WE CAN SEE IT ALL: What the Live Stream Video App ‘Meerkat’ Means for the 2016 Elections

Written by Mary Anna Mancuso on March 26, 2015

Before there was Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat, campaigns relied on newspaper ads, radio, and tv ads to get their messaging out and to lure voters to the polls. Now Americans are hyper connected on social media sites and it didn’t take long before politicians and campaigns began using sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to their advantage.

If 2004 was the year of Meetup, 2008 was the year of Facebook, and 2012 was about Twitter, it’s safe to say Meerkat may dominate 2016. Meerkat is a new live streaming app that has become the talk of SXSW and is making waves in social media space especially in the Twittersphere. Political operatives, reporters, presidential hopefuls such as Senator Ted Cruz have jumped on the Meerkat bandwagon.

Even though we are still months away from the 2016 elections, the chatter about how Meerkat will change the election landscape has begun. Having a live stream capability will allow candidates to reach voters and share their campaign messaging in real time. In 2012, Mitt Romney promised to reveal his vice presidential pick on his app. Fast forward 4 years and we may see candidates live streaming major announcements via a Meerkat live video message.

The upside to using a livestreaming video app, like Meerkat, is the ability to give people another way to have an all-access pass to a campaign and candidate. With a society who’s attention span equals that of a goldfish, video has been found to be the best way to share information. The downside to an all-access pass is voters will have the ability to see the good, the bad, and the boring when it comes to political campaigns. Katherine Miller, a former director of a conservative website’s war room noted in a recent Buzzfeed article, “most of what transpires on a given day of campaigning most people do not want to see.

While the use of Meerkat in 2016 has the potential to be another social media platform candidates might have to check the box and wrestle with in their digital strategy meetings. Much like its counterparts of Facebook and Twitter, Meerkat will also require message control and the staging of spontaneity. Since live streaming is exactly that, LIVE, there will be zero chance of hitting the delete key and candidates opting to use Meerkat will be put under an even stronger microscope by the press and potential voters.

It is not to say candidates should shy away from choosing a Real World-esque stream into their campaigns, but they should definitely proceed with caution.

Mary Anna Mancuso was Deputy Communications Director for Congressman Connie Mack’s U.S. Senate race in 2012. After innovating several successful social media campaigns, she was named one of Florida’s up and coming conservatives by the top political blog in Florida, “The Shark Tank.” Today, Mancuso hosts a lecture series called “Politics 3.0” which focuses on how social media has changed the political landscape. After receiving a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Brockport College, Mancuso obtained a Master’s degree in Political Science with a dual concentration in American Politics and International Relations from Long Island University. Her background is in communications with a focus on online social media. Previously she has worked at the New York Bureau of Fox News, NBC-Universal, and as the Deputy Communications Director for the Republican Party of Virginia.