The Carrot Blog

Meerkat Screens

It's been a few weeks since Meerkat, Silicon Valley's latest startup darling, hit the scene. And it's still red hot. So much so, that Greylock Partners, a well established venture capital firm, just invested $12M into the app. With that kind of money, Meerkat will likely be around for at least a little while longer. Just look at the rapid increase in streams from the app*.

Meerkat streams

As a refresher, Meerkat is a mobile app that lets anyone, anywhere, share live streaming video. The service launched in the weeks leading up to SXSW and was the event's most buzzed about startup. What makes Meerkat special are two things: First, users can get a live stream up-and-running in less time than existing apps – it only takes a couple of taps. Second, Meerkat designed the service as a complement to Twitter. At the moment, it's more like an extension of an existing social network than one in itself. Think about it like Twitpic, the original photo-hosting service for Twitter. Only in this case, we’re talking about live streaming.

There's been a lot of commotion about how Twitter recently denied Meerkat access to its API. This makes the service’s future pretty cloudy, but lets not waste time speculating. Rather, lets consider how Meerkat represents part of a larger trend: live mobile video. Meerkat definitely isn't the first of its kind. Both Livestream and Ustream have been around for some time. It also won't be the last. Periscope (acquired by Twitter) hasn't even hit the public. And who knows what Snapchat might do.

What these services are, is the next evolution of webcams, something that Slate observantly reminded us was a big trend in the 90s. Broadcasting via mobile is only now possible thanks to the recent increase in smartphone adoption and LTE connectivity. But mobile live streaming has one quite obvious difference from webcams: it's possible anywhere. And this opens up a whole new set of opportunities for brands.

We don’t want to give away all our secrets, so here are just a couple.

Opportunities for Brands

  • Integrate spontaneous live moments into your core social content strategy. Everlane, for example, is now giving customers an insider look into their meetings and factories. This delivers on one of the brand’s key value propositions: transparency. Because of the raw and unscripted nature of live streaming, it can be a great way to prove authenticity and build trust.
  • Reinforce tentpole marketing efforts. Moments in time are Meerkat's strength, making it the perfect complement to event TV. Live mobile video could provide an interesting perspective into major awards and sporting events. Imagine your favorite personality giving a behind-the-scenes look before the the big show.

As with any platform, Meerkat is only as interesting as the creative energy put into it. Brands shouldn’t jump on Meerkat without real intent and a strategic rationalization for being there. For us at Carrot, it’s just one of many possible ways to execute a larger creative vision.

*The amount of streams was taken from social listening tools by querying the tool for (“Live Now” AND #Meerkat), which is included in every post when someone uses the Meerkat app. Data is from 2/27/15 to 3/23/15.