Is Periscope a Threat to Conference Attendance?

Getting to Know Periscope

Cell phones have revolutionized the way people communicate. It’s hard to remember a time when people could not only make a phone call from virtually anywhere, they could look up directions to the nearest grocery store, find a restaurant for dinner or pay a bill anytime, any place.

Social media applications like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter added another level of communication to cell phone usage, and created a sense of community for people spread all around the globe. Just as we got used to seeing (and using) hashtags and tweets, Twitter introduced its latest technology feature: Periscope.

Part social media, part video service, over 10 million people so far have signed up with Periscope since it was rolled out in April. People are using Periscope to create how to videos, to take sightseeing tours and to engage with people in their social circle and find new connections around the world.

Active Periscope streams Sept 28, 2015 1:15pm

Periscope allows viewers to interact with the user, by sending messages such as “Can you turn right?” or “Tell Joe I said ‘Hi’” or add their own two cents to the conversation. This interactive video and/or social media tool is still finding its footing in the technology landscape as more and more people discover this new app. One thing is certain, however, people are embracing the newest method of communication in record numbers.

Discovering the benefits

So, who exactly is using Periscope? The demographics of Periscope’s early adopters may surprise you. Yes, the largest age-group of users is the 18-34 year old range. This group’s users double the number of users between 35-49 years old.

Many videos on Periscope are similar to what one would expect from a teenager with a new toy. However, the surprising reality is that a growing number of businesses are using Periscope to interact with their customers in a way that was never possible before.

By offering quick videos on products or services, introducing a new product or promoting an event, Periscope brings a new and exciting marketing method to business.

Finding the pitfalls

The ramifications of cell phone video technology are nothing new. Unauthorized recordings of movies, concerts, sporting events and other paid activities have long been a thorn in the side of copyright holders and others. Another potential victim of Periscope’s success? Conferences and workshops.

Many keynote speakers and conference organizers are concerned that if audience members are allowed to Periscope their event, people will not only be able to get their information for free (reducing the organizer’s profit) but may decide to skip the conference altogether in the future.

While cell phone photo and video capabilities are good, watching a video being filmed by someone in the audience on their phone cannot compare with actually being there.

The video, while decent, is not designed to be a replacement for the high quality videography of professional film. In a conference setting, the acoustics can leave much to be desired and a phone-filmed version of the conference can make the sound ‘tinny’ or muffled.

Learning from afar

Technology issues aside, the potential usage of Periscope has far reaching benefits for both consumers and business. Periscope has great potential to generate interest, drive brand awareness or increase visibility of topics and events. Conference/event speakers and organizers can embrace this new technology in a way that is beneficial to the event and the cause.

While there may, in fact, be some people who would choose to skip an event in an effort to save money, this will most likely be a small group. Not enough to be a threat to conference sales or profitability. Never mind the benefits attendees gain when participating live at an event

Attending a conference provides opportunity for networking, for social interactions with others in your field and gives you a chance to attend multiple meetings on a variety of subjects all in one place. These experiences cannot be replaced by viewing a conference speech on your phone.

I recently watched Jay Baer’s session at the 2015 Content World marketing conference via Periscope. Since I wasn’t able to physically attend the conference, being able to participate in the session, even in a small way, was amazing.

Jay Baer on Periscope

Having the opportunity to hear Baer’s presentation was motivating and educational – exactly what the conference was supposed to be. I already own a copy of Youtility and have enjoyed listening to him on various podcasts.

A few days later, Jay Baer was giving a presentation to the FAO at the United Nations. His talk was broadcast on Periscope. That is one event I couldn’t even buy a ticket to. Thanks to Periscope, I was able to see to his presentation live via my cell phone.

If I ever get the chance to see Baer live, I will definitely be there. Seeing him through Periscope was great – but if anything, it increased my desire to hear him live.

Periscope offers its users new experiences and opportunities that they may have never had. The secret will be for businesses to find ways to use this new technology in a way that benefits both the user and the viewer. How can you use Periscope to engage your customers?

If you’ll be attending the Excelerate conference, you can Periscope my talk.


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