Periscope to build an audience

You probably heard about Meerkat and Periscope. Or about Facebook's similar initiative launched recently, reserved, however, to celebrities through its application Facebook Mentions.

If you haven't, let me give you the 2-line pitch: they are applications that allow you to live stream an event, using your phone's camera, to your followers. The three of them also embed a live commenting feature so watchers can engage with you during the show.

In the name of constant experimenting, I started to play with Meerkat when it was released. My first attempt was to install my phone on a gorilla tripod and live stream my dog sleeping and snoring. Nothing crazy interesting, but I saw right away the potential of this app, and how this could become super fun in the context of a live event like a concert or a hockey game.

Since then, I've made a bunch of other apparitions there.

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My friend, Johannes from 46elks, and I have taken the habit of meeting each other for an early coffee to discuss our respective businesses.

On the five minutes walk that separates the train station from the 46elks offices, I usually pull out my phone and live stream the surroundings as I'm babbling about Sweden or whatever topic that crosses my mind.

This morning, as I was walking to meet with Johannes, I did exactly the usual. I plugged my headphones and launched the Meerkat app. But, nothing happened. Two people dropped by but didn't even stay. I guess it wasn't the best time for my followers. Anyway, I decided to give Periscope a shot and see if I could get more viewers on it. Almost right after I went live, people were cheerfully interacting, telling where they were from, and such.

Besides the ludic aspect of it, I decided it was worth some attention and a proper experimentation. So, when Johannes opened the door, I shared my excitement about it and offered him to join me for a quick live show. My goals were to better understand the kind of audience using the app (are they already following me on Twitter? Who are they? Where are they from? What do they do for a living?) and see if one could use it to grow their audience, create new relationships, collect valuable feedback or information, and spread the word about their product.

For the next 15 or 20 minutes (I haven't actually checked the duration) we engaged in chitchat, with people joining us and taking the time to comment or ask questions.

A lot of people joined and left. The questions were showing up and disappearing pretty fast, especially for someone untrained to such live exercise. I didn't recognize names of my followers on twitter.

That's a counter-intuitive finding as Periscope broadcasts and announces on your Twitter feed to let your followers know that you're going live.

I was interested in seeing if there were some entrepreneurs and developers in the (little) crowd watching us, and... There were!

At the end of the show, I started to openly tell the people who were engaging with us to follow and message me on Twitter about their work. Johnny from Kansas City did, for instance. He's a very talented photographer; check out his work here.

Where do we go from here

The first part of this experiment is definitely positive. I want to push it forward and see how Periscope or Meerkat can be used to reach more people. I really enjoyed the interactivity made possible by the live chat.

Soon, I'll try to do a live Q&A about entrepreneurship, where we'll talk about what you are currently building, the problems you are facing, and how you are winning (or will be!) in the end.

If you want to try and do a marketing action on one of these live streaming apps, just remember:

  • Behave in a way that respects the audience and that which matches the good practice of the medium
  • Don't use it to force the discussion about your product or service. Instead, create great value upfront and use it as a gateway to your business.

Have you already tried these apps?

If you want to talk about your strategy on these new media, get in touch on twitter: @gregoiregilbert