Grafik Blog For Whom The Phone Streams Periscope Image

For Whom the Phone Streams

If a picture is worth a thousand words, is a video worth a million? Does that mean live streaming is even more valuable?

With all the video apps available, it’s difficult to tell which ones are worth the time (and megabytes of storage) to keep in your arsenal. Now with live streaming disrupting the way we record and watch videos on our phones, it’s become even more complicated. After playing around with the front-running livestream app, Periscope, it’s obvious that it has many possible uses ranging from the innovative to the idiotic. Can it be incorporated into most social media plans? Should it?

Periscope Pros:

  • Immediate audience feedback and interaction.
    • It’s pretty cool to see conversations stretch across continents in real time. It almost feels like you’re actually there. (Almost.)
  • Access to live news/events that would otherwise be filtered through a media outlet.
    • If you want a true “as it happens” experience, why wait for a news station to edit the footage and add their bias?
  • Feels exclusive since it’s live.
    • If you’re already the type of person who feels left out when everyone has finished a Netflix series and you’re still on episode 3, you might find yourself logging on to Periscope just to make sure you don’t miss anything cool.
  • Portable and low-key.
    • You don’t need special speakers or cameras. You don’t need to be at a desktop. If you have an iPhone, you can be a part of all the refrigerator memes and tropical sunrises your heart desires.
  • Wide variety of content.
    • Much like Youtube, pretty much anything you can think of can have a home on Periscope, even if your life is average and dull. There’s no time limit to a stream so you can just keep going until things get interesting. I watched a group of friends hike through a North Carolina forest, and that was kind of entertaining (I guess). There are also a lot of radio and TV personalities streaming on a frequent basis. These are often streamed in a one-on-one setting or in a small environment. This is where Periscope starts to really shine.

Periscope Cons:

  • Difficult to find content worth watching.
    • Searching by tags, browsing by related content, suggested media based on viewing habits—all features we have come to expect in an app with such immense content generation potential—is not an option. You can only find people by searching for their Twitter name or if you already follow them on Twitter. And the home feed of “Global” streams…? Not the easiest to use.
  • Mobile/iPhone only (for now).
    • Videos are streaming from phones with itty-bitty speakers, itty-bitty cameras, and spotty wi-fi. And it is obvious. Streaming a large event is almost out of the question since you won’t be able to hear anything. You also run the risk of getting sea-sick if the streamer can’t hold their phone still. Additionally, there is no desktop version and Android is not yet supported.
  • Questionable use of eggplant emoji.
    • The possibility for creepy content and illegal usage is a concern, but this has always been true of video sharing on the internet (Anyone remember Chatroulette?). However, these concerns are amplified by the unstoppable nature of live broadcasting. Reporting, blocking, or removing video/comments is difficult or not an option (although you can block users). I can only tolerate accidentally clicking on obscene material so many times before I abandon an app.

Aside from these issues, Periscope is addicting. Being John Malkovich is now a reality and the possibilities are vast. It is worth noting that if Periscope isn’t the right fit for your social media plan, Instagram is a tried-and-true video sharing platform that can be used for a lot of different video content. Most video content can be retrofitted for sharing via Instagram as long as the 15-second limit is kept in mind.

Possible brand uses for Periscope:

  • Q&A’s with industry experts
  • Citizen journalism
  • Behind the scenes tours
  • Planned events
  • Exclusive broadcasts for paying customers, if this feature is added
  • Product unveiling/unboxing/live review
  • Bragging (lf you are sipping coconut water under a palm tree on a white sand beach, you should stream it so the rest of us can pretend to have your life)

If you’re itching to dive head-first into this live stream trend, then it’s time to revisit my earlier question: Can/should Periscope be incorporated into most social media plans? Don’t forget, it’s easy to start an account on every social app/platform in an attempt to claim as much brand space as possible. But without purpose and a strategy, this degrades the quality. It looks worse for a brand to have many poorly maintained accounts than to have one or two robust channels. Weigh the pros and cons, figure out a plan, and then decide if Periscope is the right fit. To quote Ron Swanson, “never half ass two things; whole ass one thing.” And then make sure to stream it.

Rachel Semenov, Former Senior Graphic Designer at Grafik
Rachel Semenov

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