Why PR pros and marketers should get familiar with Meerkat

The app enables users to stream live video from their phones, and comments on those videos are posted as tweets. It could go the way of the dodo, but there’s a lot of potential.

I’m officially obsessed with Meerkat. If you’re not sold yet, it’s time to get on board.

Meerkat, for the uninitiated, is the latest in a long and winding line of social media tools that have captured imaginations and delighted our fickle, fake-ish online lives. It’s pretty darn addictive to boot.

It only works with Twitter and is currently only available for iOS devices. It enables users to stream live video from their phones, wherever they are, whatever they’re doing. Followers can reply on Meerkat to the action onscreen, and those replies show up as tweets.

I watched several Meerkatters stream their experience from the recent Apple Watch announcement in San Francisco. On Wednesday afternoon, I watched Blink 182 frontman and early Meerkat adopter Mark Hoppus pour himself a San Pellegrino and chat with fans as he readied for rehearsal.

Clearly, it’s not all super thrilling. But it is live, real-time and full of potential.

You can imagine how breaking news could potentially benefit here (think Arab Spring, Ferguson, etc.). One issue there: Meerkat videos are currently not archived, so when it’s over, the video is gone, sort of like Snapchat messages.

Meerkat founder Ben Rubin has been doing a fantastic job of growing the free app’s popularity organically by courting popular tweeters and making appearances, such as this one on MSNBC:

A quick scan of the folks who have registered for the South by Southwest “lineup” shows that news brands and marketers are starting to take note:

Despite my Meerkat enthusiasm, I’ll be the first to note that we’ve heard this all before.

In 2012, I wrote about the four hottest apps I saw at that year’s SXSW conference. While some are still kicking, suffice to say they haven’t taken over the world. Same with Ello, which was the no-advertisement social media alternative that everyone was so jazzed about last year. It’s still around, but it’s not quite the Facebook killer everyone thought it would be.

Even Rubin is cautious with his optimism, telling the recently defunct Gigaom, “People get excited by the novelty of live streaming, but it wears off. I’ve seen my product go through word of mouth before and I’ve seen it wear off. I know what that feels like in a week.”

With that said, news organizations have found plenty of use for it while brands haven’t exactly deemed it an “every day” app and probably never will. Look for brands to start dipping their toes and partnering with celebs to live stream to their fans and followers.

Rubin also told Digiday that he has no plans to take the service to Facebook, and he has no idea right now if or how it will make money.

TechCrunch has reported that Twitter is in talks to acquire Meerkat competitor Periscope. And in case you’ve forgotten, once Facebook purchased Instagram, Twitter became very unfriendly to Instagram content. The same could happen with Meerkat. For now though, it’s fun to watch these things go viral.


Ragan.com Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive the latest articles from Ragan.com directly in your inbox.