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British television viewers will be well accustomed to the link between meerkats and the travel industry. But this relationship goes beyond an advertising campaign for a popular price comparison website! Meerkat could be the next big success story in travel, and is already achieving some extremely impressive engagement numbers. The average Meerkat user is in fact spending around two hours per day utilising the platform. This is an extremely unusual level of user engagement, and suggests that Meerkat will become hugely successful in the near future.

What is Meerkat?

So what exactly is Meerkat? This is a new application which enables users to live stream video via Twitter. Although this may seem like a fairly straightforward proposition, the overwhelming popularity of Twitter ensures that it has already achieved a significant traction with fans of social media.

Meerkat enables users to access the program and then start a live stream immediately. Alternatively, it is also possible to schedule a stream for a later date, if you wish to record something and then subsequently broadcast it. Recording is extremely straightforward and slick with the Meerkat program, and as soon as you start streaming live, a link will be posted on Twitter to inform those are following you that you are now broadcasting.

There are many possible uses of Meerkat, and although the application has a lot of promise for social and fun usage, there is also huge commercial potential as well.

If you’re wondering where the name of Meerkat comes from then there is an explanation for this perhaps somewhat obtuse selection. A meerkat colony features a large number of meerkats which are constantly standing sentry in order to observe the world around them. It is simply intended that the Meerkat application will provide a similar video view of the entire world.

Meerkat has already been appraised by industry analysts for the simplicity and user-friendliness of its approach to video posting. And this is unquestionably an application which provides compelling opportunities for digital travel marketers. The Meerkat team has dubbed the potential offered by its software as “spontaneous togetherness”, and it's easy to see in a world in which social media has become hugely significant how accurate this description could potentially be.

Random interaction with strangers is at the essence of the travel experience, and this is something that Meerkat is attempting to deliver as well, in a social media sphere.

Broadcasting Immediacy

Possibly one of the most notable aspects of Meerkat is its immediacy. Meerkat is attempting to make appointment viewing an aspect of social media video content. Meerkat attempts to push viewers to view content immediately, thus achieving an exciting and immediate form of engagement with the app. Although video is stored on users’ mobiles for later viewing, the limits of on-board storage ensures that this will be fairly limited; particularly if users are following multiple Meerkat accounts.

But the makers of Meerkat intend for people to access the app by utilising the #Meerkat hashtag, and it is easy to envisage this rapidly becoming a major trending hashtag on Twitter.

Interestingly, the rise of Meerkat very much mirrors the strategy of Twitter itself in recent months. Twitter has recently officially announced the acquisition of Periscope, which effectively does an extremely similar job to Meerkat. This has been very much necessitated by the increasing prominence of Meerkat, with Twitter’s commercial acquisition acknowleding that the age of mobile live streaming is truly beginning.

It is easy to anticipate that in the near future there will be a multitude of communities and diverse user behaviours all developing around at this new form of communication. This will offer massive commercial opportunities to companies, and savvy digital marketers will be preparing for widespread social media live streaming in the foreseeable future.

Attractive Digital Marketing Opportunity

What makes Meerkat a particularly attractive proposition for marketers is that it does not represent a new social media stream that needs to be managed. Meerkat is layered on top of the existing Twitter ecosystem, ensuring that established Twitter users can utilise their established accounts. This not only saves on man-hours, but also provides Twitter users with the potential and opportunity to attract more interest in their feeds, and gain more commercial traction from existing followers.

As the Digital Tourism Think Tank has reported on numerous occasions, video is becoming an extremely important and prominent way of delivering a commercial message to consumers. A good recent examples of this is Melbourne’s Remote Control Tourist project, which demonstrated succinctly exactly how live video can engage across multiple platforms, and help brands to create market penetration and buzz.

There are many creative ways that travel companies and destinations can utilise Meerkat in order to create engaging content. A series of live feeds could be provided from specific points within a nation, as an individual, or groups of individuals, tour a particular location. Or a weekly show could be created by marketers which showcases an attractive aspect of a destination.

Other possible content could include live interviews with locals, restaurants promoting certain special dishes, or tour operators speaking to travellers at the end of a tour. The possibilities are limitless, and this is definitely a tool which can enable affordable yet absorbing engagement with audiences via video broadcasting.

What Meerkat ultimately provides is an outstanding platform for content creation. This video recording social media tool will provide an outstanding opportunity for digital marketers to showcase and promote both destinations and travel-related businesses, in a way that significantly increases both engagement and awareness.

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