Compare the Meerkats

Many of my friends and colleagues know that I love tech and social media although I am not the early adopter type. More like the person who comes in after that first adopter wave. Last week, I broke that pattern by being an early adopter of an app that, had taken SWSX by storm. Meerkat is a live-video streaming app where someone logs into the app using a twitter account, and then you can stream live video through your twitter feed. Once you are done with streaming and hit the stop button, the feed disappears ala SnapChat. It is currently only available on iOS but anyone can watch your live stream through their twitter feed.

Whether Meerkat follows in the footsteps of Twitter and Foursquare which made their breakthroughs in SWSX is still an open question. But you know that there is potential when mainstream media write about Meerkat and celebrities such as Jimmy Fallon and Julia Louis-Dreyfus start to use it.

I might have been the first admissions professional to use Meerkat last Friday. I had it all planned out. I used Meerkat’s scheduling function to announce to my 1750 odd twitter followers that I was going to speak at 4:45 pm GMT about the Round 4 applications. @CambridgeMBA retweeted that to their 16,000 followers.

At 4:45pm, on the dot, I was all ready. I had positioned my iPad so that it wouldn’t show the mess on my table or the confidential charts, I had a last sip of water, cleared my throat and pressed start. There was no one watching. I tried to act cool. It was probably just a timing issue, maybe people were fiddling around with their phones or refreshing their desktop browsers. I waited.

The seconds turned into minutes. Suddenly one viewer came on, then another and another. I started talking about how most of the Round 4 applications had been read and decisions would be emailed out in the next hour. I talked about the number of interview invites and some of the common reasons why people were rejected in this round, and that there were still places available for Round 5. I showed some of the office, again trying to avoid any confidential material related to applications. And after five minutes I was done.

So was it worth it? Given that it was free and only took 5 minutes of my time, I would say there was little downside. I did enjoy the live-streaming experience but then again I wasn’t watching myself so I am a bit biased here. Would I do it again? Very definitely yes. I am a firm believer that podcasts, videos and now live-streaming can give applicants, students and faculty an insight into a business school, the personalities and our values. So I will definitely try live video-streaming again but it is still too early to decide whether Meerkat will be the preferred platform — Twitter has already acquired a competitor to Meerkat.

One thing I did learn from being an early adopter is that in social media, size does matter. Jimmy Fallon has 23 million followers on twitter. He had only 2000 people watch him on Meerkat doing a rehearsal for his show. Now you could argue that viewing a Meerkat stream shows a higher commitment than following someone on twitter and that Meerkat is still in its early stages but that’s still a big drop-off.

As for me, I drew some comfort from the fact that my drop-off percentage was better than Fallon’s. Until my colleague Luisa told me she was one of the three viewers. Bah.

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2 Responses to Compare the Meerkats

  1. I am a bit of a second wave adopter myself. I missed the Meerkat session unfortunately. I know that there aren’t replays offered through Meerkat, but did you happen to save the stream to your iPad? and would you make that available to interested viewers?

    • Elisa

      Unfortunately, I had an error message when I tried to save it. One of the downsides of being an early adopter but it does speak for the power of Meerkat that despite the teething problems (how it only plays video in portrait mode, how it crops the top and bottom when viewed on a desktop) that people are still using it.

      I was thinking of tweeting what I said on the video but then I thought, I want to keep the live streaming content quite exclusive for now. And see how far it goes.