Meerkat and Periscope: A Comparison

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Both the Meerkat and Periscope apps are now a few months old (Meerkat was released at the end of February just in time to steal the show at the South by southwest event in Austin, Texas while Periscope was released at the end of March ) and both have been going strong.  Who will win the live-streaming battle for top player remains to be seen though.  There are pros and cons to each app.

Before I launch into a comparison, let’s answer the question What is Live-Streaming?

Live-streaming is simply streaming content live over the internet.  Live-streaming isn’t new but the ability to do it so easily by using one of these two apps is what is new.  There are so many ways that businesses and solo-preneurs can utilize these apps that it almost boggles the mind (more on that later)! Now for the comparison.

Meerkat

Meerkat was the first app to offer live-streaming to Twitter.  In fact, Twitter tried to buy it early on but was unsuccessful.

It has a clean and simple interface with only a few options available. (I’m sure that more will be added as the app develops.) Essentially you can sign in with Twitter and leave your profile alone. Your options are to search for people you’d like to follow or to see the leader board.  You can choose to automatically end a tweet with #meerkat… or not. You cannot also connect to your Facebook page. If you choose to do that, your scheduling and streaming will post to your page.

As with Periscope, your video stream appears on Twitter immediately.  When you watch a live-stream, you are able to comment and see comments from other people. You are also able to retweet. I like the comment thread on Meerkat because it takes up less space than on Periscope so you’ll able to see the presenter easier.  I also like that you can scroll back and see previous comments so you don’t lose track of the conversation.  (You cannot do that on Periscope.) You’ll also see the avatars of folks in the livestream going across the top of the stream. If you click on those thumbnails, you’ll be able to see their Twitter profiles but you can’t follow them from the app.

A great thing about Meerkat is that you have the option to schedule a broadcast in a 24 hour window and to add a featured image. Hashtags and keywords can be included. When a livestream is scheduled, the event will show up in the app feed and a tweet will be sent out. If a person subscribes to an upcoming stream, they will receive a notification from the app when the stream is live.

Another very positive feature is that a call-to-action with a live URL can be added to the end of a livestream.

One of the more negative aspects is that it’s difficult to find folks to follow. They do provide suggestions but if you’re trying to connect with folks that you are already connected to on Twitter, it’s a bit tedious.

Because Meerkat is gamification-based, there is a leaderboard. The way to move up on the leaderboard is to have more people watching, more minutes of streamed video and more comments than the person below you (rumor has it).  This keeps users (broadcasters) engaged and encourages them to broadcast more often. However, that could also be a negative because it takes so much time to get on the leaderboard – folks will run out of valuable things to say and their content might suffer. A positive is that this might also be another way to find people to follow. In fact, this was the method I first used.

A new development is that streamers AND viewers now get points for interactions.

When both apps first launched, there seemed to be some “haters” who loved to invade a livestream and leave negative comments. That seems to have diminished (in fact, I haven’t seen any for quite awhile). There  is the option to report a spammer or to report a livestream itself as inappropriate.

On Meerkat, you can’t watch a finished broadcast but you can save the recording to your phone. If it was your own broadcast, you would then have the ability to edit and use snippets of the stream in another context such as the Instagram 15 second feed.  * Brian Fanzo tells me that if you use the Katch app you can have it automatically recorded. @Katchapp says this: “Record Meerkats with one tweet! The #katch hashtag sends you an automagic YouTube link when the stream ends. (Processing time varies).”

Meerkat Positives

  • Can schedule a live-stream 24 hours ahead and have it “announced”
  • The gamification makes it a bit more interesting and easy to find folks who live-stream often
  • Can place a call-to-action at the end of a live-stream with a URL
  • Possibly a bit easier to use (good for newbie lurkers)
  • Can use the Katch app to auto-record and then be able to save to device

Meerkat Negatives

  • Difficult to connect with your Twitter connections
  • Live-stream is not available to be watched later unless you auto-record it with the Katch app
  • It has no floating hearts (I know, I know; some could care less.)

Periscope

Periscope is owned by Twitter so it has a few more options because of the api.

It is also fairly easy to use both as a viewer and as a broadcaster.

You sign in with your twitter account and your bio is loaded BUT… you can change it. And just this week, Periscope made the links in the bio clickable so be sure to add a link to your bio to where you’d most like your viewers to connect with you more.

You are able to find and follow  your twitter connections more easily but I have to say that in my case, certainly not all of them were within easy reach.  Apparently you can only follow 200 at a time, but every time you log out and log back in, you can follow 200 more. You can browse other viewers watching a stream though and easily add them to your follow list on the app. You can also see THEIR network and follow those folks too.

The thumbnails of the viewers are NOT shown across the top of the livestream as in Meerkat but when they comment, you will see their avatars in a color-shaded square on the left side of the screen. Comments are not pushed to Twitter.

One of the negatives of Periscope is that the comments take up a lot of room and can take away much of the visual. That could be a big detriment to some businesses depending upon what they are presenting. In Periscope, old comments cannot be retrieved which might be problematic for the presenter who is already busy trying to multi-task and not miss any comments.

Of course, one of my favorite parts of Periscope are the floating hearts on the right side of the livestream that signify the viewers giving love to the presenter. Viewers can do that by tapping on their screen and the color of their hearts are the same color as their avatar square. (I have not figured out how to actually select the color I want for my avatar square. If anyone finds a way to do that, let me know! I want pink or turquoise, of course.) One possibly negative side of this is that some broadcasters are begging for hearts (akin to begging for likes and follows_ – don’t do that.

One of the positives about Periscope is that livestreams are available to be seen for 24 hours so if you miss a live session, you have some time to catch it.  AND the livestreams are now available to be watched on the web! So if your phone battery dies (like mine often does), you can still watch on the web.

Another cool feature with Periscope is that you can have private live-streams.  In order to do this, the people that you’d like in your private livestream must follow you. You would then tap on the follower(s) that would want to include. Paid memberships, group chats or client meetings would be ways to  utilize this feature.

Like Meerkat, Periscope  has a reporting feature for those livestreams that are inappropriate.  You can also limit the ability to comment on your livestream to only those who follow you on Twitter.

Unlike Meerkat, you cannot pre-schedule a livestream (I bet that changes soon), nor can you leave a call-to-action at the end of your livestream (I bet that will change too but the ability to have a clickable link in your bio is good in the meantime.)

Periscope DOES provide post-stream statistics for the broadcasters though.

Wrap-Up

Periscope Positives:

  • Can find Twitter connections easily
  • Can have private broadcasts
  • Videos can be watched for 24 hours after live-stream finishes
  • Videos can be watched on the web
  • Links in Bios are clickable
  • Has post-stream statistics

Periscope Negatives

  • Does not allow scheduling
  • Does not allow a call-to-action at the end
  • Comments distract from the presenter

 

Why consider using Meerkat or Periscope?

You can easily connect with your audience in real-time!

We’ll discuss ways to utilize each of these apps in the second article of the series.

Have you tried either app? What are your thoughts?  Have I missed anything?

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