Start live streaming now, Extension

Right now, mobile live streaming is the hip new thing.

Meerkat was all the rage at the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival in Austin, Texas and recently, Twitter confirmed its acquisition of Periscope, which is rumored to be a direct competitor.

Of course you are wondering, “What is mobile live streaming?” And, “What is all the hype about?”

Great questions, but the ones I often hear are, “How will Extension stay relevant in the 21st Century?” and “How can Extension reach Millenials?”

There are many answers to these questions, but here’s one solution: Utilize Meerkat during your next Extension workshop, presentation, training, or activity. When Periscope comes out, try that out too! Just start live streaming.

The skinny on Meerkat

Meerkat is a mobile app for iPhone and iPad (sorry, not yet Android) that allows users to broadcast live video streams from a phone or tablet to their followers. It is linked to your Twitter account so once you start a stream, a tweet is automatically sent out to your Twitter followers with a link to the stream and a [LIVE NOW] alert.

What’s significant about Meerkat is that it allows for instant connection with one’s followers – who can comment on your stream – and the streams are only available to view live and cannot be re-watched later. Users can also watch live video streams through the app or web browser.

Meerkat doesn’t allow users to watch recorded broadcasts or set up private streams, and its entire identity, communication, and distribution system is built on Twitter.

Why must Extension live stream?

Live streaming is something that I think will be huge.

Imagine all the people from around the world who would love to watch a Master Gardener workshop, a canning class, or a 4-H financial literacy training on their mobile device. Land Grant Universities are trusted and highly regarded sources of information, plus (most) Extension professionals have tremendous personalities. It’s the perfect combination!

Millennials are mobile first. They (we) prefer to consume content via our mobile devices. Want to reach them (us)? Start live streaming. Get ahead of the curve. This is a new platform and Extension has the opportunity to establish a presence and following in this space before it becomes more widely adopted.

Put yourself out there, set-up your iPhone on a tripod or ask one of your staff, or better yet a (Millennial) volunteer to stream your event. In seconds you will be able to broadcast your presentation to anyone in the world with a connection and iPhone.

Peer-to-peer live interactions have arrived and they are on the rise. It started with Snapchat’s chat function which launched almost a year ago. Now Meerkat is going viral. More platforms will come (and go), but live streaming has arrived and its a tool you can use to reach, engage, and impact more people.

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