Periscope and Meerkat have been the new social media platforms that have sparked interests all over the world. Both are live streaming services which allow users to broadcast content to unlimited numbers of users at one time. But they are clearly in direct comparison, both fighting for the most publicity and largest database of users. Evidently, discussions have emerged about the apps questioning whether we really need live streaming like this and if they will be useful to us. Live streaming has been attempted several times before, so why would it become popular now? It has also been questioned whether this new platform will interrupt services like live sports matches or trips to the cinema to see the latest blockbusters due to users potentially streaming these experiences.

The Periscope app, has been gaining in popularity since Twitter snapped up the app in January 2015. Twitter users can directly post a link to their live stream through the social network, making it personal and easily accessible to their followers. Users can also now comment on live streams whilst watching it, making it one of the most interactive forms of live streaming available to consumers. Periscope is marketing the app as a way to ‘explore the world through someone else’s eyes’ and describe it as the closest thing to teleportation that they could create. Twitter fans can also set up push notifications that will alert them when someone they are following on the app are about to go live. Critics have claimed that the push notification will be crucial in the success of this app as it allows audiences to sync up with the content that is being sent in their direction. In this way, users can now personally see the experiences of people that they follow, creating a more personal connection between users. This could mean following your favourite celebrity or it could even mean watching a live broadcast of a protest thousands of miles away. The best part of this is you can even title your broadcasts, making it easy to attract viewers who would be interested in what you’re sharing.  And of course, if you title something worthwhile, this app could be every marketers dream with live marketing broadcasts going directly into the hands of consumers.

In direct competition of the Periscope app is Meerkat. It has been growing steadily in the app store since February and has now also started to gain fans in high places. Pop artist Madonna chose to promote her new music video ‘Ghosttown’ directly through the service which we’re sure left many fans scrambling to sign up to the site. For Madonna, it’s not her first time to use social media to promote her music as she previously engaged with Snapchat to preview her ‘Living For Love’ music video. These powerful friends of Meerkat can also be down to powerful Hollywood key players such as Ashton Kutcher and Jared Leto who have become crucial parts and investors of the app creation. Even chat show host, Jimmy Fallon, has jumped on the Meerkat bandwagon. But overall, Meerkat is very similar to Periscope in the way that it allows your phone to turn into a broadcasting machine, allowing you to share experiences with users. You can simply press share and live content is streamed from your account. Although it is not an official partner, you can also share your live links to your Twitter feed with a ‘[LIVE FEED]’ tag to inform your followers. Yet, it is obvious that Twitter are envious and perhaps worried about the success of Meerkat, as it continues to push its users, celebrities and marketers towards their Periscope app. We feel this is a ‘watch this space’ moment.

But it’s important to keep in mind that these streaming services aren’t just temporary and what you stream is in fact archived. So before you click on the streaming button, maybe you should have a little think about whether you want this content in the social media world for a very long time. When you are ready, just hit stream and you’re live.

Although we like the idea of this technology as it allows audiences to have an even more personal connection with their followers, we also need to consider that it might have its downsides. For one, many people appear to have forgotten that invisibility is a superpower. We are now seeing an increased number of users wanting to share every aspect of their lives with the social media world. And that’s okay, but it also could lead to people being filmed without their permission either on purpose or accidently. It also leaves a vulnerable gap where inappropriate videos could be shared to followers who may be unaware of what they are about to watch until it’s too late. Meerkat for one doesn’t directly address this issue but just states ‘Be Kind’ in its terms of use. So this could get pretty interesting or disturbing, whatever way you choose to look at it. We were also interested to know how easy it would be to hack the apps. After all, you wouldn’t want to live broadcast EVERYTHING that you do. Although a lot of apps are susceptible for hacking, it seems like a much more scary thought on this platform.

But before our doubts completely put you off, download the apps and take a look for yourself. Do you really need both of these services at your fingertips? We highly doubt it, no matter how interesting your life is. But the direct competition between the apps means that they will be bidding for most audience attention. This is more likely to mean fights to create great services and better content for its consumers. Well aren’t you lucky, lucky people. So pick up your phone, give it a try and please stream carefully.