2 Lessons from Meerkat that Have Nothing to do with Meerkat

"Meerkats" by Ronnie Macdonald is licensed under CC BY 2.0

"Meerkats" by Ronnie Macdonald is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Who knows if Meerkat is here to stay or completely dead? Anyone who says either is just after your click. And who cares—Meerkat’s quick spike in popularity is more about the underlying behavior of social media users than anything else. 

Here are the two big takeaways we’re focused on:

1. People want to see cool stuff

Since social media started, guys like me have been advising people to make their social media interesting by giving people a look “behind the curtain.” Show people what you do while it’s being done. Give them raw information—photos, videos, stories—before you’ve had a chance to distill it through your particular lens (let them form their own lens).

This is one of the big reasons Meerkat blew up. It’s live, raw video—no edits, no real preparation, just shoot-and-go. People like it when you loosen up and stop trying to polish your content so thoroughly.

2. If your stuff isn’t cool, no one wants to see it

It’s one thing to watch Jimmy Fallon flip on his Meerkat app and talk about the St. Patrick’s Day parade while he looks out his office window. That’s cool. It takes the host of The Tonight Show and makes him into any other one of your friends or Twitter followers. The rawness of the video—crappy lighting, watery sound, shaki-cam-ness—creates a sort of tactile feeling, like you’re there. It makes him real.

On the other hand, a shitty video of you walking around your office is just that: a shitty video of you walking around your office. (Exception: Your office is The White House.) If you aren’t inherently interesting (sorry) you need content that is.

This will happen again

These “rules” apply to all social media. Meerkat blew up because it offered a new format for them to work. But as new social networks crop up, we’ll see them catch fire for the same reasons (and also, luck). 

If you want to be successful on social overall, don’t get caught up on the network; pay attention to the behavior.