What The Rise And Fall of Meerkat Can Teach Us About Social Media

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  • April 10, 2015
  • Joey Held

If you were anywhere near SXSW this past month, Meerkat was all anyone was talking about. Forget about your favorite band, or a new film coming out. Meerkat was the HOT app that everyone was jumping on (with a cute mascot to boot), and if you didn’t catch the train before it left the station, you’d have to walk along the tracks like some sort of modern-day Boxcar Children. Or something like that. Train analogies are hard.

At its core, the app was a live-streaming service. Meerkat sent out a message to your followers that you were currently on Meerkat, and they could watch as you gave a presentation, played a game, or even made a sandwich. And it was incredibly simple to do: after downloading the app and connecting it with your Twitter handle, it just took one push of a button to get going. You were broadcasting to the world when you pushed that button, and the world could watch along and comment. Fans of the app believed it was the perfect synergy of everything social media stands for coming together.

Except Meerkat never took off. Its alleged success was almost entirely built on tech media buzz around it. In fact, the highest ranking it reached on the U.S. iPhone download chart was #140—not very good numbers for the supposed app of the year.

Even with $14 million in VC from investors (including Jared Leto), Meerkat was doomed. Twitter, which had recently acquired a similar app in Periscope, wasn’t about to let a competitor run amok. So Twitter did something drastic: it cut Meerkat off from its social graph. Sure, Meerkat users could still broadcast to their Twitter followers, but the app couldn’t automatically link users in the same area or group of friends, and push notifications – telling you when someone you knew had signed up or was broadcasting – had become virtually non-existent.

More importantly, consumers just weren’t really onboard with Meerkat. And that’s kind of crucial. Sure, you can play around with every single new app or social media tool that comes out, but that’s not a good use of your time or resources. Particularly if you’re running a business, there are more important things to worry about. As social media evolves, brands are becoming more selective of the social media channels they use – and that’s a great thing. It’s much more useful to be on the networks that make the most sense for your business

Need help deciding where your brand should be?

Use Facebook to build relationships with your customers, and to drive sales with advertising.

Get on Instagram if your products are beautiful and eye-catching.

Connect with people or other brands in your industry on Twitter.

Utilize LinkedIn to generate new leads and maintain top of mind awareness.

Take advantage of Vine if you can tell your story in just a few seconds, or YouTube if it takes a few minutes.

Try Google+ if you’re a pro at presenting or have somebody doing a Q&A – hangouts were built for that kind of thing.

Don’t worry about being everywhere at once, though. It’s easy to spread yourself too thin, and the more platforms you’re on, the less attention you’ll spend on each one. Become a master at one or two. You’ll find success is a lot more attainable.