What Are They?
In short, Meerkat and Periscope are apps which allow you to create and share live video broadcasts across social media. They have a huge amount of similarities including; they’re both only available on iOS for now, they both connect to and heavily rely on Twitter for operation (at the moment), both allow you to engage with viewers, both help you discover streams to watch and both allow you to save streams to your camera roll. But, it’s their differences which sets them apart and will ultimately decide which app will come out on top.
Since the launch of Meerkat we’ve been inundated with posts about how live streaming is the next big thing to happen to social media. However there’s a very public battle going on between Meerkat and Periscope which is getting everyone a little confused.
It all started when Meerkat was declared the ‘darling’ of SXSW. No sooner than the show was over Twitter announced its acquisition of Periscope, kicked Meerkat off its social graph and blocked new Meerkat users from accessing its follower/following lists, this is when things started to turn a little messy!
Latest rumours suggest that Meerkat is deliberately approaching celebrities on Twitter owned Vine, and that Periscope has deliberately been targeting celebrities and influencers using Meerkat and asking them to switch to Periscope otherwise they’ll risk losing access to Twitter’s Amplify.
We’ve done our research and downloaded both apps to see how they compare.
Lingo: Users are called ‘Scopers’ and when you’re broadcasting you’re said to be ‘Periscoping’.
Periscope is the easier of the two to set up, you simply login via Twitter and follow the few short steps. The app’s layout is traditional and easy to use; it has a menu bar running across the bottom of the app and a profile view which can be selected by tapping the icon in the upper right-hand corner.
Starting a broadcast is easy, tap on the camera icon at the bottom middle of the screen to line-up your shot and get started. Periscope then prompts you to name your broadcast and gives you the option of posting the broadcast on Twitter and revealing your location. You then just tap ‘broadcast now’ and Periscope will broadcast whatever your phone’s cameras are seeing and microphones are hearing.
Periscope streams can be accessed at up to 24hours after they’ve been streamed and are available to view on desktop, we see this as a huge benefit to Periscope as it hugely increases a broadcaster’s potential reach. What’s also clever is that Periscope syncs any interactions with the broadcast so that when it’s played back you can see comments coming in as if watching in real-time.
As Periscope is integrated with Twitter it gives you immediate access to your current Twitter following, this makes it easy to find your friends and for anyone who follows you to tune in and comment on your broadcast. Periscope allows you to interact with a broadcast in two ways; by commenting or by sending hearts, both are visible to the broadcaster and other viewers. Commenting is useful for showing your support or sending the broadcaster instructions e.g. ‘speak louder’ and the hearts not only make a sweet way to let a broadcaster know that you’re still interested, but are also counted to get the broadcast on Periscope’s “Most Loved” list.
Lingo: Users are called ‘Meerkatters’ and when you’re broadcasting you’re said to be ‘Meerkatting’.
Just like Periscope, Meerkat works by logging in via Twitter however the sign-up process wasn’t as seamless. Rather than pulling my details from the Twitter app where I’m permanently signed in, it redirected me to Safari and made me sign in there. Not a huge deal, but not great either. Since then Meerkat has asked me to login almost every time I go to use the app, which would be frustrating if I needed get a broadcast up and running very quickly!
Meerkat’s layout is very different to Periscope, instead of having a menu bar the live streaming element is the focal point of the app. The app’s home screen prompts you to “Write what’s happening”. The only other places to go are to a section which details your follow numbers, a search function to help you find accounts and a leader board which lists all Meerkatters by score.
Like Periscope, broadcasting is easy. Just fill in the ‘write what’s happening now’ box and tap ‘stream’ or ‘schedule’ to either broadcast now or set up a stream for later. Although we do love Meerkat’s schedule feature, our two biggest annoyances for broadcasting on Meerkat are that it auto-tweets a link to your broadcast and broadcasts are only every live streamed, so if you miss it, it’s gone.
Finding people also isn’t as easy. You can find people to follow by searching for their name, by checking out a list of featured broadcasts, or by browsing the app’s leader board. Interacting with streams can be a little annoying too as any Meerkat comments are automatically posted on to Twitter as @replies – a little confusing for your Twitter followers without any context!
To Wrap It Up
We’re really excited about the potential that live streaming brings, not only to social media but to broadcasting in general. These apps give the public the power to broadcast their own news and help connect the world. At the moment we’re leaning toward Periscope as our app of choice due to its design, usability and features, although we can’t help but secretly root for Meerkat as the underdog!
Get in touch if you’d like to find out more about making the most of social media streaming.