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A quick look at PERISCOPE – one of the new(ish) kids on the social media block

In a sentence or two…
“The closest thing to teleportation,” according to one of its founders. Stream live video from your smartphone or tablet. Followers can watch in real time or (thanks to the app’s automatic recording facility) up to 24 hours later “as live” (e.g. as it happened with no editing).

Good for…
Organisations with a strong  and, ideally, dynamic (that is, moving) visual element likely to capture an audience. So, for example, the Zoological Society of London uses Periscope to stream videos of scary spiders and cute creatures at London Zoo. And  BBC Radio’s Test Match Special has used it to go behind the scenes at Lords during the second Ashes test (about which the less said the better from an English perspective)!

Bad for…
Lifting the veil on things that really should stay covered like naked flesh and cocaine snorting (or so I’m reliably informed)!

Five ways to use Periscope…
  1. Take viewers behind the scenes and show them a bit of your organisation they haven’t seen before.
  2. Identify in-house experts and get them to do a series of short (5′ maximum) how to sessions.
  3. Harness the power of story-telling by asking your colleagues, customers or service users to tell their own personal stories of your organisation and how it’s helped/affected them.
  4. Do a series of interviews with people in your organisation making sure it’s not just with the usual suspects such as the chief executive or senior managers.
  5. Stream live events that your hosting so that those who can’t make it to the actual venue can share in what’s going on.
Dos and don’ts…
  • Don’t push your brand, product or service too hard.
  • Don’t be too formal.
  • Do be guided by your audience. Let them ask questions – they pop up on your screen as text during your broadcast – and respond accordingly. Make them feel it’s there show not yours.
  • Don’t give up too soon. It takes a while to build an audience.
  • Do invest in a tripod if you’re doing lots of talking head stuff. But don’t leave the camera/phone static for too long. And buy a microphone with a fluffy cover to reduce distracting wind noise if you’re streaming outdoors.
  • Do keep your streams short, sharp and to the point.  Your “shows” should be episodic and each one leave the audience wanting more.
  • Do share a link to your stream on Twitter to maximise your potential audience.
  • Do bear in mind that, even more than other social media, timing is going to be of the essence. Schedule a live stream while your target audience is fast asleep or hard at work and you’re not going to get much from it.
  • Don’t forget that Periscope deletes your video automatically after 24 hours and that if you want to keep it for posterity you must choose the option to save it to your camera roll.
  • Don’t worry if you stuff up your live broadcast (I made a career of it at the BBC). To err is human. And in any case Periscope allows you to delete the recording of your stream straight away if you’re really embarrassed by it.
  • Do bear in mind it is live and that while you might get away with swearing or other inappropriate behaviour in a way you wouldn’t on prime time television, your audience, however small, may not be impressed.
  • Do analyse the keys stats ((provided by Perisocope – number of live views number of record views etc) and be guided by them.
Like almost all newly-launched social media networks the early adopters tend to be young, tech-savvy Americans. Accurate user numbers are hard to establish but owners, Twitter (who were so impressed with Periscope’s potential they bought it before it launched in February 2015), claim a million people signed up in the first 10 days. But I wouldn’t be overly concerned about these demographic issues. What’s exciting is that you’ve got the chance to use Periscope to the benefit of your organisation now and help shape its and your future.

  • Meerkat – same principle but despite a head start on Periscope likely to fall behind without the clout of Twitter behind it.
  • Instagram and Vine – both allow users to record short videos to share with their followers but only after the event.
  • Skype – limits 25 people to group calls so more of a narrowcast than a broadcast.