Digital Tool Tuesday: Meerkat vs. Periscope


Welcome to the weekly feature highlighting a digital tool to leverage for lifestyle and arts and entertainment coverage.

The tools: Meerkat vs. Periscope

Where to find them: Apps for iPhone and Androids

What are they: Easy to-use live streaming to social media. Periscope is a tool fully integrated with Twitter, Meerkat is a standalone app that uses Twitter. Because Periscope is a Twitter-sanctioned tool, it’s easier to stream through it.

How they work: Both give you the ability to live stream from your smartphone to Twitter followers. Both also offer real-time live streams for you to view. Both apps allow viewers to respond with “love” buttons and share the live stream with others.

The difference is in the look of the screen. Periscope’s screen can be highly animated, with little “hearts” indicating viewers’ likes floating during the broadcast. On Meerkat, comments and likes are overlaid on the screen.

In both apps, people can send short comments or ask questions, which ramps up the interaction during a live stream.

Both use Twitter as notifications for your followers to view your live stream. Meerkat does not cache live streams; Periscope makes it available for 24 hours.

How can it be used?

Broadcast organizations quickly adopted them to live stream behind the scenes before local news broadcasts.

CNN has used it frequently; “Reliable Sources” host Brian Stelter used Meerkat to take viewers on a tour of his offices preceding his Sunday morning news show. A Storify shows how he did it.

You can harness it for live chats. The commenting function is perfect for that.


Above, a screen grab from Periscope


— The key is to get more people to view your feed in real time. Be sure to have something happening, including being able to be on camera and talk nonstop. Passive pans with no narrative usually don’t get new viewers.

— Check your newsroom for policies on live streaming. Some larger news organizations want to legal review of third-party apps before they are used formally in reporting. Periscope might be easier to clear because it’s fully affiliated with Twitter.

— You can see which of the folks you follow on Twitter are using the app in Periscope.

— You can search for people or usernames, but neither has advanced searches to pinpoint locations or subjects.

More: Click here to see a look at the two apps, side by side

EdShift’s discussion on the impact of Meerkat and Periscope on the future of journalism


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