Not so long ago, here on Smoking Gun PR’s blog, we trumpeted the arrival of Meerkat, a still-relatively-new live streaming app that allows people and brands to set up broadcasts for other users to watch in real time.
When we first wrote about the launch there were several questions to be asked. We initially pondered whether Meerkat represented the future of social media or a species of rodent. Once that was clarified, Susie Hood mused on if it was a ‘brand opportunity’ or legal minefield. And then, finally, Kineta Kelsall suggested this type of app was going to be huge, probably, given the reaction at SXSW in Austin, Texas.
Since then plenty more has changed. Meerkat originally had access to Twitter’s user data (you needed a Twitter account to open a Meerkat account), but this was blocked after Twitter launched its own ‘Meerkat killer’, Periscope (loosely speaking, a very similar app). People discussed the impending death of the rodent software, but rather than that happening it seems the pair found they could co-exist. At least for the moment.
As such it’s no surprise Meerkat has continued to add more to its offering, with news hitting today that the public will now be able to sign up for an account simply by linking their Facebook profile to the app. That’s quite a big step forward, with far more users on Facebook than Twitter in every territory on the planet that allows said social giants to function.
That’s not all, either. Cameo has now been unveiled, a new functionality that democratises a live stream to some extent. Put simply, by using this option the control of a broadcast can be transferred to another user for up to one minute, at the approval of the broadcaster. Clearly, then, the potential for brands to exploit this is huge.
Confused? Unconvinced? Still to be sold the story? Here are a few examples of how Cameo can be used within a company’s marketing model…
Think along the lines of Google+’s Hangouts, whereby brands can host a live interactive session with the public. Then apply that to giving each member of the audience involved 60-seconds to react to what has just been said/broadcast. Possible uses range from book clubs and the like, through to press conferences.
Fans always want to have some direct contact with the stars they love. Just look at the popularity of Twitter’s Q&As. And, whilst sometimes those in the spotlight have come unstuck as a result (see 50 Shades of Grey author, E.L. James, a recent #PRFail on our Blagger’s Blog media roundup), if pulled off properly there’s no reason this can’t succeed on Meerkat Cameo, too.
Picture the scene, you announce a new branded competition that involves mimicking an action, speech, song or just about anything else that can be broadcast. You state a time and Meerkat URL on which the competition will take place, and then invite the public to nominate themselves to be one of the many users taking hold of that stream for 60-seconds, in the hope of recreating your work the most faithfully, and winning the grand prix.
There’s already an example of The Weather Channel having one of its studio-based presenters reporting on the climate in various locations, and then ‘Cameoing’ to various correspondents in those locations. Now consider how many other ways that idea could be incorporated.
Overall, then, Cameo exactly the kind of ingeniousness we love, and the concept has more legs than the London marathon. Well, sort of. However, there is the small matter of brands potentially getting into trouble if they hand their stream over to people that want to sabotage the campaign, and even if that doesn’t happen, the aforementioned blog story on the legal ramifications of these live broadcasting apps are arguably even more noteworthy if members are given control over the accounts of others.
Still, it’s a fascinating development. Here’s a brief video showing how Cameo works in practice – take a look and see if it doesn’t inspire you…