A couple of weeks ago we reported on the trials and tribulations of Meerkat, the increasingly popular live streaming app that unwittingly built itself on top of Twitter’s social graph, distribution and communication systems, unaware that the social media giant had already acquired a rival live-streaming app, Periscope.
That’s where the startup’s tribulations really originated. Twitter wants everyone to use its Periscope app, not Meerkat. The evidence appears to be accumulating that Twitter is intensifying its efforts to drain Meerkat of a vital source of social media lifeblood: celebrity endorsers.
Social media products need famous people to spread the word amongst their fans if they’re to stand a realistic chance of gaining traction with consumers. According to an unnamed source who spoke with TechCrunch journalist Josh Constantine, it’s exactly that celeb word that Twitter’s trying to trample on. The source said that Twitter’s celebrity outreach team has been resorting to “very aggressive tactics”, adding, “Twitter hounds every celebrity after they try Meerkat. Almost to the point of stalking.”
Can this approach to securing market share really pay off? According to the same source, it’s rubbing feathers up the wrong way internally at Twitter:
“Twitter is absolutely obsessed with Meerkat. They talk about it all the time to the point that the Periscope employees and founders are angry.”
Yet despite Twitter’s hype, the rival apps are more similar than they are different. The social network is currently trying to position itself as a broadcasting platform: its “Amplify” product pairs video production and media companies with brands to create promoted tweets based on video clips. Both the brands sponsoring the promoted content and the media companies that created it get a boost – and rumour has it that Twitter has been telling the media companies that their access to the product will be cut off unless they use Periscope exclusively.
However, Meerkat isn’t sinking just yet. It recently claimed bragging rights over a big exclusive with Madonna, and it’s by no means certain that Twitter can succeed by directly lobbying against rivals. Aggressive tactics like that have “backfire” written all over them: the app that succeeds in building its audience most effectively will win, and people generally don’t like being told what they should and shouldn’t like.