There seems to have been quite a lot of noise about live video streaming services over the last week or so, since Twitter-owned Periscope launched, inviting us to “Explore the world through someone else’s eyes”.
Video streaming has been hitting the headlines since Meerkat was the talk of this year’s SXSW. I have to confess this totally passed me by, but as a Twitter user, I found out about the launch of Periscope so decided to have a look and see what it was all about.
If you’ve not had chance to download and have a play yet, here are some screen grabs from the iOS app (not available on android at time of writing). I’ve chosen an example from the folks at Mashable to help demonstrate the app’s potential for marketing and engagement.
You can tell it’s in a very early stage of experimentation by many users, with ‘test’ or ‘view from [location]’ type titles of the streams, but I’ve already watched useful broadcasts from Guardian Tech and Mashable that help showcase its potential. Viewers of these live broadcasts can make comments or show their ‘love’ by tapping the screen and generating a heart which floats up the screen along with those of other viewers.
It’s clearly very early days, and I’d expect to see lots more updates over the coming weeks, but here’s my first take on the pros and cons that I can see a week or so in, along with a glimpse into what the future may hold…
Even at this early stage, I can see some pretty significant upsides to this platform, including
- Speed to market: being able to broadcast and view live video streams pretty much ‘on demand’ will be a huge benefit to organisations and brands that want to get a live video in front of their audience fast
- Authenticity: What you see is what you get…in real-time. No editing or polishing, broadcasters respond in real-time to the comments
- Accessibility: Without the need to invest in any expensive kit above a decent iPhone, even the smallest of business can use the platform to engage with their target audience using the medium of video
For the time being, though, these are offset by some pretty significant cons.
- Search: At the moment, it seems that you can search for users but not content. This seems a pretty fundamental flaw for me, as discovery of new users to follow will be driven by [for me, anyway] by an interest in certain types of content, language or even location. The home screen of the app is too random at present – a list that is crying out to be filtered into a curated list of stuff I actually might find interesting, that I can choose.
- Bandwidth: On more than one occasion, on separate streams, I’ve seen ‘broadcast too full’ with as few as 157 [see below] live viewers of a stream. Again, I’d hope that this would be something that gets improved over time as more people adopt the platform.
I’m left with no doubt that the ability to video stream in real time has lots of exciting possibilities but, as with all forms of social media, the starting point has to be in how best to deliver benefits for the audience. One good example I’ve seen is from @pauljholden, a Comic Artist on Judge Dredd who I’ve seen broadcast a couple of times, answering questions whilst you can see him at work.
As with any form of social media channel, I’d always recommend to clients that they should listen, observe and learn about any platform before diving in. The focus on live video streaming (of any flavour) will only gather pace over the coming weeks and months as brands begin to experiment and find the use case best suited to their audience.
I’ll return to this in a later post, but in the meantime I’d love to hear from anyone who is thinking of incorporating Periscope (or Meerkat) into their communications plans. Where do you see the opportunities and potential pitfalls?