March 29, 2015

Meerkat App

VZW Disclosure

Live streaming video just came to our phones in the form of Meerkat (currently available only for iOs) and Twitter-owned Periscope (available for iOS and Android). Launched first, Meerkat had its big coming out party at South by Southwest. It was quickly downloaded by celebrities and non-celebrities alike. Periscope followed close behind and has its contingent of early-adopters too.

Live streaming video got a big boost a few years ago when Google came out with its Hangouts on Air feature on Google Plus. HOAs could be done on a smartphone so it’s not as if this concept of live streaming video for the common-man is all that new and novel. But with Meerkat and Periscope, the barriers come down and the learning curve gets flattened so that anyone with a Twitter account and a smart phone can host what is, effectively, their own show in real-time.

Much of the discussion about both apps is focused on its use in marketing your brand or business. However, there are significant uses outside of marketing. It won’t be surprising to find the adult entertainment industry figures out how to put it behind a pay wall, as that industry dominates the live streaming video segment. However, for those of us looking for more family friendly uses I got to thinking about ways the Meerkat and Periscope apps can be used by those of us outside the brand and PR areas.

Given that both are public platforms you may not want to share sensitive or confidential information. But, here are my

14 Awesome Ways Anyone Can Use Meerkat or Periscope


1. Business meetings – gather people anywhere in the world for real-time conversations that allow them to be in the field or on-location. I can see this working especially well with Periscope since that app has a private feature.

2. Concerts – while some venues and artists try to prohibit concertgoers from using their smartphone we know that’s a bit of a joke. Both Meerkat and Periscope will allow you to share your experience at a concert with your friends and followers. I doubt the footage will be all that spectacular but I can imagine it would be pretty awesome to be part of a concert you can’t attend.

3. School performances or assemblies – sharing with family members who can’t attend would be a great way to stay connected. I can see this being a wonderful option for parents who travel or can’t get away from work during the school day to see their kid being awesome.

4. Tutorials – while it may be better to record a tutorial on something less fleeting, I can see both Meerkat and Periscope being useful for sharing information for a one-time engagement.

5. Doctor visits – this would definitely need to be a private experience so Periscope would win on this one, but I can see this being helpful to include out-of-town family members in a doctor visit for a parent or grandparent or other family member (or perhaps even a friend) when there is a need to share the information. Sometimes we may not know the questions to ask and this would give our support team an opportunity to ask questions in real-time.

6. Travel – I can already see hundreds of great uses for both Meerkat and Periscope for travel. I can also see it being as annoying at many say the selfie stick is, but as with the stick, there certainly many positives.

7. Education – Salman Khan started what is now the global enterprise Khan Academy in his closet doing math on YouTube videos for a family member. While I like the permanence YouTube offers, I can see there being a niche to live stream educational training.

8. Politics and public meetings – Live-streaming candidates from the local level may bring more into the political process. At higher levels, I can see this being a more intimate option than the traditional structured format. These live-streaming apps have the opportunity to bring the political process to those who may not be able to get out due to a variety of limitations.

9. Pop-Up Shows – In the entertainment industry, few things are really all that spontaneous. In fashion we have pop-up stores. We have mobile restaurants now with food trucks. One thing we’re really missing is the ability for musicians to broadcast. Jimmy Fallon has live-streamed his monologue rehearsal so why not have musicians of all levels connect with their fans in a similar way.

10. Ask Me Anything expert sessions – why limit expertise to webinars or online text conversations when you can live-stream it? Both Meerkat and Periscope open the door (or is that window?) to bring experts in their field to the masses with few barriers. Students around the globe can chat with their favorite author, scientists can bring access to their expertise with a few taps on your smartphone. A skilled technician can share their knowledge with apprentices and novices alike. The possibilities are endless!

11. Weddings – you can’t invite everyone and not everyone invited can attend, especially if it’s a destination wedding, but with a live stream everyone can be there. Along with weddings, I’d add in Bar and Bat Mitzvah‘s too!

12. News as it happens – no longer will we have to rely on photos pieced together or major networks sending out a crew, this ushers in the era of live broadcasting in the palm of our hands.

13. Cooking – with cooking shows being as popular as they are, both of these apps level the playing field on who may be the next cooking star. There are many great home cooks around the globe and this could be both informative and entertaining. Combine this with travel and all the mouth-watering food stands around the globe and we’re no longer left drooling over Pinterest pins trying to figure out what to make for dinner.

14. Social Good – I’m a big fan of paying it forward. And while I’m not big on broadcasting every act of kindness, I can see that having a live-stream of global goodness could be a positive and encouraging experience. Posting photos of leaving a gift card in a book at the bookstore or taping a few dollar bills on a vending machine are great. But why not bring it real-time and spread goodness and get others involved.

There will be no shortage of ways businesses try to incorporate live-streaming video, whether with Meerkat or Periscope (or any of the others that come along after). A quick search just a few days after they’ve been launched and there are already pages of results. All are focused on how a business can use these new apps. But who wants to download an app just to be marketed to. There has to be something in it for us other than just being an audience.

I think there are many great ways both Meerkat and Periscope will allow us everyday folks to embrace this next level in technology connectivity. How do you think you could use these apps in ways that would benefit you personally?



March 23, 2015

The Red Tent

There comes a time in a woman’s life where things change. After several decades of dealing with “that time of the month”, for most women of a certain age that time never comes one month. Then two. And you know you’re not pregnant. But the first time it happens you’re jolted and your mind zips around like a pinball was just released.

Ask the experts about menopause symptoms and age and treatments and you’ll get 16 more questions than you will answers. At nearly 46, I’ve been told I’m “young” to reach menopause. In the US, the average age is 51 and the average age range is 48-55. Call me a high achiever!

I was probably 42 when I started experiencing some of the telltale signs of menopause, other than skipping the monthly cycle – weight gain, feeling flushed without reason, night sweats. As if being irritable and all the PMS-y symptoms aren’t enough for women let’s invite more annoying people to this party. And since I never really experienced PMS or any of that cyclical physical or emotional change all I knew was this sucks and it better not last for long.

Nonetheless, here I was in my very early 40s heading into this game called perimenopause. Nothing like that feeling of knowing something in your body is going to stop working and there is nothing you can do about it other than carry a fan, hope you don’t sweat like you’re on hike through Death Valley in June, and don’t annoy everyone around you because your hormones are swinging more than 4 year old at the park on a spring day. And yet, there was nothing really to look forward to.

See, when you’re a young girl there’s the special video at school, the talk, chatter among your friends, and the dread that your mom will tell all her friends (and now, the hope that she won’t post it on Facebook). It’s a big celebration when a girl becomes a woman. Today there are even fun videos, cool monthly gift boxes, and colorful apps all to make the monthly lady days a joyful rite of passage. The concept of the red tent isn’t gone, it’s just gone digital.

And here I am, being evicted from this sisterhood. There is no Happy Menopause party. No fun countdown calendar to the end of your egg-producing days. And for all things no longer sacred, no one wants to read an “I am officially in menopause” post on social media. You just know, that when the twelfth month comes and goes without a visit from Aunt Flo that you’ll pack up your pillow, your snacks, and all those memories and walk out of the red tent never to be invited back.

And just like no one likes “creepy old guy” hanging out at the clubs and the hotel bar, you start to wonder if that’s what you’ll become if you still want to spend time with your red tent sisters. The women who’ve taken this path before us haven’t left us with instructions on what to do next. Surely, it’s not like going to work one day and Sally’s just not there any more. But it kind of is like that. Because among the elders in the red tent it’s not a topic we discuss. We’re in that tent to support the young girls, to watch after them, to remind them that this monthly visit is a powerful, and empowering, time.

So on March 1st, I walked past the red tent knowing I’d never get to go back in. It doesn’t matter that as the month’s past I felt like I wasn’t missed. At my age, the proverbial red tent doesn’t exist as much as it did when I was younger. Still, there is a sisterhood in that tent and I wasn’t part of it. I wanted to take one last peek in and say goodbye. But that’s not how this works. Good thing in 2015 we have cool coffee shops and chic bistros to meet our girlfriends and wax nostalgic about our time in the red tent.



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