What is Periscope and how can it help your business?

Larissa Ham

Think you finally have the social media world nailed? Then you might be delighted – or despondent – at this news: there’s a new kid in town.

Periscope, a live streaming app snapped up by Twitter, has reportedly attracted 10 million users since its March launch.

The live video service allows anyone from Buenos Aires to Berlin to ‘scope’ whatever they like to anyone in the world. All you need is a smartphone, the Periscope app and a Twitter account – which automatically notifies your followers when there’s something to watch.

Periscope’s creators say they wanted to “build the closest thing to teleportation,” allowing users to see the world through someone else’s eyes.

To find out what’s on at any given moment, you can either search via a map or a list of video titles. Each video can be replayed for 24 hours.

Joe Brown, co-owner at social media marketing agency Media Junkies, says he’s seen everything from a surfer ‘scoping’ from the waves, to a life coach beaming his everyday adventures.

“As you’re talking live, people write their comments on the bottom of the screen, so it’s really interactive,” says Brown. Users show their appreciation by sending hearts.

“You really end up getting to know someone. It’s a lot more real without kind of hiding behind Twitter or Facebook with just words or photos,” says Brown.

You really end up getting to know someone. It’s a lot more real without kind of hiding behind Twitter or Facebook with just words or photos.

His company used the app to hold a live Periscope training session with 15 small businesses, which attracted a number of others from the US.

Brown says Periscope is particularly valuable for businesses where personality or passion is key. For instance, a charismatic coach might be a good fit, as would a company selling an experience such as hot air ballooning.

Adam Franklin, co-author of Web Marketing That Works, warns the app is a double-edged sword.

“It can be a fantastic tool for interacting with your customers in real-time,” he says. “Small businesses that have an audience can provide a whole new level of access and communication which can accelerate trust (and sales).”

Live Q&A sessions or behind-the-scenes tours could be particularly valuable, says Franklin.

However both Brown and Franklin agree that Periscope, which still only has a small number of Australian users, could also prove a distraction.

“Most small business owners are time poor and would be better off focusing on their core business marketing like their website and email list rather than getting obsessed with the new shiny toy,” says Franklin.

Larissa Ham

Larissa Ham is a Melbourne-based freelancer. She write for publications including The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, The New Daily and Forge magazine, and also shares money saving tips at Hey, Little Spender!