Over recent years, we've seen countless social platforms explode onto the scene in a blaze of publicity only to come crashing down to earth just as quickly (anyone remember the hype around Ello – perhaps ‘Goodbye’ would have been more appropriate - last year?).
The latest cool kid on the block is Twitter-owned Periscope, the new live-streaming app, which launched at the end of last month and is currently causing a huge stir. Yesterday morning I even heard The BBC’s Tech Correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones manfully trying to overcome John Humphrys’ well-practiced cynicism on Radio 4’s Today programme. Impressive publicity for a two-week old social network!
Although the idea is relatively simple – to allow your followers to live-stream whatever you are broadcasting and post comments in real time – the fact that Twitter has bought it for a reported $130 million shows that it means business. And the availability of streaming on a mobile device - plus the ability to record broadcasts for people to watch in their own time - seems to be a real game-changer.
Real-time marketing is moving at an extremely rapid pace, so Periscope (and its rival, Meerkat) is the next natural progression. Businesses and individuals want the fastest means of communication possible. And you can't get much faster than this.
Twitter has now limited Meerkat's access to the platform (no surprise there!) and Periscope allows users to pick and choose who can see their broadcasts. Similar to Facebook's 'Like' button, viewers can send ‘heart’ icons to Periscopers. One big difference is that you can send as many hearts as you like. At first I found this a big cheesy but it actually works rather well as a way of letting the Periscoper know you’re still enjoying the broadcast. It’s the ultimate in constant, real-time feedback…a bit like ‘The Worm’ during election debates.
I believe there's also plenty to be excited about from a B2B marketer's point of view. Imagine being able to film the launch of a new service, a software demo or a PR event? Or perhaps a 'how to' broadcast, a live blog, interviews with industry thought leaders, a tour of a client’s office or an interactive Q&A session. The list of potential uses is endless. And I’m convinced it has huge potential when applied to the B2B conference world.
On a personal note, I happened to fiddling around with Periscope over the Easter weekend and my 80-something Dad (you’re far too kind, yes my parents did indeed have me extraordinarily late) asked what I was up to. I started to explain Periscope to him, realised I was making a pretty poor job of it, so instead gave him a quick demo. The effect was remarkable: instead of the John Humphrys-like bewilderment and cynicism that I’d received on previous occasions when walking him through Twitter and Facebook, the minute he saw Periscope in action he ‘got’ it.
This aspect of Periscope: it’s ability to engage and entertain at the broadcaster’s end as well as that of the viewer, brings a whole new dimension to social media and the impact should not be under-estimated.
So will Periscope turn out to be one of the few social platforms that manages to survive the initial tech sector hype and come out the other side as a genuinely useful mainstream service? And will this be one of the tiny minority of social networks that, like Twitter, will prove as useful to B2B marketers as to their B2C counterparts?
I believe the answer to both of these questions is an unequivocal yes. And far from being yet another example of ‘Say Ello Wave goodbye’, this time it will be a case of Up, Up, Up Periscope.
I’m on Periscope (and Twitter) as xfactorcomms