• Periscope is a free live video streaming app, like an Instagram of live streaming, offering users the real time opportunity to see the world through the eyes of someone else.  To be honest, I haven’t yet jumped onto the Periscope bandwagon.  I’m doing what is generally referred to as ‘lurking’ by signing into the app and watching livecasts (or “scopes” as they’re called) from around the world, and observing how users interact and the way the platform responds.

    Periscope technology can be iffy, and though it is not yet perfect, my prediction is that Periscope is going to go mainstream, very soon. Both Periscope and another live streaming app called Meerkat appeared on the social media scene last spring. Meerkat didn’t really take off, but Twitter bought Periscope, which catapulted it to the forefront.

    The appeal of Periscope lies in its simplicity. All you really need is a Twitter account and the app downloaded to your Android or iOS device to start livecasting – that, and a comfort level with in-the-moment, unstructured engagement with viewers. Periscope sets a new bar for ease of use, and scopes are spontaneous, candid and lively. Setting up a profile is simple and your content streams directly to Twitter and Periscope followers and anyone searching the app worldwide.

    Early adopters are offering organic, unrehearsed clips that entertain and educate viewers. Periscope is highly interactive, so broadcasters must stay on their toes, taking note of comments as they scroll by and answering questions as part of the narration. Excellent multi-tasking skills are definitely required, and patience, as the new app refines its technology.

    Periscopes are fun to watch and if you love the content you are viewing you can tap your screen to generate on-screen ‘hearts’ in real time that tell the host you like what they’re doing. These are sort of like fast-flowing ‘likes’ that bubble up the screen as the ‘scope rolls. I think Periscope has plenty of potential uses for businesses and organizations wanting to build their brand and connect with stakeholders and customers.

    As consumers, we love a ‘backstage pass’. Periscope is an ideal tool to invite your followers on a behind-the-scenes tour of products and services. Live question and answer sessions can help showcase your expertise, and demonstrate your ability to communicate effectively on the spot. You can offer live how-to videos, tutorials, demonstrations, or focus groups.

    For personal use, Periscope’s biggest promise lies in watching a live personal story – tragic, comic, or mundane – unfold.  From watching your best friend poach eggs, to monitoring the results of a surgery, Periscope captures it moment-by-moment from a smartphone.

    The implications for news agencies, first responders and governments are huge as this new form of communication can bring us closer to the action than photos or video do.  The power of Periscope is its casual chat format. It offers timeliness, interactivity and a sense of intimacy, all of which are pretty much irresistible to people. If you’re not comfortable with an unplanned, unrehearsed approach to engaging, though, Periscope probably isn’t for you.

    Vicki McLeod is one of the Social Chicks, offering social media tips and training. Vicki is the host of Everyday Happiness: The Pajama Podcasts and is a business and personal coach and consultant. Find her at www.mainstreetcommunications.ca