WTF Is Periscope? And Why Should You Be On It Right Now?


Kayvon Beykpour and Joseph Bernstein saw a problem: they felt that despite the billon plus smartphone users all over the world, the camera was still an underused resource. A bit of a head-scratcher considering the 400 million active users on Instagram alone as of September 2015. But the digital entrepreneurs wanted to know why there wasn’t a way to see what was happening right now, anywhere in the world. Not in pictures, but in live stream video.

Their goal was to “build the closest thing to teleportation.” To jump around the world in seconds to see things that inspire us, make us laugh, motivate and excite, teach us, and ultimately, make us band together. 

They created Periscope. An app that had so much potential it was purchased by Twitter while still in beta.

And then it topped 1 million users within its first 10 days.  

So how is this going to change social media?

Live video-streaming is not new. Apps like Meerkat existed before Periscope. Webcams existed before Meerkat. But there is always one platform that takes an idea and makes it beautiful. After all, photo-sharing existed before Instagram, but no one spends hours lost in a Flickr hole. 

Let’s talk business. What Periscope can offer brands and bloggers is multifold. At its most basic it allows for direct-live-to-consumer marketing and connection. Watchers can comment and heart videos and choose to “follow” channels, much in the same way they can on Instagram. Whistle alerts can be sent every time a broadcast from someone you follow starts.  

Within the app, videos can be watched for up to 24 hours and users can share these broadcasts with their Twitter followers. (Something that Twitter blocked Meerkat from doing once it acquired Periscope.) There are also already apps designed to capture and store your Periscopes— like Katch— so that they can be embedded on your blog or company’s site. Brands will also be able to promote live events. All of this has the potential to lead to brand loyalty and sales. If someone sees something they like on Periscope, it’s free advertisement and an instant commercial platform. 

Same goes for bloggers. Not only will it change the way they connect with their audiences, but it could also lead to sales for brands they work with. Whether it’s Shea Marie of @peaceloveshea taking you behind-the-scenes during NYFW or Claire Thomas of @kitchykitchen live-streaming a recipe and tagging knife brands that she’s using. Which is a key feature in potential Periscope-born partnerships: bloggers can tag brands within their stream that they are either already working with or are interested in partnering with in the future. It's not just live-streaming, it's a live revenue stream. 

So how is this going to change the social world?

Human connection. Information sharing. Real time unfiltered news. The humanity in the app is where the raw power lies. 

Beyond the inevitability of the business side-- the sponsored posts and paid-to-promote content-- Periscope's unmediated access to anything from anywhere puts the individual in control of information. Sure, bloggers and brands will be able to craft and control their image, but to be able to “channel-surf” from NYFW to the moon to a discussion about women’s healthcare to a protest in Rome, connecting with people all over the world, has unlimited potential.  

"This going to change the social world."

Tweet this. 

The app is offering a "Teleport" option, which takes users to a random place in the world and shows them a broadcast. 

It is also provides a "Mutual Broadcast" option, where you can start a private broadcast for people who you follow and follow you.

Part of the beauty of Periscope is in its simple truth, and the somewhat utopian hope of its founders. The hope that the most important events and conversations will be documented. Its possibilities are as endless as there are people and places in the world. The stories are everywhere. Life is everywhere.

We just need to pick up our phones, and Periscope.