Live-streaming is blowing up right now. Well, not really blowing up, but it's growing steadily, with dedicated broadcaster and viewer communities growing. Whether you're into it or not, there's clearly an audience demand for live-streaming and live-streamed content - Periscope reported recently that it's now seeing almost two million active users, every day.
But the app that started it all was Meerkat. You remember Meerkat, right? It's the app with the bright yellow logo. No, not Snapchat, the other one. Meerkat was the original live-streaming app, and it quickly enamored many influential users and introduced us all to a new world of immediate, live connection. But in recent times, Meerkat seems to have lost ground.
First, Twitter took away Meerkat's access to its social graph. That's fine, no problem, Meerkat made a new arrangement with Facebook and moved on. Then Periscope took over, with a more refined live-streaming experience. That's fine, Meerkat has a solid core user group and they reported that growth and engagement were still steady. Then Blab came on the scene and changed the game on them again.
As live-streaming evolves, it looks more and more likely that Meerkat will struggle to hold it's ground, with bigger players, including Facebook, circling. But definitely don't count out the resilient little fighter yet. Just this week, Meerkat has announced, via it's official blog, the addition of two new features, both of which bring new elements into the live-streaming experience.
To be fair, both of the new features announced have been in place for a few weeks, but Meerkat's blog post officially introduces them, as well as providing some back-story as to how they came to be.
A couple of months back, Meerkat held a hackathon, in which they asked their team to vote on features they'd be 'most excited' to see in the app, with two important provisos - 1) The feature had to be something the community would love and 2) They had to be able to get a proof of concept working within three days. That's a pretty limiting time frame for any tech development, though it does underline what's been Meerkat's strength thus far - its ability to adapt and innovate quickly, staying ahead of the bigger players (who likely have much more constraining implementation processes).
Live Polling is the first of two new Meerkat features that came out of this process, and it's a good one with a wide range of potential applications and uses.
Definitely, polling is a feature that will be widely used in live-streams - already regular streamers have a rudimentary way of gathering viewer opinions (asking viewers to type in '1' for yes and '2' for no) to get a feel for the popularity of an idea or thought being discussed. In a marketing sense, having access to a poll system like this will come in handy for brands - rather than having to wait for audience response and sentiment, they'll be able to get a real-time pulse, right there and then to better understand what's resonating. As noted, while there are more basic ways to do this already, having a structured poll, which you can also use and refer to after the fact, will be a handy addition to the live-streaming landscape.
Show and Tell
The second innovation to make it through the Meerkat Hackathon is called 'Show and Tell'. Show and Tell enables users to upload pictures from their camera roll to be shown during their stream - so, for example, you might be telling a story in your stream and you want to show an image to add more context. Now you can.
It's an interesting addition, if not groundbreaking. From a marketing standpoint, I can imagine the feature will come in handy for those looking to share graphs and illustrations to support their presentations. A similar functionality also exists on Blab.
As with all new additions and features, it's worth looking into how they work and considering whether they can be of use for your brand. As we've noted on SMT before, live-streaming is not for everyone, but there are a lot of opportunities in the medium and a lot of ways brands can, and are, thinking creatively and showcasing their offerings via streaming content.
These additions also show why we really want apps like Meerkat to continue on - they push innovation and ensure the major players don't get too relaxed and rest on their achievements. Regardless of how you look at it, Meerkat does still have a dedicated community, and they're pushing new innovations and tools which will be of benefit to not only their users, but also the wider live-streaming community. I, for one, am glad Meerkat is still pushing forward, and I wouldn't bet on them disappearing anytime soon.