference between the two?
If you’re anxious to get started streaming, you’ll need to pick a platform. If you’re aren’t exactly there yet, it still pays to know what options exist. Understanding what’s involved will help you make a better-informed decision about the value of streaming for your business. There are some distinct differences between the two platforms, but in two ways they are the same:
- As of now, neither app is available for Android devices.
- Users get a better viewer experience by downloading the mobile app than by watching on a desktop.
Meerkat in a nutshell:
To use this platform, you log in via your Twitter account, give Meerkat permission to access your camera and location and allow notifications to be sent to your phone. Location and notifications are optional, and you can even deny access to your camera if you just want to look around rather than live stream.
As a Meerkat user, you can:
- See users you’re following.
- See users who are following you.
- Search for users by username. Meerkat will suggest people you may know.
- See the Meerkat “leaderboard” (top-scoring accounts you may want to follow).
- Schedule an announcement about an upcoming live streaming episode.
- Stream your video. You can save it by streaming to the camera roll on your phone, but this feature doesn’t capture comments or viewer data, so any off-camera questions, etc. won’t be included.
- See what videos are currently streaming and click on one to watch.
- See profile photos and other information about users watching the same video you’re watching.
- Click to see comments, likes and retweets relating to the video (or provide your own).
If you don’t have an iOS mobile device, you can get an idea of what is streaming via Meerkat from your desktop, using this link. You will need to log in through your Twitter account, and what you see will be static, not live.
Periscope in a nutshell:
As a first-time user, you’ll log in using your Twitter account and then create a Periscope account. It can have the same username. Then, as a Periscope user you will be able to:
- Follow other users. Connecting is easy since Twitter owns Periscope.
- Follow suggested people.
- See if people you’re following have recently broadcasted live.
- Browse live broadcasts.
- Browse a list of recent broadcasts.
- See comments and viewer numbers for live broadcasts.
- See profile information for the user who is broadcasting.
- Share the broadcast on Twitter.
- Stream your own live video.
- Click to generate a tweet about your broadcast with a link.
- Check your own profile details.
- Autosave your own broadcasts to the camera roll on your phone. Autosave also uploads your broadcast to the app, but you can later delete it if you don’t want it to be viewed repeatedly. If you do not choose autosave, you can save individual broadcasts as they are streaming.
- Disable the location feature so viewers cannot see where you’re broadcasting from.
- Create a private broadcast by locking out all but certain users who follow you. Think of the exclusive marketing possibilities here.
Use this link to get an idea of what is streaming via Periscope from your desktop, if you don’t have an iOS device. You will not have to log in via Twitter, and what you see will be live.
Neither of these apps has been around all that long.
Meerkat hit the market first and started to garner respectable name recognition and a following of users and viewers. It didn’t hurt that Apple promoted the new app via their App Store. Then Twitter more or less pulled the rug out from under Meerkat, by eliminating access to some of the application program interface (API) protocols that enabled the two platforms to interact seamlessly.
As it turns out, Twitter made this change shortly before they launched their own streaming video app. Yes, that would be Periscope. Meerkat is losing ground. In May, Mashable reported that in the U.S. App Store, Meerkat ranks near 1200 while Periscope is in the top 40. Looking only in the Social Networking category, Meerkat is in the top 90 but Periscope is in the top 10.
So back to our title question.
The short answer is simple: yes, you should stream live video if it’s something worth watching. That might be:
- Q&A sessions with your own people or a guest expert.
- Behind-the-scenes tour of your production department.
- How-to demonstrations.
- Live fashion show or other event at your business.
- “Day in the life” video of an event you are attending.
- Open mike night at your bar.
- Cook-off at your restaurant.
The thing about video is that a little goes a long way. You know how “breaking news” on TV quickly turns into a mind-numbing view of the-camera-is-rolling-but-there’s-nothing-new-to-see-or-say? Remember the expression “like watching paint dry”? Be honest with yourself. But don’t necessarily write off live streaming altogether. You never know when you may have the perfect opportunity to truly impress prospects and customers or your entire community with a live broadcast.
By the time you’re ready to stream, either Meerkat or Periscope may have emerged a clear winner. Or there may be an entirely new app dominating the space. We’ll all have to stay tuned and see.