What do you think of when you hear the word “periscope?” To prepare for this column, I asked that question of everyone in my office and all my friends. If you’re like most of them, you think of a curved tube with one end in a submarine and the other just above the surface of the water. There is possibly a cartoon eye blinking comically on the surface end … or maybe I need to quit watching Nick Jr. with the kids.
Now, before you read anymore, Google it. It took me three pages to find a link to this type of periscope. Social live video streaming is what’s happening. Hop on board and batten down the hatches.
Dive! Dive! Dive!
Periscope is the latest app to make waves in the ever-changing world of social media. It lets you live stream from your smartphone to just about anyone and anywhere in the world. Conversely, it lets you experience what’s happening anywhere in the world at that exact moment.
The idea came from co-founder Kayvon Beykpour as he prepared for a trip to Istanbul, when protests broke out in Taksim Square very close to his hotel. All of the news stories and social media posts seemed to take the most sensational and dramatic angle possible. None gave him a good idea of what was actually going on near his hotel or whether he was safe. With thousands of smartphones in the area, why couldn’t he get a more accurate and real-time view of the situation?
With Periscope, you can search “broadcasts” by location or specific user or be notified when someone you follow is broadcasting. When hosting a broadcast, you can either post it as public for anyone (including your Twitter followers) or private (invite only). Viewers can comment or give “hearts” in real time to show appreciation. This real-time interaction can shape the broadcast the same way a live audience can shape a stage performance.
Other blips on the sonar
In March, Twitter purchased Periscope, providing 100 million reasons why it will poke its head higher than Meerkat (Periscope’s nearest competitor), at least for now. The other gigantic benefit from Twitter’s $100 million plunge is that if you’re an active Twitter user, you already have a Periscope viewer base.
The fear of “yet another app, yet another login” is a huge hurdle for adoption by the general public. Because of this, plus a few other features that Periscope provides, my money is on Periscope’s success.
So, I’ll refer to Periscope as if it’s the one and only clear favorite, although many concepts will translate to competing platforms. We’ll see who wins the social streaming war. If you think I’m wrong (it has happened before), feel free to leave a comment on my MySpace page.
Why Periscope should be in your sights
Live streaming content isn’t new. Compared to alternatives like YouTube, Google Hangouts On Air or even Snapchat, Periscope gives a realness and immediacy that cannot be faked or scripted. Each of those is a form of social media, but Periscope follows a more Twitter-like sharing format that I believe will accelerate its adoption.
At its best, it’s the fly on the wall … any wall in the world. At its worst, it’s a never-ending video selfie.
It also raises significant concerns about piracy and access to restricted content. One of the first cases was the boxing match between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao. How much Periscope cut into the $400 million pay-per-view market is a drop in the ocean, but it was the first time viewers could legitimately choose between shelling out $90 to a cable supplier or tuning into a ringside view via Periscope.
Surfacing in events
Whether you use Periscope, Meerkat, both or something else really cool that I haven’t heard of, the objective is to create quality content that promotes and enhances your event. In this emerging form of media, some of the most intriguing content has been behind-the-scenes footage. Jimmy Fallon uses Meerkat to broadcast rehearsals and other glimpses into the making of “The Tonight Show.” Event planners could broadcast pre-event walk-throughs and meet-and-greets with speakers.
Imagine dozens of attendee broadcasters buzzing during the event like the aforementioned flies on walls. Viewers can bounce from broadcast to broadcast soaking in the energy of the room. Organizers can offer additional behind-the-scenes views of the kitchen before meals or room sets before general sessions.
The idea is not to replace being there in person or even a well-produced hybrid meeting. It’s to try to enhance the attendee experience while creating an “I-wish-I-were-there” feeling in those who couldn’t attend in person.
The broadcasts don’t have to end with the event. Since a Periscope session is so simple to launch, speakers could very easily continue the session with a Q&A broadcast a few days after the event: “All right folks, time is up, so we’ve got to wrap this session. Why don’t you try these tips at the office Monday, and I’ll be on Periscope at 4 that afternoon for a brief follow-up.” Talk about being able to really comprehend and apply education.
What do you think of Periscope’s potential? Have you used it or Meerkat? Please share your thoughts and concerns in the comment space below.