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In February 2015,  Twitter purchased the live streaming application known as Periscope. With that acquisition, Periscope may have indeed left its nearest competitor, Meerkat, in the dust.

What is Periscope? Think of it as Facetime or Skype combined with Twitter and Snapchat. Broadcasting over Periscope puts your viewers or followers in the moment, be it a concert, a workshop, or a tour of your surroundings. Your audience, which can be global, is transported into your world.  Used properly, it can be a fantastic teaching tool, bringing new audiences into your world or workplace.

Broadcasts, known as “scopes” can be as long or as short as you want them to be. Note longer scopes will drain your battery and may test your audience’s attention span!
With Periscope you may choose to:

  • Broadcast to Periscope people only (Followers and people who find you from the map)
  • Broadcast to Periscope and to your Twitter account followers
  • Save your broadcast to the 24-archive, after which it is gone forever
  • Liink your Periscope to a “Katch.me” account where your scopes will be aggreagated and archived permanently New updates about Katch.me (Sept-Oct 2015)
  • Not save it to archive to be watched later and let it disappear after broadcast
  • Save the broadcast as a video to your camera roll (note there is a short window to do this)

While broadcasting, you will see people join. You do not see if they leave, but you are always shown an audience total at the bottom right corner.

Your audience can make comments. Everyone sees these comments. Each individual viewer can hide the chat by swiping right on iOS and swiping up on Android. The broadcaster can block trolls or inappropriate comments.

How compelling your “scope” is depends on your location venue, your topic and how well you narrate the event. If people like your scope, they give you hearts. Kind of like Instagram, except that they can give you many of them. Hearts are highly sought after and desired.

Using Periscope is easy. Download the free app. In the interest of brevity, Here is a great article about how to get started on Periscope with good basic, intro advice.

Like Meerkat and Snapchat, Periscope favors the vertical or portrait orientation. You can turn your phone sideways if you want your audience to take in a wider panorama, but the chat does not auto rotate, so your audience will only tolerate short, selected changes in orientation. Unless it is really warranted, keep it vertical.

Here are some useful and practical tips to push your scopes to the next level:

1. Invest in an inexpensive monopod, and a smart phone grip or clip with a tripod mount to lessen camera shake. If you are scoping scenery, this is particularly helpful.

2. Write your scope title in your memo app.  Live streaming often has connection issues. If you lose your connection, you will want to jump back in as quickly as possible. Best to copy and paste the same title and paste it back in. I use handles & hashtags in titles when appropriate.

3. Keep the title short. Remember, if your scope is going out on Twitter, your title will be tweeted with the preface of “Your Handle Name Live on Periscope.” I have noticed that my longer titles did not get posted on Twitter.

4. Work with a partner or supporter to retweet your scope broadcast to his or her followers. Because the technology is so new, I broadcast over my own personal handle @mwalfred as I have not been authorized to scope out officially from a work account.  But I have broadcasted Cooperative Extension events, so I let my assistant know ahead I am going to be scoping, and they in turn will share my tweet. For example, at a recent 4-H event at the Delaware State Fair I scoped under my own handle, shared it on Twitter and someone else retweeted me on the Delaware 4-H account.

4. Learn how to say “hello” in other languages. You will get curious visitors from all over the world. It’s a nice touch to greet them in their own language.

5. Don’t pan the camera too fast. Early on I scoped gardens, with beautiful flowers, bees and butterflies, etc. and I went way too fast. When I watched the replay, I realized I missed a lot of the detail and beauty. Linger. Let your lens take it in. Your audience will appreciate it.

6. Optional: Save the scope to your camera library. If you select this option, your vertical broadcast, while not ideal for iMovie or YouTube, can be repurposed for a 15-second video for Instagram or six-second snipped for Vine.

7. Repeat successful scopes! As mentioned, archives, if you choose to offer them, only last 24 hours, after which they are listed but cannot be viewed (unless you use Katch.me)*.You will not have access to them unless you have saved the broadcast (sans the chat) to your camera roll or photo library. But your audience can view your profile and see the breadth of your Periscope content. The titles will give them a sense of your Periscope brand. *Katch.me is a free external aggregate service that saves your scopes, however, it will be up to you to let people know about that archive.

As an example, I follow a soccer sports agent in NYC who loves to scope the city’s landmarks and attractions. Ron Waxman @RonWaxman (on Twitter and Periscope) frequently scopes the city from the rooftop of his Upper East Side home. But he has done walking tours and driving tours.  Ron, who I affectionately call the “Pope of Scope” frequently repeats his venues, and occasionally throws in a concert or two or a surreptitious museum tour. His opening line, “Helloooo Peeepole” has become his brand. He’s a hoot! Definitely check him out, he has this down!

Top left, people are commenting and giving hearts, top right, you can see the broadcaster Ron Waxman blocked an account, bottom center,the scope can be swiped to hide the comments

Top left, screenshots of scopes by @RonWaxman.  People are commenting and giving hearts, top right, you can see the broadcaster Ron Waxman blocked an account, bottom center,the scope can be swiped to hide the comments

8. Don’t ambush people. I have scoped a few local events. I have promoted some Cooperative Extension Master Gardener events on Periscope. I ask before I turn the camera on someone. Most don’t know what Periscope is. I let them know it is LIVE, going out over Twitter, and ask if is it okay to put them on camera.  In public areas, you can’t help from getting people on camera, but I do not focus on them and I respect their privacy. A passing sweep is one thing, but putting a close up of a person’s face or making them the subject of a Periscope is not ethical. Don’t do it.

9. The content becomes your brand. I have experimented with this new technology.I scoped my Siamese cat (surprisingly popular) toured my backyard garden, scoped while I walked around NYC and Grant’s Tomb, and broadcasted live garden events where I work, and while I walked through the famous Longwood Gardens. Nothing terribly earthshaking, but interest in topics are varied. You never know what people want to see.  People scope famous landmarks, famous cities, concerts, lectures and workshops. Scope where it is legal to do so. Do not scope copyrighted material, such as those who scoped the season six series opener of Game of Thrones and caused HBO to have a fit.

10. Repeat information. People will be joining in at all times of your broadcast, so as a courtesy, review and repeat where you are and what people are viewing.

11. Invest in a portable battery. Periscope is a lot of fun, but it will suck the life out of your battery very quickly. When running Periscope, extend battery life by turning off all other applications. I have a Jackery portable battery and a Geocobi when I need serious, sustained power. In most cases the Jackery will do the job. The Geocobi is overkill and I have it mostly for the iPad.

The Geocobi is a portable powerhouse and can charge phones and tablets and offers 10.400mAh, but it's heavy!

The Geocobi is a portable powerhouse and can charge phones and tablets and offers 10.400mAh, but it’s heavy!

A little longer than a lipstick tube the Jackery is lightweight and can follow you everywhere offering 3200mAh of power.

A little longer than a lipstick tube the Jackery is lightweight and can follow you everywhere offering 3200mAh of power.

12. Is it okay to ask for hearts? Personally, I think it is a little self-serving, but what you can do is ask the audience to heart your subject. I went into a butterfly exhibit, where you could walk in a large netted tent and experience Monarch butterflies up close. I got hearts without asking, but when I went up and got a close up, and lingered on the shot, and said “Let’s hear it for the Monarchs!” the hearts came flooding in. So you can do it without being overt or obvious about it.

13. Be prepared for trolls, and for unusual comments, possibly due to a language barrier or cultural misunderstanding. I simply ignore what I don’t want to bother with, but if someone is being a pest, or is introducing a tone into your broadcast, by all means block them. You can also tap an option to limit chats to only those you follow. It will reduce the spontaneity of live chat (which I feel is part of the Periscope charm) but if you are producing scopes that you hope to share or embed, you don’t want inappropriate comments emerging. Limiting the ability to chat to only people you follow is an option to consider. Click here for recent updates on how to control unwanted comments!

14. Promoting a product? Scope in front of your logo, your hashtag and your handle. Make them large and visible. Make posters of your hashtags and handles! Stage your background.

15. Scoping outdoors will make it difficult to read comments. Wear polarizing sunglasses, and if you are old like me, wear readers or sunglass readers. If you can’t read the comments, you can’t respond! This is social media. Be social! During the Master Gardener garden tour, I got great questions from the audience,which I relayed to the MG volunteers on the spot. This is great engagement! They were happy to answer questions!

16. Scoping tech topics and how to’s? Narrow your scope’s focus to one or two topics. If you have a lot to say or share, that’s fine. Divide it up for Mmore material for future scopes!

Periscope is what you make of it. Your content and your style of broadcasting will be your brand. I am plodding through in trial and error. Far more comfortable with the written word and being behind the scenes, I shy away from going on camera, but others do and I think it adds a great personal touch. Periscope has an enormous potential to reach new and younger audiences. If a handful here and there learn what Cooperative Extension is, get a garden tip from Master Gardeners, or learns about 4-H, I am happy with introducing people to where and with whom I work on that level. I am not looking for thousands of followers.  As I play around with the platform, I am getting better at it, and finding things to share. I’ve toured my back yard, shared the antics of my Siamese cats and even scoped a short helicopter ride (iphone in one hand scoping, a DSLR in the other hand) it was crazy, unscripted and I received my largest audience and hearts as a result. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. As one of the 4-H mottos goes, Learn by Doing! Download the app, see what people are doing and raise up your Periscope and invite the world in!