And... Action! The 6 Best Apps for Creating Original Video Content

This guest post was written by our friends at OnSIP. Check out their blog, The Business Voice, for more articles on SMB leadership, business technology, and office management.

Online video is becoming a necessary part of every company’s content marketing strategy. According to an infographic by HighQ, online video accounts for half of all mobile traffic, and 55% of people watch videos online every day. Experts predict that by 2018, video will take up an astounding 79% of consumer internet traffic!

That’s great - but let’s face it, videos are expensive to produce. Most startups don’t have a budget to hire an agency to make professional videos.

Live video-streaming apps offer a unique advantage for startups on a budget. From educational tutorials to live event coverage, customer testimonials to behind-the-scenes footage, startups are now able to produce instant video content without a camera crew or editor. In fact, most live streaming apps are free for users and run on both Apple and Android devices.

To help you pick the right app for your marketing goals, here’s an overview of the top six video streaming apps available today.

1. Blab.im

Blab.im is a Twitter integrated platform that allows people to host live video chats that viewers can watch from the sidelines. Up to four participants can engage in a Blab session, while an unlimited number of users can tune in and watch the conversation unfold. Viewers who sign in with Twitter can also participate in the live chat alongside the video feed.

Blab is most similar to Google Hangouts, but its inclusion of viewership and broadcasting opportunities makes it more of a social video app than Google Hangouts. Since its launch as a simple Slack integration last year, Blab.im has hosted a bevy of aftershows, interviews, discussions, podcast recordings, and coaching sessions with its live video integration. Angela Leavitt of Mojo Marketing and Mike Oeth of OnSIP host a semi-monthly show called #SMBlab that focuses on SMB trends and technology.

Blab is still in officially in beta on iOS and desktop.

2. Periscope

Periscope is Twitter's live video streaming app that allows users to start live broadcasts using their smartphone cameras. Users sign in with their Twitter credentials and can instantly broadcast live videos with a unique link for their followers to watch. Broadcasters can also customize the title and privacy of their videos. In addition, Periscope supports location ID, live interaction from viewers, and video file uploads. All broadcasts are saved for 24 hours.

A recent infographic by Salesforce pegs Periscope's user base at approximately 10 million, which is largest out of all video streaming apps. Here, the lack of production is an advantage. The spontaneity of an amateur mobile video makes viewers feel like they’re in on something exclusive and intimate. The videos feel less like traditional marketing and more like being given a VIP access to an exclusive event. Nissan has used Periscope to unveil new cars, such as the 2016 Maxima, to its customers via Twitter.

Periscope is free for download on iTunes and the Google Play store.

3. Meerkat

Meerkat is the main competitor to Periscope and offers a similar mobile app that allows users to share and watch live video streams. Users can start a stream at any time, or schedule one for later. All streams are public, and viewers can interact via a chat interface and send each other tweets and tokens of praise. Users must have the Twitter app on their device to use Meerkat, and can save their videos to their personal Meerkat library. Unlike Periscope, Meerkat has Facebook support.

The simplicity of the user experience for both streamers and viewers has made Meerkat very popular among users. According to this Salesforce infographic, Meerkat has around two million users, but has almost as many videos shared on Twitter as Periscope. It was wildly popular at SXSW, where views of streams from Austin reached more than 25,000 per day. Red Bull used Meerkat during its Red Bull Double Pipe Finals to broadcast a snowboarding competition.

Meerkat is free for both Apple and Android devices.

4. Livestream for Mobile

Livestream for Mobile is a live video streaming mobile app created by Livestream, a professional video platform. The mobile app allows users to browse all online videos on Livestream, as well as broadcast their own HD videos from their phone or GoPro Hero® camera. Users can share their live videos with friends and engage with others using a built-in chat feature.

While Livestream offers users the ability to broadcast their own videos, a large portion of their audience uses it to watch videos. Streaming sports events are particularly popular, as Livestream has partnerships with several TV networks and major sports leagues. It focuses on ‘events’ rather than ‘channels’, encouraging users to tune into what’s happening right now. Users can also favorite accounts and receive notifications for upcoming events. Livestream customers include Spotify, Tesla, TED, the NBA, and the World Economic Forum.

Livestream for Mobile is available for free on the Apple App Store and Google Play.

5. Ustream

UStream was one of the earliest video streaming apps available on the market, and was acquired by IBM in January of 2016. With the UStream app, users can broadcast live videos on their mobile device to any number of viewers. Users can also upload pre-recorded videos in their original quality to UStream, interact with others in a chat interface, and browse through channels to find other videos.

UStream has a mix of both professional and amateur users and the interface makes it very easy to broadcast videos or browse live channels. However, CNET says not to expect high-resolution video on the Android app. Many people use UStream to record podcasts, and companies like Tesla Motors are using it to announce exciting news like the new Model M.

UStream is free on iTunes and the Google Play store, but offers an upgrade to a Premium Membership for users looking for an ad-free experience.

6. Stringwire


NBC Universal recently acquired Stringwire, a live video streaming app that crowdsources emerging footage from breaking news scenes. Bystanders who see a breaking news story unfolding can record the event and share it with others.  Stringwire can also stream live video from GoPro Series 3 devices and drones, including the DJI Phantom 2 Vision+, the Parrot BeBop, and Skycontroller.

The interface of the app allows users to search for streams, save their own streams, and collaborate with others in group channels. Stringwire focuses heavily on crowdsourcing user-generated video content to provide a unique perspective of ongoing current events. NBC encourages their own staff on the ground to use the app to deliver breaking news.

While the app is free for both Apple and Android users, all users are essentially granting the rights to any video content hosted on Stringwire to NBC Universal. In other words, users may see their footage on MSNBC. NBC notes that the user will be given credit whenever possible, and producers can actually talk to users in the field to request specific footage.

With so many acquisitions and new players entering the video streaming market, it’s clear that creating video content is a hot trend. Our advice? Try out a few for yourself and see where your target audience spends their time.

OnSIP is a leading provider of real-time communications (RTC) services to over 48,000 businesses. OnSIP® Hosted VoIP customers enjoy the benefits of an on-demand phone system without the traditional high cost, burden, and inflexibility. We also offer a cloud platform and simple APIs for developers to rapidly and affordably build RTC applications of their own. To learn more, visit www.onsip.com.