Live Streaming Local Government

Kim Ervin,  Pyramid Communications Senior Social Media Strategist, provides a monthly column on digital storytelling.

Live Streaming Local Government

periscopeBy: Kim Ervin, LinkedIn and Twitter

One thing that’s great about working in social media is the ability to have people help you out when you’re dealing with a bit of writers block. First off, shout out to the ELGL community for helping me in my moment of creative weakness. When I tweeted out for some ideas last week about what people wanted to learn more about, many ELGLers chimed in – “Periscope!” So, secondly, thanks for being awesome and encouraging me to help you learn more about Periscope. Ask and you shall receive!

Twitter (and beyond) is still all-abuzz about the recent announcement of Periscope. The new platform brings the opportunities for real-time, live broadcasts right from your phone for all to use. Think about how a tool like Periscope can bring you into a room or city – imagine broadcasting your child’s first steps live to the rest of your family, or watching what’s happening on the ground moment to moment in Baltimore, or still being able to share a concert with a friend when you couldn’t make it at the last minute? Periscope is a powerful development for the future of media, and for bringing communities and people even closer together.

Why don’t we start at the beginning for those who haven’t yet had a chance to dig in?

What’s Periscope? 

2015-04-04-1428114302-6830100-PeriscopePeriscope is pretty simple in its purpose. Available now on iTunes (Android and Windows Phone availability is still TBD), Periscope brings the real-time feel of Twitter to your camera. It allows you to show your followers what’s going on around you by live streaming video from your mobile device.

The interface is simple: it’s vertical video style with an area for viewers to add and share comments and a touch-to-like interface, so a broadcaster can see what their viewers think of their broadcast. You can follow a Periscope user, just like you can on Twitter, and tweet out a link seamlessly to Twitter when you start a live broadcast. Because Periscope is developed and owned by Twitter, it has all the benefits of a seamless integration with a channel we already know and love.

Think of Periscope like a happy marriage between Twitter and Ustream.

What Should I Broadcast Anyway? 

Unsurprisingly, Periscope is already going through some awkward growing pains. Like when Twitter first started out, a lot of people are trying (and failing) to understand how and when to use it most effectively. While we may see a few broadcasts of people eating sandwiches to start (just kidding – I hope too many people aren’t doing this), there are some great opportunities for local governments and organizations in particular to bring real value to your communities by way of Periscope.

Here are just a few ideas for Periscope moments:

  • Announcement/Press Conferences: Local government is often a news cycle driver, announcing new legislation or updates that are relevant for the community. If someone is hosting a press conference, consider opening up Periscope and bringing it to your constituents live.
  • Interviews with Elected Officials: Host “get to know your official” Q&A type sessions and take questions from the community. People can easily participate and it can be a nice way to bring officials closer to their citizens, demonstrating that they are listening to what’s important in the community.
  • Visits to City Hall: Have a school tour coming through the offices, or a notable musician making an appearance? Why not share it live?
  • Engagements out in the community: Is the local government sponsoring an event or is the town hosting a summer fair? Pop open the Periscope app and share your POV.

What Should I Consider When Embarking on a New Platform?

periscope-app-replay-videos.pngGreat question! Well, as I always say (over and over, sorry!), be clear about your goals and let that guide your focus. We know that sometimes it can be exciting to use the latest and greatest tools, but if you’re focused on what you’re trying to achieve and what your capacity is realistically, then you can make a strong judgement about whether to take up a new channel.

At this point, Periscope is still new and there aren’t a lot of examples of best practices out there just yet. As a result, think carefully before you hit that “broadcast” button and be ready to make some mistakes along the way. Learning and failing fast in these situations can help you figure out the right strategy for how your team should use a tool like Periscope, but that does involve accepting some risk. But high risks often have high rewards.

Also, you might try playing around with it on your own and tuning into other broadcasts before you start using it on behalf of your organization, just to ensure you’re fully familiar with the functionality.

A Note About Meerkat

Now you may be thinking, this sounds just like Meerkat, right? Well, you would be correct. They basically offer the same functionality of live streaming video. Meerkat came on the scene first, and managed to capture and leverage a lot of buzz around SXSW. Within a matter of weeks of Meerkat’s dramatic growth, Periscope dropped in and stole some of their thunder. Time will tell which channel will win fan loyalty, but it’s safe to say Periscope’s pairing with Twitter makes it more of a heavyweight to Meerkat’s lightweight status. Stay tuned!

Supplemental Reading

Meerkat breaks up with Twitter, jumps into bed with Facebook instead

Periscope A ‘Winner’ For Helping Us Pirate Mayweather-Pacquiao

Inside Periscope HQ: A Look at What’s Coming Next

Come Watch Periscope’s First Star

  • One hurdle that turns people off from new platforms is the fact that they do not adapt their content to that new platform. What works on Facebook might not work on Pintrest or Twitter. What works on YouTube, I suspect will not work as well on Periscope.

    I still see people who take time to design stunning ads meant to be printed or displayed, but then attempt to cram them into Facebook without resizing.

    Know how images and visuals playout in all your platforms and how you might need to adjust as you move among the different ones.