Taking a peek through the “Periscope”

“Up Periscope!” That’s the command a submarine captain would give to send up the viewing device that allowed his submerged vessel to scan the horizon above the water for potential threats—and targets.

Periscope is also the name of one of the hottest new apps, in this case, to allow fellow subscribers to get a livestream of your smart phone’s video and audio feed. Periscope lets your iPhone broadcast live video to the world. When you go live, your followers are instantly notified and they can then can join the live video stream on their smart phones, tablets, mobile devices and even desktops, comment in real time and send you “hearts” which are sort of the equivalent of the Facebook “like.” The more hearts you get, the higher they flutter on the screen (also the higher the engagement). So it has a game element, too. It’s a lot easier than trying to carry a remote TV satellite truck in your pocket, too.

Let’s take a look at some of the features besides just going “live” anywhere you have a cellular or wireless signal.

REPLAY: When your Periscope broadcast is over, you can make it available for replay so viewers can watch later. Viewers can replay your broadcast with comments and hearts to relive the full experience. The archive video disappears after 24 hours, but you can also delete your video at any time.

PRIVACY FEATURE: If you want to make your broadcast more exclusive and only open it  to specific people,  you can press the lock icon before going live and choose who you want to invite to your broadcast.

PROMOTION ON TWITTER: You can choose to share your Periscope broadcasts on Twitter by tapping the famous bluebird icon before you start broadcasting. When you go live, you’ll tweet a link so that your Twitter followers can watch on the web (or in the app)

MANAGE NOTIFICATIONS: Periscope will suggest people for you to follow based on your Twitter network. You can always follow new people, or unfollow them if you don’t want to be notified when they go live. You can also adjust notification preferences in Periscope Settings (in Profile)

HEARTS: Periscope keeps track of how many hearts you get from your viewers. The more hearts, the higher you get in the “Most Loved” list. That’s the gamification part I like.

I have had several clients who have asked me about this and are already thinking this will revolutionize webcasting and/or social media. One thing I can say, it’s definitely good for Twitter’s stock value, that’s for sure, if not only for investor sentiment.

Certainly the idea of having live video from an event is exciting. All the major professional sports are already expressing concern. What if users “Periscope” entire games? Already people have posted you can watch this MLB game on Periscope if you don’t have Time Warner Cable. On the plus side, Periscope promotes sports to younger viewers who may not have cable or satellite TV. But the downside is obvious, if entire games are streamed, Periscope suddenly competes with TV networks like ESPN.  And what’s to stop someone from providing a free broadcast of “Game of Thrones” and bypassing any payment to HBO?

But the idea of having live coverage from a breaking news event, or on the Presidential campaign trail or concerts (another copyright infringement possibility) is very interesting. This would give a whole new dimension to the concept of a live CNN iReport, although the hearts popping up on the screen might be annoying to viewers. Skype can do the same thing, but it’s the back end and the ease of functionality that makes Periscope unique. If more traditional media firms build out their presence on Periscope, it can increase engagement. Kevin O’Leary did a Periscope broadcast that teased an upcoming appearance on CNBC effectively. Periscope should expand the reach of news reporters to get the content out quickly. It will also turn everyday people into reporters.

Vine has been an interesting development, but few communicators have moved it much past the novelty phase. (Check out what Cleveland Clinic and the American Red Cross have been doing on Vine—it shows the potential of the medium).  Twitter is an unabashed communications success, and 140 characters has turned out to be a great way to share multimedia content and the hashtag functionality. Twitter is surprisingly versatile in terms of polls, messaging and aggregating content in real time. But Vine—six seconds of loopable video—while a clever concept has yet to prove any major commercial or communications value, with a few major exceptions. It is fun, but the proof of concept isn’t there yet and may never be.

Periscope is like Snapchat in that it allows users to view the daily lives of their friends but Periscope is more public than Snapchat is, and I think has more universal appeal to different demographics.

The great thing about live video is that it tends to engage the viewer longer than an edited video. Interacting and engaging with the live event as it happens also extends the time spent. Just from my own usage of the app, I have noticed that content creators tend to extend their broadcasts when new viewers join, driving the level of engagement and time spent on Periscope. It can be addicting. Periscope doesn’t have any ads on the service yet, but the potential is already there.

The fact that Periscope will work on a Desktop is intriguing, because that gives it more workplace utility and from the Desktop you get to networks to traditional livestreaming platforms like Ustream, YouTube and beyond.

In conclusion, Periscope certainly has the potential to improve Twitter’s metrics, if nothing else. It’s a very interesting emerging platform and one to certainly follow closely. Watch this space–as I see marketers and communicators innovate with Periscope, I’ll keep you posted.

Questions, comments, I’d love to hear from you.