What Happened: This year’s SXSW Interactive startup star, Meerkat, is a new video app for IOS that allows users to start a live stream using their iPhone or iPad. It basically works like FaceTime for your entire extended network, as starting a video stream with the app automatically allows anyone to tune in from his or her own phone, tablet or desktop. However, Meerkat already has hit its first major obstacle. Because of Twitter’s move to block users’ ability to import social connections between platforms, it effectively means Meerkat will not be able to piggyback on the potential years of follower build-up individuals and brands have developed on Twitter.
What This Means for Brands: Though the block from Twitter isn’t a death sentence for Meerkat, it does pose significant challenges in adoption and use, as people interested in tuning into live streams will have no choice but to access the Meerkat app itself. This means they’ll be unable to see the quick tweet link and call to tune in that may have intrigued them enough to try out the platform otherwise. Meerkat generated 16,634 mentions around the Twitter shutdown on Day 3 alone, according to StoryConnect @ Omnicom. So thinking optimistically about founder Ben Rubin’s ability to overcome the adoption and sustained use issues with Snapchat-esque Discover features, there are many possibilities for both brands and publishers. Some major brands already have started early experiments with the app, while Yahoo News and Self magazine also have been quick to embrace it. The platform provides the opportunity to offer an inside look into events, product launches or key campaigns – a major appeal to brands. It may be too soon to say, but with 30 percent user growth since Twitter announced it would block the app, Meerkat is on many brands’ radars – and undoubtedly the breakout winner from SXSW 2015.