Up Periscope! Set your sights on live-streaming

Three weeks ago I wrote a post raving about Meerkat, a new live-streaming app that piggybacked on Twitter.

Mere hours after I published that post, Twitter swiftly moved to restrict Meerkat’s access to its social graph — doing whatever it could to cripple Meerkat’s growth in anticipation of the release of Twitter’s own live-streaming app Periscope.

Well … Periscope has arrived. And it’s pretty awesome!

Turns out … all that raving in my Meerkat post wasn’t really about Meerkat per se, but rather about the wonderfulness of live-streaming. Periscope provides all the same live-streaming goodness, with some bonus features (and some differences).

Before we get into the differences between Periscope and Meerkat, let me recap the reasons you should be live-streaming (regardless of which app you use).

3 reasons you should check out live-streaming …

1. It’s candid. The spontaneity and fleeting nature of disappearing streams breaks down barriers to other forms of video communication. Because it won’t last forever and because it can’t be edited, there’s no pressure to get camera angles, looks, and transitions exactly right. It’s just a momentary glimpse into a situation or a one-time conversation with people in the Twitterverse.

2. It’s creative. The potential for creative communication is endless. There are a gazillion ways to use live-streaming to build your personal brand, enhance your experiences, and connect with others. Users of both Meerkat and Periscope have live-streamed concerts, press conferences, rides in airplanes and on motorcycles, interviews with celebrities, walks past national monuments and in national parks, as well as simple conversations with friends over barbecue. Anywhere a smartphone can go, a live-stream can follow.

3. It’s human. Live-streaming allows people to share (in real time and without editing) places, things, and experiences others might not ever see otherwise. And like actual humans, live-streaming is weird and fun. I’m a fan of Twitter because it allows for genuine connections with people around the world. Live-streaming takes that one step further and allows genuine real-time experiences to be collectively witnessed and globally shared. The more exposure we have to different people, different places, different sights, different sounds, the better we understand the human condition in all its diversity and similarity.

How to Periscope

Both Periscope and Meerkat allow you to enjoy the wonders of live-streaming in slightly different ways. Since I’ve already written about how to Meerkat, let’s look at how to Periscope. It’s pretty easy.

After you set up your Periscope account, this is what you’ll see when you launch the app.

You start off in Watch mode. The large block images are live-streams by other Periscope users.

If you scroll further down, you’ll see text descriptions of additional live streams followed by streams that have been recorded previously.

Unlike Meerkat, Periscope allows viewers access to streams for 24 hours after they air. That means your viewers won’t be frustrated by clicking on a link seconds after you’ve gone off air. For the next 24 hours they’ll still be able to see what you streamed. (If you don’t want people to access the stream once you’re finished with it, simply cancel the upload and/or delete the replay).

At the bottom of the screen are three icons. The television icon takes you to Watch mode (the mode this screen is already in). The second icon (which I assume is a periscope) takes you to the live-streaming mode. The third icon takes you to people you’re already following on Twitter along with a search function to find other Persicope users.

When you want to live-stream, touch the second icon (the periscope?). Here’s what you’ll see …

The main image is whatever you camera is seeing. (I pointed my camera at a copy of my book The Manager’s Guide to Presentations.)

The prompt What are you seeing now?allows you to type in the topic of your live-stream. This will be the title people see when browsing in Periscope and on Twitter (if you choose to notify people of your broadcast via tweet).

Above the “Start Broadcast” button, are three icons. They’re a little hard to see in this photo.

The first icon is an arrow. This allows you to turn location notification on or off. This is especially important in Periscope because it uses GPS to show your location. If you’re Periscoping while walking or driving with the location tracker ON, anyone watching you (or your replay) will be able to see your exact route. If you’re concerned with safety, consider turning location tracking OFF before you broadcast.

The second icon is a lock. This allows you to make the stream private, open only to those you invite. Unlike Periscope, Meerkat has no private streaming feature at this time.

The last icon is the Twitter bird. This allows you to turn Twitter notification on or off. If you don’t want you Twitter followers notified that you’re going on-air, just turn Twitter notification OFF. Meerkat, on the other hand, automatically tweets every time you broadcast.

Other differences between Periscope and Meerkat

Aside from the fact that Periscope retains streams for 24 hours after they air, perhaps the biggest difference between the two is the way comments from viewers are handled. With Meerkat, every comment by a viewer becomes a tweet directed at the broadcaster. This means that comments are very public, but it also means that broadcasters can follow up with commenters after a broadcast. Periscope makes it a bit harder to catch and respond to all comments during a broadcast, but viewers seem to be more willing to comment since every comment isn’t a tweet. (This also means you’ll encounter more trolls on Periscope than on Meerkat. Of course, more people are using Periscope than Meerkat, so that leads to more trolls as well.)

Another difference is the inability to schedule a broadcast on Periscope. Meerkat allows you to schedule a broadcast in advance, sends out a tweet notifying people when you’ll be on-air, and displays your broadcast in an “Upcoming” section. It’s a nice feature that may make more people tune-in to your broadcast. With Periscope, you’ll have to send your own tweet to notify potential viewers about when you plan to be on.

There are other differences as well, but these were the ones that most captured my attention. What differences have you noticed?

Set your sights on live-streaming!

Now that you know more about Meerkat and Periscope, give them both a try. Analysts are predicting Periscope will be the winner in the live-streaming competition, but they both have features that are worth exploring.

And leave a comment to let me know your impressions of live-streaming. :)

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