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Tags: Trump Administration | Jeb Bush | Rand Paul | livestreaming | app | meerkat | twitter

New Livestreaming App May Play Role in 2016 Campaign

By    |   Wednesday, 25 March 2015 02:52 PM

A new app has the potential to sway a whole new group of voters in next year's presidential election.

Meerkat, which debuted last month, allows users to livestream video on Twitter. It could become a valuable tool in candidates' digital arsenals as they try to reach as many voters as possible before Election Day.

Dan Pfeiffer, who served as the White House director of communications (2009-2013) and a senior adviser to President Barack Obama until he resigned last month, made the case for Meerkat's use in the campaign season in a post on Medium.com.

"Now admittedly, no one seems to know how to use the thing yet," Pfeiffer writes. "Most of what I have seen thus far is either jumpy streaming of events or uncomfortably awkward reporters talking to their followers. Meerkat has also hit a bump in the road with Twitter cutting off access to its social graph.

"But whether it is Meerkat, Periscope or someone else, the potential for a service that makes livestreaming this easy is limitless. It could do to television what blogs did to newspapers by removing many of the financial and structural advantages of legacy media institutions."

The list of benefits for candidates using Meerkat during the campaign is long, Pfeiffer argues.

For one, every moment of the campaign season could be broadcast in real time on the Internet — from speeches in front of an Iowa cornfield to meetings between a candidate and his staff.

Apps like Meerkat are generally marketed toward the younger crowd, meaning candidates will have a direct line to them simply with a few taps on an iPhone screen.

"It will take a while for the political and media worlds to figure out how to best use this technology for communication and engagement," Pfeiffer writes. "The first efforts are likely to be clunky and awkward in a way that only reporters and political operatives can pull off. But by the time voters start showing up at VFW halls and high schools to caucus next year, it will be clear that yet another new technology is in the process of revolutionizing our politics."

In a Wall Street Journal piece, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul — who will reportedly announce he is running for president on the Republican ticket in two weeks — said he used Meerkat during a recent tech summit.

"I think the thing is, we're trying to get new people engaged," Paul said. "When you look at Snapchat's audience, they have probably the biggest 18-24 audience. … If you don't go to a platform where they are, you'll not find them."

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who is also mulling a White House run, livestreamed a speech on Meerkat last week, reports the Journal. Less than 400 of his more than 170,000 Twitter followers tuned in.

Meerkat is designed for mobile phones, plain and simple. That's evident in its vertical video format, which looks fine on the tall phones most Americans use but not so great on laptop and desktop computers, which are in a landscape orientation.

A BuzzFeed story by Katherine Miller, on the other hand, argues that Meerkat might not have the impact on politics as some think it will.

"Most of what transpires on a given day of campaigning most people do not want to see," Miller writes. "I know because I was the director of a conservative website's war room in 2012, and I spent that year endlessly, ceaselessly watching video from the campaign, waiting for news."

Instead of documenting an entire campaign on video, Miller thinks Meerket could be used to capture more intimate moments like a candidate's chat with a handful of reporters following a big speech.

Meerkat is only available for iPhones at the moment. According to Statista.com, there were an estimated 63.2 million iPhone users in the U.S. last year.

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A new app has the potential to sway a whole new group of voters in next year's presidential election.
livestreaming, app, meerkat, twitter, 2016
Wednesday, 25 March 2015 02:52 PM
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