If your Twitter feed is anything like mine, you will have seen a lot of articles about new streaming video apps in the last couple of weeks. Meerkat was first out of the blocks but in the last week it has been overshadowed by Twitter’s new $100 million purchase Periscope.

After reading about Meerkat, I wasn’t even inspired enough to download it for one simple reason: once streams are finished, you can never see them again. That may appeal to the SnapChat generation but it didn’t appeal to me. As soon as I heard that Periscope’s streams could be saved, I downloaded it straight away.

How Periscope works

When you open the app up, a list of live video streams appear which you can tap on to watch. While viewing, you can ask questions, make comments and if you like the stream, you can show your appreciation by tapping the screen as many times as you like to send a flurry of hearts floating up the screen.

You can read more about the app in Periscope basics.

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What I’ve seen on Periscope so far

Here are some of the streams I watched so far:

  • A guy having a BBQ on his balcony in Hong Kong.
  • A Mariah Carey lookalike chatting on camera.
  • Brisbane radio DJ Spencer Howson broadcasting the last few minutes of a local soccer game.
  • Lots of people playing with their pets.
  • Several streams from Tourism Australia panning around Sydney Harbour including from a ferry leaving Circular Quay (below).

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The best two Periscope video streams I’ve seen so far were from former England cricket captain Micheal Vaughan.

Periscope masterclass #1: Micheal Vaughan chats with Aggers

Barely half an hour after Australia had lifted the cricket World Cup for the fifth time, I had a notification that MV was broadcasting live on Periscope. I watched with dozens of other people as Vaughan and veteran commentator Aggers strolled out of the MCG and into Melbourne’s Fitzroy Gardens, chatting about the world cup final, the tournament and the upcoming 2015 Ashes – with frequent interjections to ask viewers what a possum looked like.

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Several people commented that this was the best thing they’d watched on Periscope. It was summed up perfectly by this comment: “It’s like two mates having a chat” which is exactly what it was.

Periscope masterclass 2: Live Q&A from Dubai Airport

On Tuesday afternoon Michael Vaughan did a quickfire live Q&A from Dubai Airport. This was another fantastic use of Periscope, with people from all over the world throwing questions at him in rapid succession. I tapped out 7 or 8 questions to MV, here are the ones that got answered:

  • David Cameron or Ed Milliband? David Cameron
  • Ever been to (my wife’s home town) Wolverhampton? Yes, didn’t like it.
  • Gabba or the MCG? MCG
  • Indian or Chinese? Indian, Chicken Bhuna with chapatis is his fave.
  • Do you like Vegemite? Yes – and Marmite.

(Sadly he never gave an opinion on what he thought about Freddy Flintoff recently winning the Australian version of I’m a celebrity, get me out of here!)

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Above: Michael Vaughan at Dubai Airport: clearly impressed with my hard-hitting questions.

Lessons I’ve learnt using Periscope

I’ve done seven Periscope live streams so far and have amassed 623 hearts! Here are some tips:

  • You can use your regular iPhone camera or the front-facing camera: tap to toggle.
  • If it’s not interesting, people will quickly leave.
  • Keep watching the screen for questions and comments.
  • You can do a private broadcast and only invite your followers to view.
  • If people like what you’re doing, the hearts will flow. Somehow last night I accumulated over 500 hearts showing off my Polaroid camera collection.
  • What I like about Periscope is that you can set it up to automatically upload the stream – questions, hearts and all – to your account after you finish the broadcast.
  • One caveat: if your Periscope stream is uploading, don’t enter a wifi dead spot in your house like I did last night. It stops uploading.  Yes the video saves to your camera roll, but without all of the questions and hearts.
  • You can set it up to automatically tweet when you’re doing a broadcast.
  • You can either enable or disable location services.

How government can use Periscope

In my blog from last year Super subs: who’s in your social media reserve team? you can read about the process I went through looking at how we could use another livestreaming video app, Bambuser. I’m now at the very early stages of how we could possible use Periscope at work. Here are a few thoughts:

  • Live chats with politicians, visiting authors, local artists, anyone.
  • Live question and answer sessions: with your environmental expert / local historian / librarian.
  • Disaster management: live updates on location with questions and answers from the viewers.
  • It’s an easy way to livestream press conferences or events.
  • Event teaser: we usually use a photo on social media to promote an even the same day, but we could use live video instead.
  • Behind the scenes of an event, exhibition, or even your workplace.

Check out Andrew Coulson’s excellent blog 5 ways to use Periscope/Meerkat for community engagement.

Periscope: the good

  • It’s fun.
  • It’s addictive.
  • The notification sound is cool.
  • A good stream is genuinely fascinating.

Here’s me showing off a Polaroid last night (10 year old expired film in case you’re wondering).


Periscope: the bad

  • Streams don’t always play.
  • Just like Twitter and other forms of social, there’s a lot of crap on there.
  • People are obsessed with seeing in your fridge. What’s up with that?
  • Improvements need to be made to the app. For example, if you accidentally swipe out of a good stream, it’s almost impossible to find it again unless you already follow that person.
  • At present there’s no way to find streams near your location.
  • Periscope is owned by Twitter. Will it ever embed nicely on Facebook?
  • Just like live TV, there’s a degree of risk: if someone lets loose with an F bomb or something unexpected happens, how will you handle it?
  • Unless you leverage your followers on Twitter, there aren’t that many people using it… yet.
  • It’s only available on iOS at present.

Have you tried Periscope? What did you think? Follow me @mattbrisvegas

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