Periscope, a new-ish social media platform recently acquired by Twitter, is really fun to use. It started making waves when people Periscoped the Mayweather-Pacquiao boxing match (bypassing the $100 pay-per-view fee), as well as scenes from the Baltimore riots.
Livestreaming is nothing new, but most of us, Yulu included, are still figuring out how to use Periscope and Meerkat. Our social media team has been getting excited over Periscope the past couple of weeks. We watched as Pope Francis arrived in Philly, narrated by a USA Today journalist, and talks at Deepak Chopra Centre in California.
There are a lot of things you don’t find out about Periscope until you take if for a spin. Luckily, it’s a fairly forgiving social media platform: your broadcasts stay on the platform for 24 hours, it’s up to you if you want to archive it on YouTube for longer, and you can always re-broadcast and attract a new following.
Yulu piloted Periscope in two completely different settings: a design conference and a David Suzuki keynote on the environment and economy. Here’s what we learned in our first two broadcasts.
Plan for a short stream – no longer than half an hour
Periscope lends itself to short streams, about half an hour or so. Definitely not for a three-hour event, unless you have explicit permission for your exact setup from the venue’s security, your phone is plugged into the wall and you have your full five bars of WiFi.
While we were allowed to film at the event, you weren’t allowed to put anything on the balcony, where we had set up the camera’s “tripod” (a water bottle that supported the phone upright). We switched to holding the phone up, which got fairly tiring. However, we had a good number of viewers on the stream, so we wanted to keep them happy.
After threatening for a few minutes during the beginning of the event, the spotty WiFi finally cut off our broadcast. And it’s just as well, because the phone we were using had gone from 100% to 20% battery life in an hour. We wouldn’t have made it through the entire event.
Use descriptive, conversational names for your broadcast
When we Periscoped at IDSWest to support Kabuni’s app release, Romila and Esther filmed their booth’s activation. We titled it “Holographic tech at IDSWest!” hoping the catchiness would get more bites. We did get a few viewers throughout our half an hour.
Kabuni had a Holus display at their booth, as well as Natalie Langston filming a promotional video for Kabuni. When we did a later walkthrough of the conference after touching base at the booth, Romila and Esther switched over to Yulu PR’s account and took viewers through one of Canada’s largest design showcases – “Touring IDSWest interior design conference” That one did a little better and we had more engaged viewers that sent over compliments and questions.
Because your broadcast name is also tweeted wholesale and pushed to your Twitter timeline, it’s better to be descriptive with keywords rather than coming up with something artistic or cool — think the style of AirBnB listings or reddit threads.
Read your settings carefully
Once you start your broadcast, you can’t change the settings mid-way through. So when you’re naming your broadcast, take note of the three icons underneath it as they’re not set up in the most intuitive way.
Tapping on the first icon shares the location of your stream more precisely. The second one, if turned on (icon is white), limits the people who can chat with you live. If turned off (icon is grey), then everyone can send in their questions.
We watched a stream of three friends drinking and taking questions from their audience for truth or dare. Even though they had 20 live viewers at the time, they’d forgotten to set their broadcast to take questions from everyone, not just their followers, and it was a frustrating few minutes (for them and us) wondering why no one was asking anything.
“We can’t play truth or dare if you don’t ask anything, guys! This isn’t fun,” one of them said, face right up in the camera. Yeah, it wasn’t fun, so they lost our eyeballs.
Conclsion: there is demand
For someone who doesn’t watch livestreams, it’s very difficult to imagine why anyone else would. The video and audio quality is bad, you don’t always get entertained, you’re not necessarily watching someone you know and you’re subject to the mistakes of someone learning as they go.
Yet, there seems to be something about that shared experience of “It’s happening for all of us right now” that appeals to people. There’s huge demand for livestreaming. When we announced we would be streaming Rethinking Economics on its Facebook event and Twitter, we had 95 people tune in over the course of an hour.
While we won’t be officially offering Periscope services, we love learning how to wield new social media tools and new ways of sharing stories. How have you used Periscope? Do you have a livestream coming up soon? Let us know if we should tune in and get in touch with our social media team: firstname.lastname@example.org.