Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Video App Wars

by fouts

Video App Wars Meerkat vs PeriscopeI’ve been writing this post for weeks. Just before I get ready to publish it something changes! That’s the way it goes in tech these days and it’s especially true when there is competition for share of voice on social platforms.

We all know video is wildly popular across the board and people love the experience of sharing their life experiences with others in real time.When Meerkat launched in March it got a huge bump from social media marketers who created live video in real time from the South by Southwest conference. Then, just in time for Social Media Marketing World in San Diego, Twitter re-launched Periscope, another real time video app that streams directly to Twitter which they just acquired.

Shortly afterward Facebook launched their own app, Riff for mobile devices which allows you to create a video on your device and your Facebook friends can add their own clips to the video creating a collaborative story. The idea is that a short video clip from one friend can spread within your circle of friends to a much larger thing which can then be shared on your social networks or anywhere else on the web.

Now, these are not the first to do live video streaming. Remember Qik (say “quick”)? That app launched in 2009 and allowed users to swap video messages back and forth before it was acquired by Skype back in 2011, and then shut down in 2014. Then there’s Hang w/ which launched in 2013. Hang w/ allows you to build your own suite of followers and interact with them through live video streams and real-time chat.

Who will win the video app wars? Meerkat, Periscope, others?  Tweet: Who'll win the video app wars,Meerkat, Periscope, others?

What’s the big deal?
All of these apps have one core thing in common. We love to watch videos that let us feel like we are right there, and it’s easy to make them on our mobile devices. With Meerkat and Periscope the creator interacts with the audience through text messages, while in Riff all of the users become creators, adding their voice to the story. The founders of Hang w/ say they are bringing authenticity back to social media, that there was simply too much pre-programmed “interaction ” going on, but you can’t fake this!

When one of my readers emailed me asking which platform she should use, I reached out to some friends for their take on the new outpouring of live-streaming video apps. I asked people if they preferred one app over the other or if they were using them at all. Here’s the gist of the conversation.

Being mostly social media wonks and early adopters, it’s not surprising that several people told me they are using more than one of these apps.

LOVE live streaming! I’ve actually been doing it since the beginning of uStream. I’m one of the people that helped blow up Meerkat at SXSW. I still prefer it to Periscope, though I am dabbling with it as well. Problem with the latter is people on Twitter just troll through streams.. end up with a bunch of random people saying “who are you?” It certainly has an advantage with Twitter on it’s side. If Meerkat can get acquired by Facebook or Google, it’s game on. I’m easy to find on both.JoelComm

I have played with Meerkat and Periscope. I don’t have a favorite, but I would lean toward Periscope just because of the Twitter backing. Consumer brands and entertainment will use it extensively. I also think news organizations will use it a lot to show live scenes of news, accidents, protesting.“–Albert Maruggi

Who else is using them?
The better question might be who’s NOT. Both apps have been used by everyone from you and me to major celebrities. Meerkat was justifiably excited to land Madonna for the launch of her new single, “Ghosttown”, but unfortunately there was a glitch and the broadcast was delayed, but it did eventually take off. Here’s a list of celebrities using one or both platforms for live video streams.

Quite a few people responded with mixed feelings on these apps so far.

I’m on Hang/w personally and occasionally enjoy streaming a short video to share who I am… personal moments. But I don’t tend to use any of these apps regularly because I have not found them relevant to my work. If I was completely independent or establishing my personal brand, yes, they’re fun and yes, I could even put out consistent content such as answering questions, etc. However, my professional role has evolved. I’m serving corporate clients and people who need more than a moment of my time to discuss in-depth strategy. objectives and tactical implementation plans. So using these apps in the middle of that kind of work is a distraction. Again, I love the concept and the personal use, but I’m also finishing up my MBA classes and writing two books so time to share on a personal level with my friends and fans is coming via Facebook and Twitter and professionally via LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google+“–Lori Ruff

So far, I’ve only experimented and written about Periscope. While I’m a regular guest on Google+ Hangouts On Air, I do not, generally, create video of my own, so I’ve been slow to adopt any of the video creation/sharing apps. Periscope, however, seemed different. The week before it came out, as you know, Meerkat was the darling of SXSW. Everyone there was using it and talking about it, and the news coming from Twitter’s end was not supportive at all. And shortly after we learned about Twitter cutting off access to their API, it became clear why. The launch of Periscope was timed beautifully, as *that* became all anyone at SMMW wanted to talk about. Due to the tremendous support and backing of Twitter, the immediate tie into user’s connections via Twitter, and the overall ease of use, I do think Periscope will end up being the more mainstream and widely adopted of the available solutions. As for myself, I can definitely see me using Periscope for personal broadcasts, much as I do for Instagram. For my business channels, it’s not likely to be an area that I expand into, as Google+ HOAs are a much better fit.” –Mike Allton

The pros

  • Real time video allows people to engage with you …well, in real time. That means you are more present and they get to talk directly to you.
  • You get instant feedback and engage viewers. Try asking for help with a decision or opinions.
  • This is a great Q&A or conversation tool with your audience
  • The apps are relatively easy to use
  • Meerkat has already introduced an option to add a popup at the end of the stream to connect to external sites; like the one to buy Madonna’s album on iTunes.

The Cons

  • These apps attract trolls and spammers like mad. It can be a bit disconcerting when your video gets hijacked by the comments. The app developers are working on ways to filter and moderate and Periscope has an option to allow only people you follow to comment, which is a nice start.
  • Many have reported fumbling with settings and there is little technical support for most apps. After all they are in flux.

I am not using any of these personally because there is very little in my day-to-day activities that I think merits the use of live-streaming, nor is there much I wish to share as such. For the vast majority, live streaming threatens to unveil the less exciting aspects of people’s lives. Most of us do no live in a reality TV show and broadcasting a live feed in social channels would run contrary to the unbelievably fantastic lives we all allegedly live through still photos published to Facebook.” … “The question for organizational communications to ponder is whether or not their community lives on social networks and has an appetite for live streaming in these channels. “– Frank Strong

The latest
Meerkat just released a change this weekend that signals a broader reach and a move away from Twitter. Their app will now stream to Facebook too and viewers will not need a Twitter account to watch. Popular streams will be promoted to the front screen of the app and the ability to change your profile image to an emoji, just because.

Until recently these apps were iOS specific, but Meerkat has been the first to go to the Android platform which opens up even more opportunity for the feisty app.

Time will tell which wins out, MeerKat or Periscope, or maybe Hang /w or if another platform entirely wins our hearts. In the meantime I suggest you download one of these apps and start experimenting.

Got questions?
I considered adding tips and tricks to this post but the rapid changes would make it obsolete pretty fast. Instead, why not tweet me your questions @jfouts. I’m happy to answer anything and if I don’t know the answer I will find out for you!

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Productivity software? Tried it. It never does what I need it to do and I spend more time setting it up and loading stuff into it than I do actually using it. Most of the apps I’d tried also had accessibility issues. Sometimes they synced, sometimes they didn’t and I was constantly maintaining the tool that was supposed to make my life easier.

Until now. In a nutshell, Evernote lets you add information to a database that is accessible through the web, a desktop app, and your iPhone,  or smart phone. Items are tag-able and fully search-able so you can add pretty much anything, run a search, and quickly find it again wherever you are.

Here’s an example of how I use it for blogging. Many of my best ideas for bog post come when I’m out for a hike or driving. I don’t always have a pen and paper with me and I never text and drive so what to do? SIRI to the rescue. I just tell SIRI to email Evernote with my special upload address, I make the subject line “blog post” and then dictate the idea, or sometimes even most of the post. and SIRI emails it to Evernote. I can finish what I’m doing and come back to my Evernote file full of blog posts, ready to finish.

 

Now when I say you can upload things, try to visualize this. You’re at a networking event and you suck at remembering names. With Evernote you can take a picture of a person with your phone, tag them with their name and they’re saved for future reference in your database. Even more interesting, include their name badge in the snapshot, even a handwritten name tag, and Evernote will recognize the handwriting and enter it as searchable text!

evernote-biz-cardWhile you’re at it, take a photo of that person’s business card through the app and connect your Evernote account with Linkedin. Evernote will digitize the image and create a searchable note in your account with the most up-to-date information about your shiny new contact. It will also prompt you to connect with them on Linkedin Attach notes about the meeting to the note in Evernote and you’ve got a great reference for the next time you meet.

evernoteEvernote can find text within images, recognize it and make the text search-able. The image at right is a snapshot of the bag given out at N2Y4 Mobile Challenge. The highlighted yellow text is the result of a search for the words “Mobile Challenge” in my Evernote database. I hadn’t even tagged it yet. I also found my notes from Raj Singh’s lecture, the images of the slides he put up, the website homepage with session info, and a reminder to connect with one of the people I met at that talk.

Never again will I collect a bunch of paper at trade shows just to remember the product offering. A few quick photos of the booth, and not only do I have faces to relate to later, but the booth itself, logos, products and the text of the brochures ready to use in my post. all in one swoop. This is going to make blogging after conferences a breeze.

 

What else does Evernote do? A lot. Here are some of the ways I use it.

  • Evernote now includes another of my favorite tools. Skitch. Skitch allows me to take a screenshot and annotate it. When I’m doing a webinar and need screenshots or a recording a tutorial for a client i can easily take the shots I need and mark them up to show the client exactly what I mean. Sweet.
  • Record an audio message to listen to later, take a photo and tag the two to record an event or item to remember.
  • Drag and drop content like a PDF right into Evernote from your desktop and it’s filed (and searchable).
  • Save your  Tweets (public or DM) directly into Evernotes database by simply including @myENin the message (quick set up required)
  • Create a shared notebook to share notes or whole notebooks with your team.

Evernote constantly syncs with the database, so you are only seconds away from totally available information.

Did I mention it’s free? Yes, you have to put up with some small rotating banner ads, but believe me it’s worth it. Odds are very good you’ll upgrade to premium anyway, not to get rid of the ads, but to get more storage because you can fill it up pretty quickly.

Are you using Evernote too? share some tips and tricks here. Got an even better app? Tell me, I love finding new toys!

(Note, this is a revised post from my first review back in 2009!)

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cookies restaurantAre you intentional with your social marketing? Most marketers will say yes–or at least most of the time, and hey, nobody’s perfekt right?

Today I want you to think about your intentions for using a specific network and ask yourself a few questions. Take a moment to think about each of the networks you are engaging on and write down your answers. I’ll tell you what to do with them in a minute.

Why did you choose this network?

  • Because somebody told you you HAD to be there?
  • Because your competitor is?
  • It seemed like a good idea at the time?
  • Because your market is there?
  • You like it personally so you use it for business too?
  • Holding the username as brand protection?

What do you intend this network to do for you?

  • Gain brand recognition?
  • Share information with your users?
  • Customer service?
  • Define yourself as a resource or expert?
  • A news resource for your brand?
  • Professional development?

Does the “voice” of this network suit your own?
Every social network has a specific voice or way of conversing with others. Evaluating this voice and seeing if it a good fit for you and your brand is important. If your voice doesn’t align with that of the network you’ll stand out like a sore thumb and it feels in-authentic. If your voice doesn’t adapt to this network you may want to rethink why you’re here.

Does the method of communication work for you?
Besides voice, platforms also have unique formats. Do you communicate best through video, short messages with links, long blog posts, images, or in-depth conversations with your community? Does this specific platform’s style work for you?

Look at the data
Hopefully you set up a list of intentions, (or KPIs) for your social media outreach before you started signing up for networks. Take a look at whatever metrics you decided were your measurements for success. How is this network doing?

Now what?
Look over about the results of your review and evaluate how useful each network really is to you. Are the reasons you’re using it still compelling? If you knew then what you know now would you still have signed up?

Think about how you can adjust what you’re doing for better results or to better fit the network. If that feels backwards to you, you may want to consider ditching the network. Networks come and go and if it’s not a good fit for you, consider devoting more time to the ones that ARE good for your needs to get your best possible results. Set up your intentions for each network, the people you intend to reach there and the results you wish to achieve. Setting up those intentions will help you keep your marketing on track and align your messaging with your mission.

 

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Do you MeerkatPeople are jumping on Meerkat, a relatively new app that allows us to live stream video directly to Twitter through the app.

Here’s how it works:

  • Download the iOS app to see who is streaming or click this link to see who’s streaming #meerkat on TwitterUse mentions on Twitter to comment or comment through the app and join the conversation there
  • If you’re streaming a Meerkat video it’s pushed to your followers on Meerkat in real time and viewable on Twitter in real time
  • Followers can “re-stream” your broadcast to their own followers in real time too
  • You can schedule a stream too, which will be broadcast to your subscribers
  • Once your stream ends you have the option to save your stream to your iPhone’s camera roll for editing and re-posting

Get started with Meerkat

Start your own session by simply adding a note about what you want to talk about. This is sent to your followers and posted on your Twitter stream with the #Meerkat hashtag and a link to watch live.It’s that simple to use.

I suggest you download the app and see who of your friends are streaming and watch some of the live streams on the hashtag above to see what they’re doing. Then just run with it. What’s the worst that could happen?

In some ways it’s like Snapchat in that it’s immediate and once the live stream is over the video is gone and can’t be seen again unless you save it and reshare it.

But why?

Now being able to live stream directly to your Twitter feed is super cool, but if your following isn’t there at the moment you are broadcasting does anybody hear it?

That’s sort of like that old ad adage if a tree falls in the woods does it make a sound?

Honestly some of the joy of Twitter is that serendipity of finding gems that you may have missed in your stream. That immediacy for which Twitter has always been famous. And of course, once you’re using the app you’ll get notifications when people you follow are streaming and can jump on to see what’s up.

I recently jumped on when Brian Fanzo and Daniel Newman broadcasted their #SMACtalk show from the IBM mobile conference. What a great way to take advantage of being at a conference. For example, say you attend a brilliant talk at a conference or even online. Jump on Meerkat and give us your impressions and your own perspective and discuss it with your following in real time. Grab the speaker and have them join you in a live chat, or if YOU are the speaker then have your own breakout after the session live on Twitter. The possibilities here are pretty mind blowing.

Other people are using it for quick one offs to their fan base. Gary Vaynerchuck has been jumping on the Twitter video opportunity so it’s natural that he’d use this too. He did a quick Meerkat session while coming home in an Uber yesterday and over 300 people jumped on to watch, He had 61 retweets of the broadcast and 119 favorited it. Not bad for a couple of minutes of raw video shot in a moving car!

It will be very interesting to see how long Twitter let’s this Meerkat live or if they snap it up and buy it (as they should). In the meantime come follow me on Meerkat, I’ll be posting tips and tricks and random thoughts about mindful use of social media for business and just for fun. Stay tuned!

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