When it comes to coronating Meerkat or Periscope as the future of mobile streaming apps, the jury’s still out. Both broadcast live video accessed via Twitter. Viewers can comment, there’s a People tab, Leaderboard, saved streams, scheduled broadcasts, sending hearts…

Fortunately, as marketers, we’re not invested in who grabs the crown. Our job is to anticipate the potential of a new media model, and on this front, the case is clear: brands should prepare to capitalize on live streaming.

Set aside the features debate. Set aside access and social media integration. Both models are looking to gain primacy because of the many unknowns; in other words, the opportunities for cultural influence are still limitless.

The digital age has been marked by doubt and daring. In the 1990s, major companies debated buying their domain name. Was it worth having a website? Who would go to it? Why would they go? The answer became clear. “They” – users – went because it put them in charge. They picked a destination. Searched for information. With the rise of social media, they pushed for transparency and demanded real-time accountability. Ultimately, they became master of their own channels, and brands had to engage or drop out of the conversation.

Now, with Meerkat and/or Periscope, personal channels can do more than expound, repurpose or redirect, they can actually launch a live video stream to anyone, anywhere in the world who wants to tap into the feed. Tahrir Square times 1,000.

Where does this leave marketers? How about, “empowered.” Brand advocates have more power than ever to spread your message. In its infancy, Meerkaters are streaming what’s inside their fridge – and followers are tuning in. Because it’s live. It’s real. It just might surprise.

What would a live peek inside your brand look like?

We live in a time of communal brand ownership beyond the strategic sway of tv and radio spots, billboards and press releases. The next step is to invite consumers to turn on their cameras to capture the brand promise for all of their fans to see.

This could mean celebrity tie-ins, live events, a staged media exhibit, a digital stunt. Maybe it goes meta as viewers watch fans take in your traditional media and broadcast the experience back out. Think Twitch for sneakers, beer and movie trailers.

What Meerkat and Periscope really mean is surrendering control and trusting in your brand identity. If this new “found footage” brand experience rings true, the bond with your consumers is strengthened and embraced like never before.

Live streaming apps raise a host of questions. The answers will take shape with or without us. If our digital age has taught marketers anything, it is dare to empower your audience.