Thursday, March 26, 2015

Perhaps I'm Just Not Cool, and This Won't Help (or) My Thoughts on Meerkat & Periscope

I’m not anti-Periscope or Meerkat. I think it offers amazing branding opportunities and chances to see different viewpoints and even parts of the world that I wouldn’t otherwise be exposed to. This is a great real time marketing opportunity for brands to showcase what they are working on, help with consumer education, bring their community along to events they are unable to join in person…it’s hard to stop my marketing brain from coming up with more and more instances where this will be enter into my strategic planning. I do sometimes like to be a voyeur and get an inside peek into certain people’s lives and this is just the thing to quench that thirst. It’s only been a few hours since the arrival of Periscope (oddly released before it was meant to be, or was saying that just to make us feel even more cutting edge for having adopted it even earlier?) and I’m already a fan, where I wasn’t of Meerkat.

I just have some questions. And concerns.

People like to be “famous.” It’s a sad part of our culture and with the new attention on apps such as Meerkat and Periscope, the opportunities to have million of eyeballs on anything and everything you do at any point of the day, makes this “insta-fame” even easier. There’s the saying “it’s like a train wreck, you just can’t look away” – will we feel the same watching a live stream of crime happening? Suicide in real time? Look at how famous serial killers become. Part of some peoples human nature is drawn to and obsessed with people who do bad things – will we make live streaming killers just as famous?

There is never a lack of news and trials about date rape, hazing, people passing out in college dorms and being taken advantage of while unconscious, only to find out through Instagram pictures that an incident occurred. How long til these acts are live streamed and simultaneously posted on Twitter streams across the world?

I recently brought up some of my concerns on the growing popularity of these new apps, and was quickly reminded that “live streaming on the internet is nothing new.” While that’s true, the attention it is now getting is new. And when people see that something is hip or popular, they want to be a part of it. Admittedly, I am drawn to it as well. Both good and bad, I suffer from “FOMO” quite often, and like most people in my online communities, always want to be an early adopter of new digital trends. I also have choices to make. And morals. And beliefs. And goals of who I want to be and the person I strive to become every day. And part of who I am is inherently curious and questioning (and more often than I’d like to admit even to myself, opinionated, generally loudly). Because of this, I have concerns.

When people do reality shows, there is a long involved screening process and many releases to sign. As more people are publicly live streaming, we are in a way, cast into their reality show with no release and quite possibly no knowledge that we are even involved. I can have live stream without anyone I can be filming knowing I am doing it depending on where my phone’s camera is placed. And while the people around me that are being filmed might never want to be included, they have no say in being distributed to anyone anywhere around the world.

I am also finding that watching unedited versions of people I know online and have long respected are losing a bit of my respect (or a lot, depending on what point of their streams I tune into) for their lack of humility. Ego is one thing I work hard at keeping out of my life, both personally and professionally. When someone mentions their “fans” in a live stream, I’m immediately turned off (and so is their stream). Why would you think I want to turn into you driving to work? Or walking your dog, streaming your inner monologues? Perhaps I need to vet who I follow and whose streams I watch more deeply, and weed out those that I’m not interested in. Perhaps my writing this blog is me being just as bad as some of the streams I’m discussing here – thinking anyone cares what my thoughts are on this topic.

Points of difference I’m enjoying on Periscope over Meerkat:

·        Replay – unlike Meerkat, Periscope saves live streams once they’re completed, and allows you to play them back later or keep them saved (streamers are also given the option to NOT have their streams saved)

·        Upon sign in, you are brought to a screen that shows you what streams are currently live, from both people you follow and those you don’t yet follow, as well as a list of recent streams. This is huge, IMO, as you can literally browse through streams to find what speaks most to you

·        Hearts – while you are watching a live stream, if you tap the screen, you send out a heart. You can send an infinite number of hearts, to show your appreciation to the streamer that you enjoy what they are doing. Both the person doing the stream can see this, as well as anyone else signed onto the stream with you

·        Comments do not post directly to Twitter – this was my biggest annoyance with Meerkat. There would be all these tweets in my feed that didn’t make any sense, there was no conversation to view around them, and no auto-hashtag to give them context. While I suspect this may change with Periscope, comments do not auto publish to Twitter and I love that.

Neither app currently allows you to preschedule broadcasts further out than 24 hours and I think for brands, that will be a game changer for whichever platform makes that available first. To be able to tweet out a date that you will be giving a talk or live streaming an event will definitely help experiential marketing.

I look forward to your thoughts on this. In the meantime, I’ll be delving in and joining people at home, at work, in their cars, at the store….

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