How Meerkat and Periscope can transform social journalism

You may have seen some tweets appear in your stream over the past couple of weeks utilizing two tools recently made available to the public – Meerkat and Periscope. Immediately, news organizations began testing them, seeing what works and what couldn’t work when it came to developing new relationships with audiences.

Indeed, as testing of these platforms took place in organizations around the world, there had been an increasing consensus that more work should be done, including the British publication The Economist, who did a live stream on Meerkat discussing the British economy. The Economist, according to a report from the Guardian newspaper in Britain, was one of the first UK news outlets to use it.

“Live streaming is fun and has the informality of Twitter rather than the seriousness of TV, so we should do more of it,” said Tom Standage, the paper’s deputy editor, in an interview with The Guardian, adding that it could bring wider benefits to the paper’s coverage of the UK’s general election, due to be held in May.

These tools, albeit new, have the power to transform news organizations’ overall engagement with audiences on social media, as social video continues to become increasingly popular not just on these apps, but on apps including Twitter, Instagram and Vine.

Yet, Meerkat and Periscope are able to stand out in the vast world of social media, because of the guaranteed immediacy of the interaction of audiences, helping them get the full story, especially on breaking events. There are no restrictions on time, and the experience of streaming becomes a live conversation, something Twitter had been keen to emphasize with its acquisition of Periscope.

With a number of directions that can be taken from a content standpoint, newsrooms should not be hesitant with these apps or incorporating them into a social strategy. Indeed, inclusion of them will be a step forward for the organization, and can allow more out of the box thinking when it comes to social strategies.

If you’ve not used it, take time to think now about it, and what Meerkat and Periscope can do for your newsroom. I’m sure you’ll find that the benefits outweigh the cons.

Alex Veeneman, a Chicago based SPJ member and founder of SPJ Digital, blogs on social media’s role in journalism for Net Worked, and serves as Community Coordinator for SPJ. Veeneman also is Deputy Editor, Media Editor and a writer for Kettle Magazine, an online publication in the UK. You can interact with Veeneman on Twitter here.

The views expressed in this blog post are that of the author’s, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SPJ Digital executive, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

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