Periscope and Meerkat have brought live-streaming video to the masses via Twitter, but they also exacerbate a problem with “social” media today.
Big brands already treat Twitter as a broadcast channel, with 70 percent of top-tweeting companies delivering one-way, self-promotional communications.
And while you can have a conversation within both of the current “live-streaming du jour” apps, the experience isn’t optimal.
Today, Nurph — a popular Twitter chat client — has announced the launch of its video-to-video streaming capability, which brings real-time conversations to Twitter grouped around hashtags.
The big difference? Instead of a smartphone-based experience, Nurph allows you to have full-blown, text-based conversations with hundreds or thousands of people while simultaneously conversing on video and audio with a select few.
“The latest wave of live-streaming mobile apps are great for broadcasting to followers when you’re out and about,” Neil Cauldwell, founder and CEO at Nurph, told me. “But ‘Nurphers’ tell us that they love the conversational interaction that Nurph’s video-to-video streaming offers.”
Nurph’s live-streaming solution is a very different experience from Meerkat or Periscope.
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On launching the web app, users join a channel via a hashtag and start chatting with each other. Nurph then allows the opportunity for the chat owners to include video participants. Think of it as a cross between a regular Twitter chat and a Google+ Hangout.
Twitter chats are not new, of course, but they are also not particularly mainstream. Despite the social network having over 300 million active users, there are only approximately 7,000 active weekly Twitter chats.
“Twitter chats are niche because of the number of hurdles in front of both the hosts and the participants,” Cauldwell said, “be it simple things like finding the right Twitter client, choosing the right hashtag, or even just finding out which Twitter chats are out there.”
But savvy Twitter users know how powerful and social they can be.
Buffer’s own #BufferChat generates over 3,000 tweets per week, reaching millions of impressions in the process. And you’ll find similar success stories in every field of interest.
“There’s #StarTrekHour, #LitChat, and #EdTechBridge, all building community around conversation,” Cauldwell said. “People prefer to be seated at their desk or on their sofa when participating in a group chat, which is why Nurph is focused on the web browser experience right now.”
Which also means you’re free to type and talk, something that smartphone app users find challenging both on the broadcast and consumption sides of the experience.
Nurph can have up to eight simultaneous video streams within a channel, but the solution isn’t just for public displays of social media.
An “exclusive” mode limits the conversation to only those that you follow in Twitter, and an “RSVP” mode creates a private chat. The solution also includes screen-sharing, making it an interesting portal for demonstrations, public figures, and product launches.
In addition, chats can be replayed, and Nurph also supplies audience measurement, statistics, and moderation controls.
As far as the Twitter chat discovery problem is concerned, Nurph is making the job of creating, finding, and joining Twitter chats easier for everyone.
“ChatSalad.com (a partner site to Nurph.com) is a real-time homepage of Twitter chats which aims to make it easier to find out which chats are out there and what time they’re on,” Cauldwell said.
But the success of Nurph’s social approach to live-streaming video will be measured by its scale. Right now, the company is not adding a barrier to entry.
“Everything that is free of charge in Nurph will continue to be free of charge,” Cauldwell said. “We have a road-map for launching premium features, but we need to scale out to a larger user base before it would make sense.”