Digital Voyeurism Through Live-Streaming Apps at Your Next Event

In a world where digital voyeurism (the desire to watch and be watched online) reigns supreme, how can savvy meeting and event planners harness their power at their next program?

It’s no secret that Millennial’s share their lives with friends and strangers in ways that have never before existed thanks to the proliferation of social platforms. The popular kids in the school of social sharing are Twitter, Facebook and Instagram; a pack of easy-to-access, affordable event marketing tools that many planners have incorporated into their events.

The new (actual) reality shows of the 21st century are Meerkat and Periscope, two competing video-streaming apps that operate on the Twitter platform. So what are they, and how can planners capitalize on their offerings in their meetings and events?

Is this thing on?

Here’s how both Periscope and Meerkat work:

When a user opens the app, they write a brief title for the video they are about to shoot from their smartphone (both are available in iOS only), then click “stream” (Meerkat) or “share” (Periscope).

Thousands of people can watch a single person’s stream by clicking on the tweet link, which is made available to the public with the click of a button within the app that broadcast’s the user’s video to anyone who they are connected to on Twitter.

Once your video is live, anyone who joins your stream is able to comment in real-time, starting a conversation with both the streamer and anyone else viewing the video.

Applying live-streaming apps to your next event or meeting

Imagine the possibilities for how this can impact your next meeting or event. The power to give your attendees a virtual seat at any table, any presentation, any site visit – you can literally bring your clients and attendees with you anywhere thanks to these new, user-friendly technologies. Here are just a few ideas that spring to mind:

1. Site-Visits: Client can’t make it from L.A. to Asheville for your first walk-through? No longer an issue. Simply have them join your stream as you showcase the options you’ve sourced for them.
2. Weather Updates: One of the many things we as planners can’t control is the weather, and making sure our attendees know that we’re monitoring it and are prepared with a Plan B can be a bigger headache than hoping the weather itself cooperates. Let’s say you have an outdoor reception planned, and a spring storm blows in, wreaking havoc on your would-be beautiful evening. How great would it be if you live-streamed a video of your staff breaking down Plan A, and transforming your Plan B (a gorgeous interior on the same property, let’s say) into a ready-for-guests oasis?
3. Keynote Speakers: Instead of hiring an expensive film crew to broadcast your meeting online, click “stream” on your app of choice and allow immediate access to the education your keynote is delivering for all of your followers (and strangers).
4. Live Interviews: Ask a well-spoken member of your staff to grab a selfie-stick and head to the tradeshow floor to interview attendees live about their experiences and to drive traffic to programming.
5. Behind-the-scenes View: Give your AV team, production team or entertainment a tripod to set their phones on to broadcast rehearsals, set changes, and the evolution of your space from canvas to the awe-inspiring opening reception you’re throwing.

Which to use?

Meerkat operates off of Twitter’s platform. That is to say that Meerkat’s foundation – literally what it was built upon – is Twitter.

Periscope also operates off of Twitter’s platform, but has a significant advantage over Meerkat in that it is owned by Twitter.

As TIME reported, “Twitter/Periscope’s huge advantage over Meerkat is that they own both the seas and the ports.” Owning the platform that an app operates upon is a massive leg up for companies such as Twitter, and the single-biggest threat to competition. Re/Code recently broke down the differences between the apps, and made one all-encompassing statement about the vulnerability of Meerkat to Twitter and Periscope: “[A] platform owner has significant power. Startups building on that platform are vulnerable. Platform owner capitalizes on its clout and attempts to move in for the kill.”

Consider putting in a bid for an event for 10,000 people at a venue that is owned and operated by the City of Chicago. Consider further that you don’t get along with the Mayor, who conveniently decides he wants to host his next campaign event in that same venue at the same time. You’re likely going to lose that bid. Same concept.

A betting planner would go with Periscope, and based on a recent experience in which the very user-friendly Meerkat didn’t work on 3 streaming attempts, I’ve become a Periscope believer.

Have you tried either of these new live-streaming apps? Which do you prefer?