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Earlier we told you about the rise of Meerkat – a neat new live video app that made big buzz at SXSW this year. The app isn't alone, however, with stiff competition from live streaming veteran Ustream and Twitter-owned Periscope.
But it's not just buzz. A report by the OOYALA Global Video Index showed that time spent watching video on mobile devices increased 160% year over year in Q4 2013.
And there's no question that we're in the midst of a mobile revolution here, folks. In that same report, OOYALA predicts that by 2019, people will watch an average of 21 hours per month on their mobile devices. That's up from 12.7 hours in 2013.
So, when it comes to mobile video of any kind, it's time for your business to saddle up.
This new form of broadcasting got us wondering: How can streaming live video benefit a brand?
Businesses have been using things like Ustream and YouTube to broadcast live events, but apps like Meerkat and Periscope are more cost-efficient because anyone with a smartphone can broadcast instead of hiring a team of professionals to set up on-site. Additionally, these apps are simply more accessible and – in our opinion – more fun to watch because of the unscripted, personable feel of mobile video.
Meerkat vs. Periscope vs. Ustream
Before we dive into how you can use live mobile streaming apps to market your business, I want to take a moment to cover a few of the leading live streaming apps that you'll find in the app store.
Meerkat launched in early 2015, just in time for the big SXSW tech festival in Austin, Texas. This new app emphasizes simplicity – everything you do on Meerkat happens on Twitter. When you start a broadcast on Meerkat, you tweet a link to the broadcast. When you leave a comment on a broadcast, it's a tweet directed at the person who is hosting it. Meerkat will record the broadcast as a video file for later use in places like YouTube and Facebook, but the video can't be re-watched within Meerkat.
In comparison to Meerkat, Periscope is slightly more polished and is actually owned by Twitter. It operates similarly with one main difference: The video can be re-watched within the Periscope app. Additionally, Periscope allows for private live streams, so you can share your live video with a select group of people rather than broadcasting it publicly.
It's hard to mention live streaming of any kind without giving a nod to Ustream, which we've used a couple of times here at 9 Clouds, although not recently. Ustream has a very large brand thanks to its easy-to-use service, and it has a mobile app which could be considered a direct competitor to Meerkat or Periscope. Unlike those two younger options, though, Ustream is a walled garden. None of the activity in Ustream is integrated with another social network, and other Ustream users have to log in to watch your live video. While Ustream is great for webinars and broadcasting live events with a webcam, we would not recommend it for truly engaging your audience on a mobile platform.
How can I use live mobile video streaming for my business?
Now that you've picked your app, let's get it on, and figure out how to make some money with it.
The first thing to know about good video streaming is that it has to be exclusive and exciting. If it's not exclusive and exciting, just record it as a video and pop it on Facebook or YouTube.
Here are some ideas for mobile live streams that we at 9 Clouds would tune in to watch:
1. Behind the scenes processes. Let's say you own a small craft brewery in South Dakota. You might not have a humongous marketing budget, but you probably have a few hundred fans on Facebook and Twitter. One great way to boost the authenticity of, say, your new IPA would be to show how you transfer the malted hops from one vat to the next, or how you ferment with a unique style. On a personal note: if I were to watch the beautiful birth of a craft beer on my phone, I would feel morally compelled to go and try it for myself. I would Google it SO HARD after watching that live video. It's a great recipe for building a brand. After all, some of the most successful small businesses gain large followings by giving their secrets away.
2. Your team meeting. We at 9 Clouds have a weekly team meeting every Monday, and while it wouldn't be interesting to most people, it might be very interesting to our closest followers and maybe even some of our clients. This sort of “exclusive access” has a personal feel, and – as opposed to the “how to” example in #1, this example would be more about the characters that run your joint. Follow up your meeting with a Q/A or some sort of content marketing offer, and make your audience feel welcome in the inner circle.
3. A different angle on your events. Here in Sioux Falls, our Creative Advisor John T. Meyer emcees a weekly business networking/learning event called One Million Cups. The event has a very simple format of speakers and announcements, and it's centered around the local business community. For those of us who have trouble getting our busy butts to the coffee shop for the event on Wednesday mornings, John uses Meerkat to broadcast the speakers from his front-row seat. It's a very considerate way to bring more people into the fold, and it's also a great solution for introverts like myself who might not feel comfortable amongst a room of new faces. Plus, all John has to do is push a button on his phone.
Are Meerkat or Periscope right for my business?
If you can make an interesting thing – whether its a service, a new beer, or even a personal brand – you can use live video to gather an interested crowd around it.
A key takeaway here is that, while live video has great potential for new and exciting applications, it won't replace the institution of YouTube, Facebook or even Twitter. Everything has a time and place in digital marketing, and the time and place for live mobile video is growing as quickly as you can pull your phone out of your pocket.
Have you watched or broadcasted with Meerkat or Periscope yet? We want to hear from you in the comments below!
Image: Quinn Dombrowski
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