It seems like practically everyone is talking about Meerkat and Periscope these days. Now that our mobile devices are capable, livestreaming as a medium has finally become possible. Only it’s not at all like making your run-of-the-mill branded video.

We spoke with social strategist at Ayzenberg, Casey Reed, about what marketers really need to know about these platforms and what makes them so distinct from other kinds of video and even other streaming platforms.

Casey Reed, Social Strategist at AyzenbergCasey Reed, Social Strategist at Ayzenberg

Meerkat and Periscope are getting a lot of notice right now from marketers as mobile video in general is really key so far this year. What is different about the content a brand would want to livestream on these or on, say, Twitch, versus posting video on a platform like YouTube or Facebook?

So, for me what separates Meerkat and Periscope from anything else out there is the livestream or live broadcast element. I imagine these platforms more as a longform Snapchat, with the ability to share real-time video content that doesn’t disappear after 10 seconds. It’s far more inherently social, tapping into the existing desire of consumers to share our experiences as we’re living them.

For brands, livestream video apps offer a lot of potential for the industry to both connect with their community on a more personal level but also drive business objectives. Working with brands on social marketing, we’re always looking for ways to bridge the gap between events and our social communities. There’s an element about a live experience that your 2:00 edited-down highlight reel on YouTube doesn’t capture.

People at home suddenly are able to get in on the action as its happening, rather than wait five days for a recap video on Facebook or YouTube. The impact of this on brands is invaluable for connecting audiences across platforms. Oftentimes brands pay millions of dollars just to have a presence at a live event, festival, convention or other experiential activation. You sit and hope for AdWeek or Mashable to pick up on it, but the reach is limited to those in the space. One could argue that the costs behind creating unique and clever stunts at trade-only events doesn’t always pay off. However, Livestream direct-to-mobile video sharing makes what happens on the ground so much more accessible and intimate.

You can also pick and choose how to frame the on-site events and package it to the audience at home. You can release exclusive interviews behind major product announcements, capture stunts, show audience reactions, give people at home a tour of your footprint on the grounds . . . It’s a really neat social way to compliment existing video or event coverage.

What are the audiences like on Meerkat and Periscope from what you can discern? What are some key functionalities and differences?

The greatest difference between Periscope and Meerkat audiences at first glance seems to be industry consumer versus social consumer. Periscope, due to its connection with Twitter, looks to be more brand-friendly and most likely delivers content to consumers interested in the advertising field — an audience that likely engages with brand content on other channels. Meerkat, thanks to SXSW, grew quickly as a real-time social video sharing platform similar to Snapchat. It looks to cast a wider net, but may be harder for brands to enter the conversation in an authentic manner.

My initial preference for marketing with Livestream video content is with Periscope, mostly because of the seamless integration with Twitter. Meerkat videos can be shared with your Twitter audience, but Periscope takes the integration a few steps further:

  • When users sign up for Periscope, Periscope makes suggestions on who to follow based on Twitter connections. For brands with large Followings on Twitter, this ability to build from an existing fanbase gives Periscope a leg up over Meerkat.
  • Prior to broadcasting, you may select the bird icon, which will share your Periscope broadcast with your existing Twitter fanbase.

A few other benefits of Periscope over Meerkat for brands:

  • Replay: Once your livestream or broadcast has finished, you can opt to keep it available for replay for the next 24 hours. Or rather, it will be available for replay for 24 hours unless you delete it, which you can do at any time.
  • Private: The private option allows you to select who to send your broadcast to. Down the road, this could be used by brands to send videos to target audiences or surprise-and-delight specific fans with unique content addressed only to them.

What kinds of things have you seen on Meerkat and Periscope that has caught your eye?

HEARTS! Periscope has this really fun yet beautiful way to encourage engagement using hearts. On Instagram, you can only “heart” a piece of content once to show you “like” it. On Periscope, users can engage with the videos they see, sending “hearts” that flutter up the side of the screen. The more hearts your video content gets, the higher up the hearts float on the screen, and the higher up you (as a brand or handle) appear in Periscope’s list of “Most Loved.”

On both platforms it looks like the comments aggregate in real-time, or bubble up over the content as it plays. This is a cool way of allowing your community to experience it all together, though separately through each individual’s device. But this could also inhibit the viewing experience. I think there’s a way to turn this feature off, but it’s a good question to ask before diving in as a brand.

What do marketers need to know about livestreaming before they dive into it?

Well, the above. Marketers should toy around with livestreaming apps themselves to learn more about the functionalities and natural behaviors, to inform how to create the best viewing experience. Functionalities like the hearts and bubbling-up comments could be cool for friend-to-friend video sharing, but may become distracting on livestreams with larger audiences.

Brands should also be observant of how social behaviors form on new platforms as they emerge. There are certain platforms on which brands and users don’t coexist as naturally as they do on, say, Facebook or Instagram. Users on Tumblr and Snapchat show resistance to seeing brands try to get in on the fun.