Creator’s Guide to Meerkat
The complete creator’s guide for Meerkat – How to use Meerkat and grow your audience on the popular new video-streaming app. Still don’t know the basics about Meerkat? Be sure to start with our Introductory post, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about Meerkat.
What should creators do with Meerkat?
- Stream a session at your latest public speaking gig, public event, or meetup
- Host a game show or contest.
- Already have another show online or on TV?
~ A behind-the scenes look at your production process.
~ Extended clips and longer interviews by leaving Meerkat running when your regular broadcast has ended (or vice versa)
- Traveling somewhere new and interesting? Show the world!
- Personalized how-to videos will do great here too:
~ Show off that latest recipe you thought of by streaming your cooking experience
~ Whatever it is you do – turn on Meerkat in the office and show off!
- Already have another show online or on TV?
- Already have another show online or on TV?
What Shouldn’t Creators Do on Meerkat?
- Interacting with Viewers While Driving. Stop this. Not only is it illegal in most states, and thus against the Hang w/ Terms of Service… but it’s also irresponsible. Even if you don’t use your hands – distracted driving is dangerous. Stop risking other people’s lives to stroke your own ego with a live stream of your day. You can however show people a ride home safely by mounting your phone like a Russian dashboard cam – you never know what your camera might catch. Works best with a Go Pro.
- Stream people without their consent.
- Language, Nudity. Try to be respectful of other people – don’t surprise them with graphic scenes or sounds – they may be watching or listening in the office. Of course, you can do what you want, assuming it’s legal for you to do so – and I can’t stop you – this is just a plea for creators to be considerate of others.
To start using Meerkat as a content creator today, you’ll need to have an iOS device – as it is only currently available in Apple’s app store (and thus unavailable to three-quarters of worldwide smartphone users – a large problem, frankly).
Download on iOS: Once you have downloaded the app – you can simply sign in with your Twitter login credentials – giving Meerkat access to your camera and microphone, and you are ready to go.
[clickToTweet tweet=” Download the official Meerkat App for yourself: goo.gl/TNvPXE” quote=”Download the official Meerkat App for yourself: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/meerkat-tweet-live-video/id954105918″]
Scheduling a Meerkat
The Schedule button, right next to the stream button – is what you can use to set up your Meerkast in advance. It is the best way to run your Meerkasts – as it gives users a chance to schedule and make themselves available for your stream. Simply set a time, pick an image from your phone or tablet as a thumbnail for the event.
Meerkat Pro Tip: Before scheduling the event – take a photo of yourself with a prop or pose with something related to the event and use that as your event image!
Once your stream is scheduled, refresh your Meerkast homepage (by holding the top of the screen, and dragging down, just as you’d refresh other apps or browsers on your phones and tablets) – and your scheduled Meerkat stream should be visible below the currently live streams, next to other scheduled streams from people you follow.
At the time of the scheduled Meerkat streaming video event, follow your app notification, and head to the Meerkat app to start the stream. When the event finally launches, a second “Live Now” tweet will be made from your Twitter account through Meerkat. Note, that unlike Hangouts on Air on Google – there is no Green Room – once your stream is live – its public. If you plan on streaming a live event – you should start the stream a few minutes before the planned start time – to be sure everything is in working order before the festivities begin.
[clickToTweet tweet=”#Meerkat Pro Tip: After scheduling your Live Stream – share on other social networks.” quote=”#Meerkat Pro Tip: After scheduling your Live Stream – share on other social networks.”]
Delete a Scheduled Meerkast
OH NO! You messed up! It’s okay – it happens. Quickly now – swipe left over the scheduled event in your Meerkat dashboard, which will uncover a handy-dandy delete button! Now head over to Twitter and be sure to clean up any leftover evidence of your shame.
Pro Tip: After Scheduling your Meerkast – be sure to share the link on your other networks too, and increase the reach of your event when it is launched!
Streaming Your Own Meerkast
Whenever you stream a Meerkast, Meerkat can automatically tweet a link with the description you enter to your Twitter timeline. Be sure to be descriptive – use a hashtag or two to make sure your audience or the interested public can find you.
Pro Tip: Once you hit the launch button, anything in front of your camera, or around your microphone will be broadcast live to anyone watching online (open to the public) – so be sure to have everything set up prior to launch. The first thing your camera sees will be used as the featured image for your Meerkast stream in the Meerkat dashboard.
At least until the bugs are worked out – keep your phones vertical! This way your Android and Browser viewers won’t have a very awkwardly positioned and cropped view of your stream. Sure, anyone can watch your stream – but those Android and Browser users can’t interact with you – so don’t be too discouraged if no one replies right away.
Any comments made through Meerkat are threaded to that original tweet as replies, the “heart” button button in Meerkat faves your post on Twitter, and shares by users in Meerkat will not only share your stream in the app to their followers, but retweet your original Meerkast tweet on Twitter. Be sure not to delete that Tweet – if you were to delete it, activity from Meerkat won’t translate over to your Twitter account.
Pro Tip: When commenting on your own or someone else’s Meerkast, be sure not to comment TOO much – as your Twitter followers will see these in their stream – be sure to only comment, like, and share Meerkasts which your audience would enjoy as well (unless on your personal account – in which case – whatever you want!). That, or simply turn off the “tweet” option for comments – to keep your comments within Meerkat only. This is a personal choice – I know some people like the extra tweets and history of discussion within Twitter, but others would prefer not to get any more notifications.
Now, the most important part of the stream – interacting with the audience. You could read those comments, each getting cut off a few words in – or do it the smart way – open a second device (computer, phone, or tablet) and open a tool like Tweet Deck or Hootsuite, and watch for new comments on your “LIVE NOW” tweet from Meerkat. You’ll be able to easily follow up and interact with your audience. However – this will not work as well as it has before – since now people can turn off the comments from porting to Twitter, as mentioned above.
Controlling your Meerkast
The controls are easy for anyone to pick up and master. Once you launch your Meerkat video stream – on the bottom right you can see buttons to activate the flash, switching between the rear-facing and front-facing cameras, and to stop the recording. No, you can’t pause the feed, nor can you mute your mic or turn off your camera during the stream.
When streaming your video – assuming the screen is pointing at you (you can use the front facing camera to monitor the video and cast at the same time) – Meerkat shows us vital details – like how many people are watching, even displaying their profile photos at the top of the screen. If you have more than 12 viewers, they will go off the edge of the visible screen – but you can use your finger to scroll through the images to see if you recognize anyone. Click on their photo to see their name and tagline from Twitter too!
Favorites, RTs and comments by viewers appear on the bottom left side of the screen, and the person streaming the video also has a chat icon available in the left corner to chat with your followers and viewers. Same as profile photos of viewers – you can use your finger to scroll through the chat history while watching the stream or casting yourself over iOS.
Pro Tip: Have Twitter and other social networks open on a second phone, tablet, or computer while meerkasting, so that you can interact and share to your followers mid-stream.
[clickToTweet tweet=”#Meerkat Pro Tip: Open Twitter on another device to interact & share links with Meerkat viewers.” quote=”#Meerkat Pro Tip: Open Twitter on another device to interact & share links with Meerkat viewers.”]
The chat output cannot be hidden – not manually, and not automatically over time – so if you have anything on screen that people HAVE to be able to see, you should be aiming for the middle 60% or so of the screen. As you can see in the example below, by focusing your camera properly you can really optimize the viewing experience for your audience.
When you are ready to finish streaming video to your followers, simply hit the “Stop” button in the bottom-right corner of the screen. Confirm that you wish to end the stream, and you will get a prompt to allow you to save your stream. Please note, this only seems to work for shorter streams, <20-30 minutes in length. Marathon Meerkasts cannot currently be saved – so repurposing the content is not an easy option.
Pro Tip: The best solution to this would actually to have two cameras – perhaps your iOS device with Meerkast and a webcam using Google Hangouts on Air – both pointed the same way – to allow you to stream to Meerkast, as well as keep your recording in for later use. You can vary the content on each one as well, perhaps running longer in the recorded show – much in the way that The Daily Show will air extended interview segments on their website when they are too long for the live TV broadcast.
[clickToTweet tweet=”#Meerkat Pro Tip: Set up a second camera and record your #livestream yourself!” quote=”#Meerkat Pro Tip: Set up a second camera and record your #livestream yourself!”]
View Past Meerkasts
NOT! Once a you stop streaming to Meerkat, the broadcast disappears, leaving only a “Stream Over” page which will allow your viewers to follow you or leave a final comment on the stream’s Twitter post. The CEO of Meerkat, Ben Rubin, has made the promise that a future update would rectify this – allowing people to republish streams after they end. For now, stream owners can choose to save their streams to their devices, but this is not viable for long shows.
“Katch” Your Meerkat Stream
Now, by simply replying with #Katch to your own Meerkat stream the service @KatchKat will upload your Meerkast to YouTube, and tweet a link to you when it’s done.
[clickToTweet tweet=”#Meerkat Pro Tip: Reply with #Katch to your own Meerkat Stream to save it on Youtube” quote=”#Meerkat Pro Tip: Reply with #Katch to your own Meerkat Stream to save it on Youtube”]
UPDATE 4/18/2015: Katch has just been blocked by YouTube. Support their petition for reinstatement here.
UPDATE 4/19/2015: Katch has been reinstated! Not much information on how or why all this happened to begin with…
Your Meerkat Score
Meerkat has built in a way for you to quickly gage just how active your viewers are. The Meerkat score, found in the top left corner of the dashboard under your username, is a cumulative total of your viewer counts, faves, comments and retweets. In the top right corner you can find a Ribbon icon – click that to head to the Leaderboard – see top users on the network – at least those with the highest scores.
Live Streaming Gear
Sure, all you really need to stream on Meerkat is an iOS device – but how can you get the most out of your Meerkasts? I especially like the long clip-on lavalier microphone (over the higher quality Mikey Digital Microphone because I can use it for my phone, my computer, and even my GoPro, not just an iPhone. I did recently lose my flexible tripod on a trip – but my next one is in the mail – those are great for not only standing your phone or webcam on your desk, but for attaching the camera or phone to just about anything around you throughout your day.
The last two items are for the more extreme among you. Please don’t use that head harness in a place like Times Square. You’ll just ruin live-streaming for everyone. (Learn from the mistakes that Google Glass users made). But if you want a great hands-free solution for streaming something you are working on – there really is nothing better.
Mic – Quality
Mic – Value
Subdomains and Forwarding: Your Best Friends
So, I absolutely love taking advantage of subdomains for easy shortlinking. To get to the Social Media Strategy community, you can just type: strategy.smhangout.com and you’ll go right there! My website here is andrij.co – so I made myself two additional subdomains, one for “meerkat” and one for “stream.”
meerkat.andrij.co goes to my follow page (find yours at meerkatapp.co/username)
stream.andrij.co either goes to my follow page – or if I schedule a Meerkast ahead of time – I go and update the link forward to my upcoming stream. Sometimes I’ll forward it to my Hang w/ profile page, in case I’m streaming over there!
This way – I can promote the same links over and over again – and new clicks on old links won’t get lost seeing an old stream concluded page – they’ll be able to jump in with me live on my newest stream, or follow me with my follow page on Meerkat.
Meerkat at Your Favorite Events
So, with Social Media Marketing World top on people’s minds… and Meerkat exploding all over Twitter – chances are there will be MANY trying to stream from there. Please don’t ruin everyone’s internet experience by using the Wifi there. If you can afford the trip to SMMW – then you can likely afford unlimited data. Don’t be a data hog and use your own data account for events with a shared wifi connection. Wifi is a vital service needed for people to keep working throughout the day.
More tips and secrets to come!
This guide is far from complete. I already have some great ideas to try out – and I’ll be sure to report back when I’m done!
Additional Posts and Resources
• Five Creative Ways Brands Can Use Meerkat For Marketing by Ross Simmonds
• Eight Ways Brands Can Add Meerkat Into Their Marketing Mix by Anna Francis