What Does Periscope Mean For The Future Of Social Engagement?

Have you taken a look at Periscope yet?

You should have done by now. But, if somehow you’ve managed to miss the sudden rise of this brand new Twitter-owned social network, then allow me to first enlighten you as to exactly what it is and what it does.

What Is Periscope?

Put simply, Periscope is a live video streaming social network. Users of Periscope can make live recordings via their smartphones, and the videos are streamed live right across the network, which other users can watch and comment upon in real-time.

Released at the end of March 2015, it was an immediate success, gaining 1 million users in just its first 10 days of existence.

How Does It Differ From Other Video Networks?

Simply in the fact that it is live.

YouTube has of course been around for years, and we all know and love it. Brands use it to make promotional videos, celebrities use it for vlogs (and showing off), and ‘normal’ everyday people head over to the site to catch clips of what they’ve missed from sports events, news stories, or cute kittens doing cute kitten things.

Vine is the other big video sharing social network – also owned by Twitter, as it happens. 6 seconds is all you get with a Vine, and it’s certainly the most light-hearted platform of the bunch, with posts that come under the category of ‘Comedy’ almost invariably receiving the most traffic, likes and shares.

Importantly, neither of these platforms support ‘live’ streaming.

And that’s exactly where Periscope steps in.

The Impact Of Streaming Live

There’s something about watching live footage that gives viewers the feeling that they are closer, as it were, to the action that’s being filmed. Indeed, when we’re watching something unfold live, then we almost feel like we’re part of the action.

Take sports events, for instance. Wimbledon is in full swing, serve and volley at the moment. Andy Murray destroyed Robin Haase in Round two of the men’s singles tournament yesterday. Did you see it? If you did, you would have been cheering him on – even if you’re English – holding your breath at every serve, break point and match point. The relief when he hit home the winner would have flooded over you as much as anybody in the crowd down in Court One at tennis’s most famous grounds.

If you didn’t see it, then you can of course catch the replays on YouTube. But, you will know the outcome, and, well, although you will still be impressed by the form, athleticism and prowess of Britain’s number 1, it still will not hold the same excitement – even if you’re Scottish.

Live News

The same can be said for the televised news. There’s a reason the BBC, Sky, ITV, Channel 4, CNN, and all the rest send correspondents out to where the news is happening – even to dangerous war zones. The reporters are putting us, the viewers, right there in the action. As it’s happening. It decreases the detachment and increases the sense of engagement.

Put simply, in a world where we’re glued to television screens watching recordings after recordings of our favourite shows, live streaming makes the news real.

Periscope And The Quest For Realizing Brands

Ultimately, this sense of the veracious, the tangible, the human, the reality, is what Periscope is now offering marketers looking to promote their brands.

Live performances from musicians, behind the scenes looks at fashion retailers, live, bespoke interviews with your favourite sports stars – Periscope is changing the way people engage with video on social media.

This is enabled by the fact that users have the ability to message broadcasters in real-time. The broadcaster will be using his/her smartphone to make the recording, and the viewer can type in comments and questions, which the broadcaster will be able to see, read and answer if he/she so wishes.

This is proper, real-time, face-to-face engagement the likes of which has simply not been achievable before.

As marketers, we know that social media has given rise to the need to ‘humanize’ our businesses. We engage with our following across Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube and all the rest. But, the difference here is that comments are left on these various platforms and dealt with at a later date by the marketer.

The delay has not really been an issue – provided, of course, that you’re on the ball and don’t leave any of your followers hanging for more than, say, 24 hours.

But, with the advent of Periscope, the pressure is now on for questions and engagement to be conducted in real-time – and via video.

Does It Spell The End For ‘Traditional’ Social Media Marketing?

No. Of course not. Not yet anyway. By no means would I advise ditching all of your channels in place of Periscope alone.

But, there is something ground-breaking happening with Periscope. The live element is unique, attractive, and – above all else – immediate.

FAQs can now be delivered to a live audience, who can indeed ask these questions directly to the broadcaster. Tutorials can be given live.

The real question, I suppose, is what does the brevity of such content mean? Videos are streamed live, remain on the broadcaster’s account for 24 hours, and then disappear completely forever.

Clearly, this puts a direct halt to any Periscope video going ‘viral’ – almost as soon as the word’s out that something is worth watching, it’s disappeared again.

No, individual Periscope posts will not be able to achieve the reach of traditional social posts. Instead, what masters of Periscope will have to achieve is a ‘buzz’ about their ability to entertain a live, global audience. An audience that is going to be willing to tune in at set times, or simply drop everything that they’re doing when a new notification appears on their phone.

It will indeed become a new form of marketing. But, just how influential and successful it will become will only be revealed over a matter of time. For now, though, Periscope is still an essential tool that marketers should be experimenting with – and don’t worry if you make a mistake, the world will never be able to prove it anyway. So just have fun with the platform, give your followers something that they’ve never had before – a live experience that cannot be matched elsewhere.

What do you make of Periscope? What do you think it will mean for the future of social engagement? Let us know in the comments below.


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