New tools have come into the market that make it easy for anyone to be a mobile broadcaster. Now anyone can “show” in real-time, not just “tell.” This changes the landscape for broadcasting and social media engagement and also opens up new opportunities and threats for all types of businesses.
The Meerkat app was all the buzz at SXSW. They have already grown to 300,000 users, but have been cut off from Twitter graph functionality. You can still post on Twitter that you are broadcasting. The Periscope app from Twitter created all the buzz in the past week. Since Twitter purchased Periscope in January, they have it pretty well integrated. And there is Google Hangouts on Air that isn’t quite as new and shiny, but still a contender.
Each of these mobile broadcasting platforms has its strengths and weaknesses, but I believe the Periscope app is the real game-changer and will have tremendous benefit to Twitter and to businesses using it. Anyone with a Twitter account can watch live streaming video on Periscope or Meerkat. Anyone with a Gmail address can watch on Google Hangouts on Air. Periscope and Google also archive video streams for later search and viewing. Meerkat does not, but using the #Katch service provides archiving functionality. Just as Instagram has added huge value to Facebook post-acquisition, I believe Periscope will do the same for Twitter. Live streaming video and audio is not always great through these services, but it is certainly good enough. And the lack of quality is offset by the ease of use and immediacy of live streaming.
Google Hangouts for Air is farther along in having an ecosystem of functionality adding to its value for business. For example, you can schedule a broadcast in advance. You can create a landing page for registration and to collect more information on planned attendees or even to collect a payment. Your streaming videos are saved to YouTube with its rich functionality for perpetual archiving and search/recommend functionality. I expect that an ecosystem will also evolve around Periscope to exploit the business possibilities.
For most business broadcasts of importance you will want to schedule them in advance and publicize through all of your social media, web, email, and podcast channels.
Periscope for Business presents a lot of interesting opportunities to connect with your customers real-time and with visual content. Here are some examples:
- Product or Company Event – Let your customers be part of the experience live. Let them share comments and Tweet to their followers about highlights.
- Panels – You don’t have to wait for a conference to host a panel of experts and foster a dialogue between them and your audience.
- Training – A picture really is worth a thousand words. Live and archived training can be produced cheaply and easily, be interactive, and prevent support issues later.
- Advice and Discussions – You can show a use case for your product or service and get feedback or you can offer advice on how to optimize value from your product or service while entertaining questions.
- On-site visits – You might host a behind the scenes visit to your factory location or to a customer site to see your product or service in action.
- Product demos – Show the world how your product works and how it can benefit them while answering questions and getting new ideas for enhancements.
- Product launches – You don’t have to gather press and analysts in a room for a launch or at least you can extend your audience online.
- Regular broadcasts of news and opinions – Host your own online news broadcast or ongoing video blog and gain immediate feedback from your audience.
- Live support – Show rather than tell someone how to solve their problem. Let them follow along in real-time while also potentially benefiting others who have a similar problem/issue.
- Realtor open house – Host a virtual open house and get additional viewers who cannot or will not come in person. Get immediate feedback on the property.
- Online focus group – Need some quick market research? Have an idea you want to bounce off potential customers? Crowd-source a virtual focus group to share ideas and feedback.
- Tourist information – Don’t just post some photos, but let your target audience experience some of the sights and sounds of your destination in real-time.
I’m sure I am just scratching the surface with these ideas and that many other industry-specific ideas may come into your mind. I believe the opportunities to use Periscope for Business are great.
However, it is not all unicorns and rainbows. As with most new technologies, Periscope opens up new threats that will have to managed and possibly regulated.
The idea that now anyone can be a mobile broadcaster anywhere also presents potential threats to your business. Some that come to mind for me include:
- Search – How do you enable your audience to find either live or archived video streams. What if you throw the party and nobody comes?
- Copyright infringement – What if someone is mobile broadcasting your copyrighted images, music, or text? How will you know and how can you enforce?
- Loss of revenue – What if someone broadcasts an event, concert, musical program, conference, or other content for which you normally charge a fee? How much revenue might you lose?
- Privacy – Images of you, your employees, or your customers may be broadcast without their explicit knowledge. Periscope location pinpointing is more granular than just your city and may draw people to a location where you don’t want them.
- Journalism and Broadcasting – If you are in the news or blogging business, you now have a whole new set of competitors – anyone around the world with a smartphone!
What do you think? Have you tried Periscope yet? For your industry do you see other Opportunities or Threats in using Periscope for Business? Please share your thoughts and ideas.