Periscope: The new face of breaking news?

 In Social Media

In the ever-changing media landscape, user-generated news is becoming the norm. Periscope, a live-streaming social media platform, is the new kid on the block, and brands, campaigns, and avid social media users have been exploring and experimenting with the many ways in which the tool can be used.

I’ve always been fascinated by the role social media has played in the evolution of news. It started when Captain Sully successfully landed a plane in the Hudson River. The news first broke on Twitter and that’s when the social network started to really turn heads and establish itself as a platform for breaking news.

Since then, tactics like live tweeting have become commonplace. But now that video has started to dominate the online space in terms of engagement and reach, live streaming has certainly disrupted the market.

Last night, I received a Periscope notification informing me that the Huffington Post was live streaming from outside of the Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church. It immediately piqued my interest. What happened this week in South Carolina was a national tragedy, and I was extremely curious as to how this new platform would add (or detract) from the national conversation and grieving process.

Here is a screenshot from the broadcast showing the front of Mother Emanuel AME. Periscope is designed to be used vertically, but the broadcaster wanted to incorporate more of the building in the shot. On the lower left, you can see where comments were streamed. When a broadcast is too full, the comment feature is only available to those who tuned in first. To the right you can see hearts that the broadcast is receiving and the number of viewers on the broadcast at any given moment.

Over 16,000 viewers tuned in for at least a portion of the live stream hosted by a young, white gentleman. He focused mainly on the church, getting a bit closer to show the gifts and flowers left to honor the victims. One passerby asked him to stop videotaping, which stuck with me, as the gathering was personal and somber in nature. It made me pause and wonder if live streaming such an intimate moment did more harm than good.

But then I realized the potential. Periscope is different from other live streaming platforms like Google Hangouts and Ustream in a variety of ways. It’s more approachable, mobile-friendly, and, most importantly, more social.

One thing that makes Periscope stand out is that viewers can comment and heart broadcasts, which provides a unique platform for interaction between the broadcaster and viewers.

As with any social platform, the comments provided were both positive and negative, and as a social media manager for a number of clients, my mind immediately went to moderation capabilities for Periscope. Upon further investigation, I learned that individual users can block others so their comments no longer display.

In the end, what I found was that the overwhelming number of comments were indeed positive. Messages of support poured in from cities across the nation, and beyond. A shared experience was created for each of it’s users and it made it clear that this tragedy didn’t take place in some far off place, but rather right within a community that is not much different than yours or mine.

There’s a lot more to learn about platforms like Periscope and how they will continue to shape the news, as well as shared experiences. Over the next few weeks, I’ll follow up with answers to these questions and more:

  • What is Periscope?
  • How do I use Periscope?
  • How do I block someone on Periscope?
  • How do I make a private broadcast on Periscope?
  • How are brands using periscope?
  • How does Periscope work with Twitter?
  • How can I moderate broadcasts on Periscope?
  • Can I share Periscope broadcasts I’m watching?
  • How can I adjust how many push notifications I get on Periscope?
  • Can I report a user on Periscope?

In the meantime, please leave any questions you want answered, comments, or suggestions in the comment section below!

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