More than a cute relative of the Mongoose, Meerkat is a live video streaming app that caused a ruckus at South by Southwest — the annual gathering of tech culture — back in March.
A few months later, live streaming apps like Meerkat, Periscope, and Blab are among the latest social media tools to sweep the digital landscape.
Let’s Back Up. What the Eff is Live Video Streaming?
When you take a video on your phone, no one but you, and perhaps a friend or two, will ever see it. That is, unless you share it via YouTube /Facebook/Twitter/etc. (And depending on the contents perhaps it’s a good thing.)
Now imagine, if you will, you download an app, like Meerkat, click “stream,” and start talking. Now, you’re live streaming to anyone who’s on Meerkat. (This means that anyone in the world can watch your video as you record it.)
Why Do People Want to Use This App Anyway?
Meerkat gives you the opportunity to connect with your audience via video quickly and easily. There’s no editing and nothing to upload.
Harnessing the power of live streaming for your business allows you to build a community, boost your exposure, and potentially, increase sales.
There’s also an early adopter advantage to being among the first to use a new platform. Can you imagine if you’d been serious about creating YouTube videos for your business way back in 2005 when it started? You could have thousands of subscribers now.
Same for Twitter followers… or Facebook… or… you get the picture.
When you’re early to the game, it’s so much easier to get noticed. And getting noticed is the first step to getting customers.
How to Download Meerkat
Downloading — and using — Meerkat is incredibly simple. (BTW, you can opt to just watch videos on Meerkat; creating your own isn’t required.)
Here’s how you do it:
- First, go to the app store, search for “Meerkat app,” and download it.
- Meerkat will ask you to type in your phone number for verification. Then, they’ll send you a four-digit confirmation code.
- Next, connect the app with your Facebook and Twitter accounts so you can easily find your friends. (If you prefer, you can skip this step and check the app out in stealth mode like I did.)
- If you don’t want to add friends, don’t connect your accounts. Simply scroll down and you’ll see anyone who’s live streaming right away. Keep scrolling for more.
The first time I logged in, I watched a couple skydiving in tandem and a jeweler designing rings. The next time I logged in, I saw a stream entitled “Live at the Pawnshop,” Clearwater, Florida.” Like its name suggests, the video was of a guy pawning items for sale in his shop. Props for taking the initiative.
How About a Few Ideas to Get Started…
Small business owners are using Meerkat in a variety of ways. Check out the following ideas, but don’t let them limit your own!
- Show your process – If you make handmade goods, you understand your process — but your potential customers don’t. With a live streaming app, it’s easy to set up your phone or ipad (use a stand or tripod to keep it steady) and let ‘er rip while you’re creating a piece.
Once your viewers understand the process, they’ll value what you do more.
- How-to videos — This is perfect for fitness trainers or anyone else whose business revolves around teaching others. You can also use how-to videos to teach your customers how to use your product. Show them how to create a new hairstyle using your homemade headbands. Show them how to wear fall’s hottest looks using your clothing line. Break it down for your viewers.
- Behind-the-scenes – If you have a brick-and-mortar store, why not give viewers a tour of it? You can also show your shop getting ready for Small Business Saturday for example, show off your employees in a quick, fun video, or highlight your jewelry-making process.
- Add #katch to your Meerkat video stream description and your video will automatically upload to your YouTube account. Talk about #instantgratification – if only everything in life were so easy.
When you produce interesting content via a social media channel, you’ll increase your followers, and likely increase your sales (over time). As you can see, it doesn’t need to be complicated. You can simply add live streaming to things you’re already doing.
That being said, if you give Meerkat the old college try and your audience just isn’t responding, don’t feel the need to continually beat a dead horse. (Or meerkat). If your time is better spent elsewhere, (like trying out another marketing trend or improving your Facebook presence), move on to that.
Not every app, social media site, or marketing tactic will work for everyone, but what’s important is that you put in the time and effort to find out which ones will work the best for you!