New players pop up in social media all the time, and it’s occasionally difficult to find the time to properly evaluate them. Ello, for example, despite the fact it opened with a bang, is rarely discussed now, although it did receive enough funding for the founders to make it a little more feature-rich.

The latest new social tool on the block is Periscope, a live streaming video app which Twitter purchased for $120 million after just 11 months of development. It was released in March this year and allows users to stream live video in real time. Those viewing the stream can interact by leaving comments and sharing the video.

periscope1-1 A Guide to Periscope – Twitter’s New Live Streaming App

A similar app – Meerkat – was also released at the end of March and like Periscope, is designed for the Twitter feed. The developers of Meerkat must be relatively gutted that Periscope was purchased by the microblogging giant, as it’s sure to mean that it will be given precedence over other app video streams.

Periscope vs Meerkat

BGR report that after receiving funding worth $14 million, everyone had got a little excited about Meerkat – which saw the funding on a Thursday, the same time as Twitter decided to launch Periscope. By the Sunday, the latter had become an instant hit, immediately making it into the top 30 in the app store (which as BGR point out, is something of a rarity for social apps).

As Periscope’s star rose, sadly Meerkat’s bombed, with the app dropping down to number 523 in the download chart.

“The ugly truth that U.S. tech media has declined to mention even in passing is that Meerkat had never been a hit to begin with. All those breathless media reports about “the hot new app” and “the break-out app” were deeply misleading at best — and cynical legerdemain at worst,” said BGR.

The site goes on to say that the tech news community had vastly overestimated Meerkat’s appeal and whilst the app never reached any higher than number 140 in the download chart, that didn’t stop the numerous reports and blog posts that cited it as ‘the next big thing’ or everyone’s favourite, ‘the hottest new tech startup’.

“Meerkat’s “success” was the creation of a handful of West Coast tech bloggers who managed to lure major newspapers into covering a phenomenon that did not exist,” BGR went on to say.

And this is evident in the fact that not many people actually rated the app, despite the fact that it gathered enough media attention to presumably give it something of a boost. It seems, in fact, that the tech news community on the West Coast of the US were desperately attempting to make it the ‘next big thing’ despite a general lack of interest from the public.

Periscope blew the app out of the water immediately and so it seems that Meerkat is now doomed to failure.

How Useful is Periscope?

Right now? Not very, to be perfectly honest. As it’s so new, there are not many users to follow and engage with as yet. What functionality it does have is quite limited and it’s quite difficult to actually find content to engage with as the search function doesn’t appear to be great. There’s no help to be found by looking through categories yet either as it just doesn’t have them.

That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t head off to the app store and download it though. It’s Twitter owned and so there are bound to be some improvements made sometime in the near future. Just imagine, after all, if your brand was one of the first to use Instagram, or Snapchat – it’s likely that if it was you’d now enjoy a highly engaged and sizable following had you been using the apps properly from the beginning.

Tips for Getting Started

So how do you get started with Periscope? With many social tools you can usually see how other brands are using them and follow their lead. Many large brands have yet to get on Periscope and test it for marketing, but there are some earlier adopters. These are, according to Adweek:

  • Spotify – the music service posted a live “behind-the-scenes” stream with Irish folk singer Conor O’Brien.
  • Mountain Dew – released a stream called “stop by to say what’s up” (not 100% sure what this was about, and the videos are only available for replays for 24 hours.)
  • Red Bull – tested the app during Miami Music Week.
  • DKNY – allowed viewers to check out its ‘fashion closet’.

You can’t search in general perhaps, but you can see a list of streams by location, which is sure to be handy for local businesses in the future.

You can give your broadcasts a title, so consider using keywords in this and name them all with ‘clickable’ titles that attract viewers. You should, as with any social platform, also ensure that you maintain your brand’s personality on the app.

Best Time to Broadcast?

Again, as with many social platforms it’s difficult to know when people will want to watch your stream. Understand your audience thoroughly and this will be easier to work out. What times do your customers and followers like to engage throughout the day? Are they in the UK or based all over the world?

If you haven’t already, then you should come up with some buyer personas in order to inform your choices when it comes to timing and what content your followers might like to see.

You should also, of course, ensure that you make your streams available on Twitter. The app gives you the choice to share to the site via a link which includes the title of the broadcast, so do ensure it’s a good one.

Periscope undoubtedly has potential for marketers and since it’s so new, now is the time to get on it and start experimenting with broadcasts. By the time the rest of the world catches on, you should have a great resource with plenty of followers.