#crisis2020 predictions from SXSW: real-time video

Just a few minutes ago, I watched a CNBC reporter interview the founder of @AppMeerkat in a behind-the-scenes livestream before the live TV interview. If anything signals the future of crisis communications in a real-time media environment, this is it.

meerkat CNBC 3-11-15.fw

Just more than a week old, the real-time streaming video app syncs directly to a user’s existing Twitter account – and most importantly, their existing audience. Whether you’re a brand or an individual, you know that building a high-quality audience interested in your content is a time- and resource-intensive activity. This is the feature of Meerkat that many early adopter and analysts believe, if anything, will tip it into mainstream use.

From an article in Fast Company yesterday, Meerkat founder Ben Rubin: “I think what helps brands here is the fact they don’t need to cultivate their own identity on the platform, it just allows them to live stream from their Twitter account,” says Rubin. “It makes it easy for the people making those marketing decisions to jump quickly into the platform because they don’t have to worry about a whole new profile to maintain and cultivate.”

If today’s corporate communications teams are challenged by size, rules and inertia to quickly produce a video message in times of crisis, just think of the operational changes that need to be made to communicate via real-time video stream. And yet for teams that can accomplish it, the payoff could be enormous: Think of the captive audience already following a brand’s Twitter account and eager for news now. If not the perfect app, Meerkat is the perfect beacon for what truly lies ahead.

In two days, 50,000+ technologists, communicators and entrepreneurs will descend on Austin, Texas, for the 2015 South by Southwest Interactive Festival. There’s usually a new mobile/social platform, or five, that attendees spend the week testing to its breaking point. This year, @appmeerkat is the early front-runner, and you can bet attendees will be stretching the limits of their data plans and Wi-Fi networks to livestream the latest and greatest #SXSW moments all week. The app may survive and become mainstream, or we may be on to another emerging tool in a few weeks. But the underlying trend and consumer interest in video isn’t going anywhere. And for predicting the future of crisis preparedness, what we need to watch are social behavior trends, not just trendy tools.

For the next nine days, I’ll be at SXSW keeping an eye out for trends, tech and tools for my content series #crisis2020, which you can follow right here on the Weber Shandwick Minneapolis blog, and on Twitter at @wsmpls and @lgmelcher. From real-time video to wearables to artificial intelligence, I’ll be examining the arc of emerging technology to bring perspective on how brands can prepare now for the next five years of crisis mitigation and management. Follow along and send questions/thoughts to @lgmelcher.

Lauren is a digital strategist and crisis preparedness lead for Weber Shandwick, based in Minneapolis. She is the global product manager for firebell, the agency’s proprietary multimedia crisis simulator, and has produced 40+ crisis readiness simulations for dozens of international companies in the food, cosmetics, travel, insurance, government, healthcare and banking industries. Lauren is also a lead global resource for drafting issues/crisis response plans, specializing in integration of digital media best practices with overall strategy and processes.