Instagram might be the coolest social network right now, and Vine still popular with creatives, but forget your regular videos and stills – 2015 has all been about video streaming. Two new apps, Periscope and Meerkat, burst dramatically onto the social media scene this spring – Meerkat was officially launched at SXSW festival while Periscope, bought by Twitter in January, was launched in March. The two immediately went head to head for users but while there are no official usage figures, Periscope appears to be winning out.
Launched in August and still in beta, Blab may be one you've heard less about but its early take-up is helping boost the new trend for live streaming. Here's a closer look at all three.
Unlike Periscope, Meerkat lets you schedule a livestream 24 hours before it begins and once scheduled, you have a unique URL that you can promote across your social channels, which users can subscribe to. You can even share your stream to Facebook when it's live, which isn't possible with Periscope.
But, once your stream is finished, the file is forever deleted – although this isn't necessarily a negative for users given the rise of ephemeral networks like Snapchat. You can find streams from your other social networks via the 'People You May Know' feature or by checking out the most popular via the Leaderboard. So far, Meerkat has been used by the likes of Rio Ferdinand, Madonna and even Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Periscope is owned by Twitter and can access a lot more information about you and your interests than Meerkat can, like who you follow, in order to serve you interest-related streams. And when it comes to letting your Twitter followers know that you're live streaming, Periscope gives you the option to push this to your followers while Meerkat does so automatically.
Unlike Meerkat, you can also create private streams for a selected few followers to watch. Like Meerkat, it also has a celeb following with Mary J Blige, Roger Federer and Jamie Oliver having used the app.
Owned by Bebo, one of the original social networks, Blab differs slightly from the other two in that it enables you to join four-way conversations. You can even request to join any chat and switch with one of the four taking part if the moderator allows.
Web-based and available as an iOS app, it's sort of more like a Google Hangout than Meerkat or Periscope, although with more kudos. Speaking of giving kudos, rather than likes or retweets, you give 'feels' during the live chat, which are instantly gone when the chat's over. All Blabs can be recorded to watch later.
Why should you be using them?
While all three apps still have some way to go before they catch up with the likes of Vine, Instagram and Snapchat, video live streaming is another tool that can help with your self-promotion – particularly for those of you freelancers.
Because they plug into social networks, and even have messaging features that sit alongside the live video, live streaming doesn't just help show off your industry knowledge but also enables two-way interactions with others from your industry. Live social streaming gives you a great opportunity to get out there and network with others; it's a collaborative way to share ideas and discover something new.
Here's a few ideas to help get you started:
- Q&A/Ask anything: Do you specialise in a specific field? Or perhaps you have experience you can share with those just breaking into the industry? Promote a live Q&A across your social channels in the run-up to the event and take questions beforehand to get the conversation going, answering the rest as they come in live. If you're using Meerkat, record the conversation with your phone to turn the content into a blog post later on.
- Behind the scenes: if you've just worked on an exciting new project then show it off. Run a live stream, telling your community how it came about, the process, and some of the learnings. It'll show potential clients exactly what you're capable of and help build buzz around your brand.
- How to: Know some pretty nifty tricks on Photoshop or have some great tips on proposal writing? Sharing advice with a video can really help build your following.
- Reaction to industry news/brand work: remember the storm that the Airbnb rebrand caused last summer? Getting involved in those conversations in real-time and capitalising on trending hashtags not only shows that your up-to-date with what's going on in the industry, but also helps you to extend the reach of your brand.
You can also take inspiration from brands who are already successfully using live video streaming. We've shown you one on Blab, here's an example from Meerkat and Periscope:
Here's Joe Wilson, director and creator of VampireMob, using Meerkat to run an interactive chat on music, using Twitter to promote the scheduled stream.
An example of capitalising on a real-time conversation, Mashable has run a Persicope on the news that Twitter has changed the favourite star icon to a heart.
Words: Natalie Brandweiner
Natalie Brandweiner is a freelancer writer and social media specialist based in Bristol, UK. You can find her on Twitter at @Natalie_Brand.
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