If you’re keeping a watchful eye on the communications and marketing arena right now you’ll have noticed the increase in chatter about live streaming apps that seems to have everyone very excited.
While live streaming is nothing new, what really separates this latest trend is the emergence of ‘mobile’ live streaming, which means that as long as you’ve got decent 3G/ 4G access and data allowance (see below for more on this) you can live stream exactly what and where you’re viewing, directly to your chosen audience.
Several new, live streaming apps have come onto the market but two in particular are currently fighting it out for dominance in what will surely become a crowded and innovative marketplace.
Periscope was bought by Twitter almost as soon as it launched while Meerkat is raising tens of millions in funding and investment of its own. Enhanced live streaming capabilities are no doubt also approaching from regulars such as Bambuser, Livestream, UStream and of course, online video stalwart You Tube.
There are plenty of articles online (this one from Toms Guide is a particularly good comparison) that go into detail on the differences between the two, so I won’t go into detail here, but currently, what sets Meerkat and Periscope apart is that they have great social media integration. Particularly over Twitter so that your followers can instantly see when you’re streaming and can choose to watch, and interact with, your stream.
Additionally, similar to Facebook, Meerkat has a “like” button that viewers can click at any time during the broadcast. Periscope has live comments that appear at the bottom of the video and users can also tap the screen to make small floating hearts appear.
While the benefits of this new way of sharing content are obvious to more live orientated services such as mobile news gathering, what isn’t so clear right now is how they can be best used for more planned communications and marketing campaigns.
This is where this industry is so exciting. As the tech develops, and our ability to tell our stories in more efficient ways it just makes the campaign planning process so much more exciting.
There are still issues of course, particularly around suitable network speeds, especially in largely rural areas such as Cornwall.
Also, while the creative possibilities for mobile live streaming may be almost endless one thing that could stifle that is your date allowance. After testing both apps, most analysts appear to agree that Periscope measures over 250 megabytes of data an hour while Meerkat measures over 400 megabytes an hour. Other testers report up to 400 megabytes per hour for both apps.
What this means is that you’ll have to start keeping a decent eye on your data allowance if you start to broadcast, or watch, more mobile live streams. Better still, consider getting either an unlimited package from your provider or a data boost on the particular day you want to stream.
Also worth bearing in mind is that these videos don’t last. Once a Meerkat stream is over, the video is gone for good. Periscope videos stay online for replays, but only for one day. You can save your own Periscope videos, but comments and likes won’t appear.
What they do is to expand, again, the boundaries of our creativity for marketing and communications. It’s another tool to keep in the mind when planning a project or campaign.
Here are just five suggestions for utilising live streams right now for communications and marketing professionals. If you think or know of anymore example where it has been used effectively in comms or marketing, please let us know in the comments box below.
- Press launches. If you’re issuing a press call or photo opportunity and inviting the media long why not go along yourself and live steam the event through your social channels direct to your audience.
- Use live video to integrate with nationals schemes such as #OurDay – the local government Twitter snapshot. You could stagger ten minutes live filming of a countryside ranger checking water quality, 30 minutes live streaming of a firefighter drill day, with live footage as they enter their training tower. The opportunities here are only limited by your own creativity. Live is a great way to tell human stories about your business or organisation as they happen.
- Set up a live Q and A session with your Chief Executive or senior director/manager – particularly around a topical issue. Allowing your Twitter followers to watch and comment on the conversation is a great advantage and while it comes with almost total lack of moderation could be an exciting channel to exploit. If your I.T. department would allow, Periscope also allows you to create private broadcast so these live streams could also be used specifically for an internal audience (affordable webinars anyone??). I can’t imagine it will be too long before a realistic enterprise solution hits the app stores.
- Council or public meetings. One to be properly planned this but why not consider using multiple mobile devices to broadcast a live Council meeting. It doesn’t have to be your main Full Council meeting but why not try it for a smaller, public meeting. Perhaps a specific planning meeting and see what the response is?
- Behind the scenes. This is one area, similar to the day-in the life approach in the above example but focussed more on one particular service or team. Why not arrange an hour with your local recycling depot and stream live from the venue giving an idea of the scale of the operation. Set up a Q and A or interview with the relevant employee while there and you’ve produced yourself a lovely live comms package directly to your residents.
As with all these new innovations we have to give it a try. It may not work, people may not take to live and prefer summarised versions of the day’s events but I think it would be criminal to not at least investigate the real-time possibilities that your organisation offers.
Who will dominate in the coming months and years, Periscope, Meerkat or another, will largely be down to financial backing and internet ‘buzz’, but why not give them a try for your next marketing campaign and let your audience decide whether live streaming is for them?