We’re a quarter of the way through 2015 and it’s beginning to look like one of the emerging (reemerging?) technologies for the year will be live stream apps. Live stream apps have been around for years but two new apps have recently launched that push live streaming in new directions.

Meerkat and Periscope have launched apps that allow for social live streaming via mobile phones. They let anyone start live streaming videos with realtime feedback from people they know and people they don’t.

Periscope Rises Above

Of the two, Periscope is the better option by far in my opinion. It’s more user friendly and has some interesting features that Meerkat doesn’t seem to have. Also, it’s now owned by Twitter so you can expect it to be more tightly integrated within Twitter down the road as its popularity rises. That will be good for any business interested in trying to use live streaming smartly. 

Periscope seems to have figured out that some people will be active observers with comments and hearts but they also allow for the passive lurkers who just want to see what’s going on at any given time. Meerkat doesn’t function that way. There’s nothing to do until someone you’re connected to decides to start streaming. There’s no discovery opportunity and that’s a big difference in the two. If you’re going to try one, try Periscope.

Why These Apps Matter

The bigger deal here is not Periscope versus Meerkat, but the fact that live mobile streaming seems to have the first solid opportunity for mainstream adoption that it’s ever had...and that’s where businesses should sit up and take notice. Your customer may soon be live streaming the experience they have at your store or unboxing your product or talking to your service technicians.

It’s really just more of the same though. Right? If we live in a world in which everything is marketing now (and I would argue we do) it’s no different than the customer posting to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram…except this time it’s via live video. Does live video change anything? Do companies respond differently with live streams than with recorded video or photos? We’ll see.

Three Things To Do Today

This is all very new so it’s wide open right now. The rules are being written today. Here are three things you can do today as you consider how live streaming apps may impact your business.

1. Download Periscope and Meerkat. You need to know what these look like, how they function and how people are using the apps. Download them both today and spend some time with them. You’ll inevitably do more with Periscope than Meerkat, but get them both anyway.

2. Notify Your Team. Your employees need to know this exists. They need to be aware of it…particularly if they deal with customers in real life. I know this may be a massive undertaking depending upon the size of your team but Periscope, in particular, is already one of the most popular new apps in iTunes in less than a week and you can expect a lot of new users trying it out. Your team should know this exists and not be surprised if (and when) they find themselves broadcasting to the Internet via a customer’s smart phone.

3. Reveal Something. As you consider how you might use live streaming apps, start with a behind the scenes view of something your business does. Don’t try to sell anything. Give a peek behind the curtain. Talk to the people who comment on your stream. This is a revelatory medium. Use it as such.