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Meerkat: The next viral live streaming video tool?

The newest tool to hit the Internet and one that has the potential to go viral is Meerkat. The program was only release two weeks ago and it has exceed its way to popularity by providing an easy way to live-stream video and, more importantly, acquire an audience for those video streams. A large amount of tech journalists and other social media digerati have been using Meerkat, with tours of newsrooms, voyages of discovery in neighbourhoods, and commutes to work.

It’s important to bear in mind that Twitter wasn’t considered to be very serious by many in its early days. And since then, Twitter has exploded in popularity. All successful social tools must have an element of fun about them, and the Meerkat tool certainly seems to have a playful quality about it. Besides, whilst having this ‘playful’ status allows time for all the bugs in the brand new app to be fixed.

Twitter seems to be taking the idea of live-video streaming very seriously. The firm has reportedly acquired Periscope, a startup working on a beta product similar to Meerkat, reportedly for close to $100 million. The market for this kind of service is getting crowded with an additional social live-streaming app. Called Stream, which recently launched. However, Meerkat has a substantial advantage with its tight, although very unofficial, integration with Twitter. The app (iOS only, with an Android version said to be in the works) automatically tweets when a stream is launched. Last week, Twitter briefly blocked that feature; however, they restored it within a few hours. Twitter may eventually roll out a competing product.

In the meantime, Meerkat is soloing on Twitter. Another major element to the success is enticing viewers with their momentary nature.  As soon as a live stream is finished, the audience can no longer see it (unless the Meerkatter later posts the video on another network.)  This aspect of watch it now or never watch it drives people to not miss out on watching these “exclusive” videos. People are absolutely watching. Meerkat gained 18,000 users in their first week after launch in the app on February 27th. MeerKat CEO and co-founder Ben Rubin said 28% of users watch a minimum of two hours a day, 8% watch at least three hours, 4% four hours. He went on to say; “That blew our mind.”

At present, very few brands have joined Meerkat; however, the company is seriously considering marketing uses for their service. Rubin stated that the app’s scheduling feature was created with businesses in mind. Robin explained; “I think what helps brands here is the fact they don’t need to cultivate their own identify on the platform, it just allows them to live stream from their Twitter account. It makes it easy for the people making those marketing decisions to jump quickly into the platform because they don’t have to worry about a whole new profile to maintain and cultivate.”

Brands that would rather produce more professional looking video may not choose Meerkat, filmed on normally shaky mobile devices, however the ability to nimble and quickly reach Twitter audiences should definitely prove attractive to many. Starbucks and JCPenney were apparently among the earliest brands to activate their Meerkat accounts. JCPenney does not appear to have launched any streams and a Starbucks stream from its roastery drew 210 views, a considerably small audience, seeing that the company has 7.3 million Twitter followers.

There have only been a couple of other Meerkat examples from leading brands. NASDAQ has launched many streams, which includes a video of a Red Cross representative ringing the closing bell last Wednesday. Red Bull used Meerkat to broadcast snowboarding trials from the Red Bull Double Pipe Finals Wednesday from Aspen. Additionally, the Miami Dolphins have used Meerkate to broadcast their press conferences. At their height, the Dolphins’ Meerkat broadcast had almost 1,000 viewers. Mike Elgan’s Tech News Today is not really a major brand; however, his use of the platform on Thursday was an intriguing test of the app’s potential.

Elgan ran a Meerkat stream throughout preparation for his show and left it running during the webcast. “You MeerKat people go to, and you TwiT people go to Meerkat ,” Elgan joked at the beginning of his show. Although viewers on Meerkat could only hear Elgan’s side of the conversation, lots of viewers stuck with it. There were as many as 291 Meerkat viewers during the show, almost half as many as were watching the full broadcast on UStream.

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