This article first appeared on PR Daily in June, 2015. Video is a popular form of content for brands, but live streaming makes it even more enticing.
According to The Daily Dot, Periscope generated about 51,000 tweets during its March 26 release, and Meerkat—which was released Feb. 27—garnered more than 200,000 tweets about the app by the end of March.
As social media users—including celebrities and brand managers—flock to these apps, the buzz grows. According to Alex Pettitt, there were more than 36,500 tweets about Periscope for Android on its May 28 release, compared with 136 the day before.
However, there can be trepidation for many PR and marketing pros looking to take part.
“From a branding standpoint, live-streaming is an absolute train wreck in waiting,” Alan Chapell, attorney and head of Chappell and Associates, told Adweek. “Somebody is going to screw up.”
Though there is a risk involved with social media and live streaming, brand managers stand to lose out on engagement opportunities if they’re scared to take part.
PR and marketing pros who anticipate trouble can garner value for their clients and companies by using Meerkat and Periscope.
Here are five ways you can use the apps in your social media efforts:
1. Power up tips, tricks and how-to videos.
Pithy listicles that give readers easy takeaways or how-to videos that demonstrate a skill are popular online, and the content is easily shared. However, PR and marketing pros can take things one step further and share information live.
Dr. Michael Salzhauer, owner and chief surgeon at Bal Harbour Plastic Surgery, holds Periscope broadcasts to answer cosmetic surgery and medical school questions. He has also video-recorded rhinoplasty and breast-implant procedures, answering questions from viewers as he worked.
2. Become intimate with your fans and followers.
Elan Gale, producer of “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette,” streams Periscope broadcasts of himself doing laundry, walking to his car or singing songs that viewers request in real time.
Though Gale doesn’t answer questions regarding his shows, giving fans a look into his personal life makes many feel more connected to the producer—and, by extension, to the show itself.
PR and marketing pros looking to deepen the connection with their audiences can use live streaming apps. This is especially true for a personal brand (such as Fallon’s or Gale’s) that fans can relate to.
“Brand managers now have their own TV stations in the palm of their hands and can create content immediately and reach audiences globally,” says Cathy Hackl, CEO of Globally Social and PR director for the Periscope Summit.
3. Take “Ask Me Anything” sessions to the next level.
Many brand managers hold Q-and-A sessions through Twitter, Facebook, Reddit and other social media platforms, but Periscope and Meerkat can add a personal element to those exchanges.
Scott Budman, a tech and business reporter for NBC News, goes on Periscope every weekday to answer questions that viewers send him through the app or via his Twitter account. Live streaming apps give an “Ask Me Anything” session a personal touch. Moreover, sensitive or inappropriate questions can be ignored more easily than on a Reddit thread or through a brand hashtag (such as #MyNYPD).
4. Give consumers something extra.
Applebee’s premiered its latest menu on Periscope, Adidas used the app to show fans soccer player James Rodriguez signing a contract extension, and DKNY gave followers a peek into the designer’s closet.
Each brand’s manager or team used live streaming to show fans and followers something more than an ad or a Facebook post. PR and marketing pros can use these apps to give behind-the-scenes interviews, take viewers on a virtual tour of the company headquarters or showcase guests at events or in the office.
You can use this form of direct communication and timeliness to your advantage. Have something to say about a breaking news item or trend? Talk directly to your audience—and get real-time feedback—through a Periscope or Meerkat stream.
5. Break through in a crowded space.
Social media platforms are busy, with brand managers competing to get their messages heard by consumers. Visual content attracts even more users, but if you’re not already a power pinner on Pinterest or a YouTube celebrity, you enter each platform with tough competition.
The newness of Periscope and Meerkat offer early adopters—including brand managers—a leg up on the competition. PR and marketing pros who carve out a niche can attract followers and perfect a brand strategy before the apps become too crowded.
Though Periscope doesn’t offer stream scheduling, Meerkat does, and those who follow you on the app or on Twitter can subscribe to your broadcast. There’s even a Meerkat Streams page that lists several upcoming broadcasts.
“I don’t think every brand or business needs to be on Periscope,” Hackl says, “but if you do, you need to have great content that engages and shows followers why your brand stands out. I see lots of opportunities for brands in travel and tourism, health and fitness, retail, media and beauty. I also expect it to be the darling of the electoral campaign trail in 2016.”