The evolution of the Meerkat app and journalistic engagement

Author: Meredith Witthar

Today marks one month since the app Meerkat was launched. Here is a look at its rapid growth and opportunities for journalists.

What’s Meerkat?

On February 27, 2015 Ben Rubin launched his startup application.
Meerkat is a livestreaming application that connects with your Twitter so that you can share a video with the world. Meerkat’s rules include things like, “Everything that happens on meerkat happens on Twitter,” and “Be kind.”

Who’s using it?

Naturally people have started using Meerkat in many different ways, including showing you what they’re currently wearing or what they’ve had for lunch. Red Bull even joined in to live stream, and so did Tennessee Football.

How does this connect with journalists?

But, journalists have jumped in on this app’s craze as well.

One of the first journalists to use Meerkat to stream an interview was Jon Ward, Yahoo News’ Senior Political Correspondent. Ward interviewed U.S. Sen. John Thune, R – S.D., and he live streamed the interview to everyone who accessed the link on his Twitter account.

Meerkat is still growing, but it could be a great tool for journalists to engage with their audiences. NBC Nightly News’ Lester Holt has used the tool by taking his audience behind the scenes of the NBC Nightly News Newsroom.

Amy Wood, a South Carolina interactive anchor on WSPA7, used Meerkat to give her viewers a look around the studio and how she was preparing for her show. The Economist has used the platform for economics correspondent Henry Curr talk about deflation in the United Kingdom.

While this app may not be just for journalist or newsrooms, it can be a tool for them to use to stream directly to their viewers and start a broader and more open dialogue on issues.

This timeline below illustrates how Meerkat has grown in just the past month since its launch.

What are some other options for journalists?

Journalists can do more with this app to engage with their audience than just livestream interviews or behind the scenes shoots.

Reporters can livestream questions to their audience, asking them what they want to see, and those people can then either tweet their answers, or livestream a response. There’s also an opportunity to livestream breaking news, understanding that there’s no delay set up in the app.

What’s the competition?

As of right now the biggest competition for Meerkat will be Periscope, which is Twitter’s own version of the livestreaming app. Neither currently has an application for Androids, but both are available on the Apple AppStore.

However, one major difference is that Periscope users can stream to their web browsers or their smartphones, whereas Meerkat users can only use their phones.

Meerkat launched its application first, and already has huge users like Jimmy Fallon, but with Twitter’s already large base of celebrities and other famous names there is room for competition.


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