I started to see it, in my Twitter stream, during SXSW. Meerkat. Other than the African plains version of the Prairie Dog (yes, I know they are part of the Mongoose family), I had never heard of it, but, there it was, all the rage of the Twitteratti strolling events and talks during 2015’s first really big new media show. Of course, I couldn’t resist taking a closer look.
By the time Social Media Examiners Social Media Marketing World kicked off, I was following several people who had really jumped on the Meerkat bandwagon (including Social Media Camp 2015 speaker, Brian Fanzo). I was enjoying the video feeds from the various venues and events, seeing many of my Social Media friends and peers showing what a great time the event was. I could see the possibilities, for sure.
For those who are not yet familiar with Meerkat (or its direct competitor, Twitter’s Periscope), it is an app in the newest Social Media battleground; LIVE vide0 tweeting. It is an interesting pairing of a Live Video Feed with a Twitter conversation. It allows you to have engagement with followers, as you share a live video feed, by those followers tweeting comments that are visible right in the feed. As I sit, writing this, I am watching a Live feed of a cancer patient talking with his doctor about his cancer treatment. It is a powerful and thought provoking conversation….and very, very, real.
This is not to say, however, that these new video feeds are not like the early days of Twitter. Most of the posted feeds are full of absolutely mind numbing stuff. People walking down the street, either talking to the camera (which seem like a good way to walk into a pole) or the cameras is facing the street in front of them. Others are showing themselves driving down the street with a live commentary, making or eating food, hanging out at the beach, etc.. Basically, mental chewing gum with no real purpose other than to share their life with others (which might not be as interesting as they seem to think it is).
So, is this a battleground, or just a minor skirmish in the Social Media “Look At Me!” wars?
Video vs. Image
If you post an image online, people will usually stop and take a look, especially if the image is a powerful one. Video, on the other hand, almost always gets a click, just out of plain curiosity. Video can be a powerful tool in getting your content out to the increasingly distracted masses. Even Instagram is launching the ability upload video into its space and it is gaining a lot of traction. Many of the leaders in the use of Social Media, as a marketing tool, will tell you this. Where an image can be worth a 1000 words, in video can use a 1000 words (and more) and this is where this new set of platforms will start to take hold.
Much like images, however, video needs to be connected to great content. Unlike images, the content is in the video so the visual has be worth engaging and this is where these new apps are still a long way from having the value that they potentially hold. Like Twitter back in the day, the landscape is full of people trying out their hand at being seen, moving from the days of taking pictures of their food, to sharing streaming video of them eating that food. A strategy to implement the tool is needed, in order people and businesses to take it to the next level.
The first stream I watched was actor Adam Goldberg making comparisons and starting conversations around the Meerkat vs. Periscope. A humourous, rambling, Q&A, where Goldberg was trying to decide which platform was better, using his audience as a sounding board and a comment stream. As I watched, it was not hard to see that the World of Social Media “instant gratification” just took another step forward, to “truly instant gratification”. A question is asked and instantly answered, from either side of the conversation, with the only drawback being whether or not your comment / query will be seen in the stream of so many others and if the person in the feed will be there, long enough, for it to be seen. I couldn’t help but think what this will mean in a world where most Social Media users have an attention span of a gnat, with ADD, on a sugar high.
Finding its Place
As I mentioned, as with most new platforms, many of the early adopters are people that have less than engaging content to share. Unlike the early days of Twitter, however, some of those early adopters are people are those who had traditionally been the sheep, following long after the rest of the community was already on board. In one feed, I watched a television news anchor walking around the studio, shortly before he was to go on air, showing his audience the people who work behind the scenes and answering questions. In another, “I-Broke-Twitter” Queen, Ellen DeGeneres was sharing a behind the scenes look of her team reviewing the latest viral video’s, looking for the next online sensation. These peeks into the little seen world of news and entertainment, judging from the never ending flow of comments and admiration, further the exposure that they (traditional broadcast media) so desperately want to keep a grip on. Despite all the possible legal and privacy issues, that any live video feed entails, it is an easy indicator that the Live Video Feed will come into its own, sooner than later, and become the new Battle Ground in Social Media stream domination.