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What is Meerkat?

Posted by Joe Clarkin on 3/16/15 11:00 PM
Topics: social media

A new app, Meerkat has been in the news a lot over the last couple days. Partially because it's new and growing, but mainly for its recent controversy with Twitter.

The reason for the news is that Twitter has just blocked Meerkat from accessing the social media giant's social graph, which is the data that shows who follows who. This is an especially big deal for an app like Meerkat, as Twitter's user base has been essentially the foundation of their own group of users. Before this blockage by Twitter, a Meerkat user could follow all of their friends by using Twitter's social graph to see who else was using the new app.


But you may be asking yourself why you should care or how this will affect you. And the answers to those questions are you shouldn't and it won't...yet. So let's explore why Meerkat, if able to overcome this blow to their business model, may be something that you or your store could utilize in the future.

With a name straight out of a startup name generator, Meerkat is best described as a live-video streaming app, which is exactly how it sounds. Only available on iOS right now, Meerkat users simply sign on and either start streaming to their own followers or begin watching another user's ongoing video.

On the surface, that sounds like it might be kind of boring. A bunch of other apps let you take video and the real-lifeness of a live stream seems considerably less interesting than a choreographed Vine or Instagram video. But if you get creative, a live stream combined with the mobility of an app can become compelling rather quickly.

The most interesting part about Meerkat, outside of the Twitter situation, is how quickly the app has grown. Just launched on March 1st, they now have over 100,000 users after just a little over two weeks. There's a good chance that, with all this press, you know somebody who is using or has used Meerkat since it launched.

In fact, the company's rapid growth may have played a role in Twitter shutting down its access to their social graphs. As it turns out, Twitter just invested in a very Meerkat-like app called Periscope, and understandably wants that app to control the mobile live-streaming market. Twitter hasn't come out and explicitly said that this was a big reason for pulling the plug on Meerkat, but it's hard to believe that it had zero effect on the decision.

Twitter's motivations aside, Meerkat may have already built up enough of a user base that they'll be able to keep growing under their current circumstances. Someday, this may be an app that you could use to its advantage as well, perhaps by giving virtual tours of your store or promoting a campus event. While it may be a while before you'll feel the need to put in that much effort on what is currently a small startup app, Meerkat or something like it looks like it could be the next big thing in social media.


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