Don’t Believe the Hype

Meerkat & Selfie Shoes

This blog is not an April Fool, first and foremost. Not that there would be anything in its content that may lead you to suspect that it was. I’ve never been a big fan of April Fools, it’s rare that I see anything that I think is any good.

However, saying that, this did make me smile when I saw it: ‘selfie shoes’.

It does look ridiculous, although for me it is still as plausible a product as the StandStand, which I blogged about a while back.

April 1st can be a bit of a minefield, in terms of separating out truth from fiction. I had to double-check a few of the stories I had selected for our social media output. But this is, in fact, true for any given day, as evidenced by the hoo hah around the Meerkat app: the live streaming app that allows users to broadcast real-time footage from wherever they are in the world, via Twitter.

I recently read this really interesting and counter-point article on the Meerkat app and the media coverage that accompanied it, by Tero Kuittinen. It basically says that Meerkat has never actually been that popular, and is already being surpassed by Periscope, the rival live-stream app that was recently purchased by Twitter. Here is an extract:

“Despite media coverage that most new apps would kill for, Meerkat failed to get anywhere close to the top 100 chart in the U.S. – even though on a typical week, a dozen new apps crack the top 100. Meerkat is an app that underperformed your average Croatian Flappy Bird clone or the 10th most popular diner simulation of the past year. Yet dozens of notable tech reporters kept tweeting and blogging about Meerkat as the biggest break-out of the year.
There is zero doubt that this media frenzy directly influenced last week’s funding round. Looking at just the download metrics of the app, the $14 million round is incomprehensible.”

Hype is a funny thing. A brief conversation on Periscope in the Gasp studio last week led to one of us to comment: “Oh, it’s Twitter’s answer to Meerkat.” Which is true, but there was an assumption there that Meerkat was the benchmark, the quickly established brand of live-streaming. But it seems that it has never been so. It only came into existence a month ago, for a kick off! Periscope was actually founded just over a year ago.

In terms of functionality, Periscope “makes Meerkat look like a tech demo”, according to Guardian reporter Alex Hern. So is it a great piece of PR and marketing that has seen them secure $14m in new funding, or just questionable journalism? I suppose you can conclude it is somewhere in between. Maybe Meerkat have some great links in journalism.

One of the easiest things to do is to jump on a band-wagon without really forming any opinions or facts for yourself, and you end up regurgitating links to stories that are talking of ‘the next big thing’ that is not, in truth, that big.

But even if Periscope becomes the leading light of live-streaming and Meerkat falls away, it is still a really interesting phenomenon. We tweeted recently about Adidas linking up with Twitter and covering Real Madrid’s James Rodriguez signing a new deal with live-streaming via Periscope.

Even in this article, the Drum refer to Periscope as a “Meerkat-style” app, inferring it is the standard in live-streaming apps, such is the strength of the media frenzy.

I can’t believe that Meerkat can continue to exist solely on Twitter, as Periscope will get precedence, and Twitter are already making it hard for Meerkat to have full functionality available on the platform.

These apps certainly help sate our thirst for having everything instantly, yet even further than that, they make any member of the public a potential TV news broadcaster.

I imagine people doing live streaming from sports events, music gigs or even film premieres will open up a can of copyright and piracy issue worms, akin to when people try and record films in cinemas off their phones. Brands will have to be wary of what exactly they are sharing via live-streaming.

And no doubt there will be a lot of average content out there, as ever, but the potential for what can be done is very exciting for both marketeers and consumers.

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