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Video App Wars

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!