Meerkat v Periscope for brands

Written on 23 November, 2015 by James Baylis
Categories: Social Media | Tags: meerkat, online marketing, periscope, social media, video

Facebook v Myspace, Instagram v PicPlz, YouTube v Vimeo… the social media landscape has long been dominated by battles over the hottest platform, and this year is no different.

Mobile live-stream apps Meerkat and Periscope both launched within a few days of each other, and since then marketers have been weighing up the pros and cons of both. So which is best for marketers, and what does the future hold for live streaming?

What are Periscope and Meerkat, and how do they work?

Both Meerkat and Periscope work through Twitter, letting users both broadcast and watch live streams from around the world. Viewers can ‘like’ streams on Meerkat or ‘heart’ them on Periscope, comment, as well as see how many others are watching the stream alongside them.

Meerkat was founded in Silicon Valley circa 2012, while Periscope began in 2014 and purchased by Twitter at the beginning of this year. Both apps are available for download at Google Play and the App Store.

The key differences

While almost identical at first glance, these apps do have a few key differences that make it easier to distinguish which is ideal for your brand – the most critical being the functions each platform offers, and the way each integrates with Twitter.

A glance on Meerkat’s website might make you feel like you’re in school. The app has a set of rules as to how the platform works, which include “Everything that happens on Meerkat happens on Twitter” and “Everything is live. No reruns”. In other words, there’s no way to control what is shared on Twitter from Meerkat and video streams are only available in real time.

On the other hand, on Periscope you have control over which streams you share via Twitter, and your live streams are saved on the platform for 24 hours so people can watch recent streams as well as live ones. Periscope also has a map for users to browse streams from around the world in real time, and stronger integration with Twitter, allowing users to follow people on Periscope who they already follow on Twitter. While Meerkat has the “People you may know” function to help users connect with their friends, its integration is not nearly as streamlined as Periscope’s.

Which brands are on board?

Since its launch, Meerkat has been used by brands to showcase exclusive or behind-the-scenes footage otherwise inaccessible to users. Billboard used Meerkat to share a behind-the-scenes view of a country singer’s performance, while Jimmy Fallon used Meerkat to stream his live rehearsals and – most importantly – his hair and makeup routine.

Periscope, on the other hand, has attracted marketing giants such as Red Bull, Nestlé and DKNY in a similar fashion. Red Bull shared live events during Miami Music Week, DKNY opened up their fashion closet to users, and Nestlé used Periscope influencers to promote their Drumstick cone during Summer Solstice.

So which platform should you choose?

With no moderation for comments currently available, and questions around how brands can utilise live streaming for ads, both apps have a long way to go in terms of becoming the ultimate real-time tool for marketers.

However, it’s ultimately about which app has more users, and therefore greater reach for marketers. At the moment, that brand is Periscope.

On the Google Play and App Store, Periscope already has millions of users while Meerkat sits in the hundreds of thousands. More importantly, both apps are heavily integrated into Twitter but, as Periscope is owned by the microblogging giant, it’s only natural that Twitter favours Periscope in the long run.

Periscope’s live-stream longevity is also critical for brands that want to generate buzz before, during and after a campaign, while Meerkat’s is largely limited to before and during.

While neither apps has hit their peak in terms of users or functionality, based on current user base and future promise alone, Periscope is the clear winner right now.