There's nothing like a brand-new medium to put marketing departments into overdrive, and it would be hard to find a better example than the recent, rapid-fire arrival of live-stream video apps Meerkat and Periscope.
Meerkat fairly stole the show at this month's SXSW Interactive in Austin, Texas, where startups, brands and agencies used it to share live music performances, session videos and parties. Fast forward to this week, and Twitter — which had already taken the preemptive step of cutting Meerkat off from its social graph — launched Periscope, its own, recently acquired contender.
The relative merits of the two platforms are now being debated, even as Meerkat — still the better-known of the two — has drawn in another $14 million in funding. In the meantime, marketers have plenty to think about.
"Meerkat and Periscope both provide huge opportunities for brands and marketers," said Anna Francis, content manager with My Social Agency. "Real-time social interaction is more important than ever, and video content allows brands to engage with their audience in a human and transparent way that tweets and Facebook posts simply can't contend with."
Many big brands already hold a lot of live events, including conferences, sports events, product announcements and annual meetings.
"Brands love live events because they enable interaction with the audience and have an urgency that recorded video lacks," said social media strategist Paul Gillin. "Using Meerkat and Periscope makes live streaming cheap and easy. I think you'll see brands jumping all over this new capability."
Starbucks has been an early tester of Meerkat and ran its first video using the app earlier this month. The live video stream showed coffee roasting at the company's roastery and tasting room in Seattle, and ran for 4.5 minutes that afternoon alongside concurrent engagement efforts on Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram. The company plans to continue using Meerkat in the future, it said.
Spotify was one of the top brands using Meerkat at SXSW, at one point reaching No. 11 on the Meerkat leaderboard. Among the content it offered were on-stage introductions to artists Wyclef, Hudson Mohawke, Just Blaze, Leon Bridges and Passion Pit, as well as sessions with live DJs.
"A lot of what we want to do is build active communities for followers and give them things to share," said Josh Karpf, Spotify's global director of social marketing. "It was a cool experience for fans who weren't at the show."
The experiments drew more than 5,000 views at the show, he added. "We found people were really staying with our content, even though some streams were 20 to 25 minutes," he said.
Spotify will continue to experiment with Meerkat and with Periscope as well, Karpf said.
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