So You Want to Try Periscope? Here’s What You Need to Know.
The Periscope App
The Periscope App, which can be downloaded on your phone, is inspired by the “periscope” used by sailors to spy on the outside world from their submarine.
The app version of that lets you get a peek into someone else’s life and world. For instance, you can use Periscope to step into my office and be part of a conversation as I sit on my purple couch. You can take a walk with someone as they exercise their German Shepherd in the pastures of the Netherlands. You can ride and listen along to the radio with a business person in Germany as he cruises to work on the autobahn.
From the comfort of your own living space, you can “spy” on the world.
That sounds too complicated? Honestly, it’s really not.
Here’s how I suggest you dip a toe into Periscope.
First, realize that YOU don’t have to live stream anything from your own life, unless you want to. You can see other people’s “scopes” without them ever seeing you.
To do that, you of course need to open a free Periscope account. I have a simple explanation for how to do that here. Below, though, I’ll talk you through some of the most common worries and questions.
Here’s exactly what to expect.
Once you’re logged into your new account, you can look up an individual user (like me!). Or you can take a look at some of the live streamed videos Periscope recommends.
When those live stream videos come up, if you don’t like what you see, you can close them within seconds.
If you do enjoy what you’re seeing, you can click the “heart”–which is the equivalent of “liking” someone’s Facebook post (except that you can give them thousands of hearts if you want). You can also comment to the person on camera (only if you want to) and they will see your message come up on their screen as a text.
In addition, you have the option to follow a specific user you like. You can turn on your notifications so your device will alert you when that user “goes live” in the future. But also, if you miss their live stream, you can probably catch a couple of their recent recordings on “replay.”
If you dropped onto my Periscope profile this week, for instance, you’d catch me delivering some helpful tips for small talking.
Is there anything creepy about it?
Mostly, no. It IS like any other social media platform. There are people who use it in helpful and positive ways as well as people who use it to complain, over-share, and so on. And obviously, like any internet forum, you will discover both people you agree with and people who hold opposing opinions.
The majority of people live stream things that are appropriate for dinner table conversation. However, there are always a few who venture into uncomfortable topics you may want to avoid. The nice thing is each “scope” has a title that can help you determine if it’s content you’d like to watch or not.
Periscope also has a pretty good screening system. Users who are watching any given scope can flag commenters (we call them trolls) who say inappropriate things, for example. So the abuse and spam really is kept at a manageable level.
When I scope, it’s VERY, VERY rare for someone to say something out of bounds. If they do, I usually just ignore it…or block them. I’ve only had to block 4 people per year of regularly using it, if that tells you anything about your odds.
What do you use Periscope for?
I use Periscope to share really, really basic social tips that are best delivered in face-to-face interaction…or that maybe aren’t substantial enough to write a whole article about, but are still worth passing on.
People who come to my scopes are usually types who like to grow and improve themselves, including picking up helpful hints on how they interact. They are also just social and friendly and many enjoy just checking in and saying hello.
Over time, Periscope users that do well develop a community of regulars who often join live streams or watch replays. This is why it appears the user knows some of the people in the “room.” They kind of do because they’ve had many virtual conversations with them over time. If you join one of my scopes, you will definitely see this is the case for me.
While Periscope might not be for everyone, if you already love social media, it can be a fun use of your downtime.
One last note on my scopes
I’ll post a little “Periscope Roundup” on my blog each week, so you can see what I’ve been talking about most recently. But keep in mind, Periscopes aren’t usually posted permanently. If you don’t watch them live…or watch the replays fairly quickly after they go live…most users eventually cycle out the old ones and replace them with new content.