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Michael Hay

Published on

May 21, 2015


digital, events, meerkat

This week, LEWIS and Purestone brought together leading industry practitioners from across the breadth and depth of the modern marketing mix to discuss and explore industry trends, best practice strategies and, ultimately, how to maximise the digital conversation.

So, to help us amplify reach and maximise our own digital conversation around the event, we thought we would trial live streaming the presentations using Periscope.

Here are some Periscope lessons we learnt along the way for anyone thinking of streaming their own event. Most of these points are equally relevant if you choose to use Meerkat instead of Periscope.


1. Choose your location wisely

Make sure you’re one of the first ones in the venue and able to reserve your seat, because location is very important. When you’re filming using a mobile device you don’t have the luxury of long zoom lenses or external mics. Sit in the front row if you can, so that you can get a good shot of the speakers but also, more importantly, it lets you capture the audio as loudly as you can. For the viewers, good audio often excuses slightly poor video. Be aware also that because these streaming apps make you shoot in portrait mode it means that it is unlikely you will get both your speaker and their slides in shot. I tried to prioritise getting the speakers in shot and just moved the iPad slightly when they referenced a particularly important slide.


2. Try to avoid handheld

Investing in a stand or tripod will immediately make your video look more professional. If you’re filming on a mobile device the temptation is to hold it in your hand, but just imagine what it will be like for the viewers watching you walking around or suffering from shaking hands, not to mention how tiring it will be if you are streaming a long event. Lock the device off in a stand and give the viewer a smoother watching experience.

I looked around on Amazon and found a great iPad stand which was very good for static shooting, although still not ideal for moving the iPad when the subject was walking around. More ’tablet tripod heads’ will be available soon I’m sure. When buying stands, be careful that they don’t just let you attach the devices horizontally. For streaming apps you need to be able to attach the phone or tablet vertically to the stand so that you can film in portrait mode.


3. To engage or not to engage

As with any social media exercise you have to work out an engagement policy. You need a process for monitoring any comments that may appear. Periscope gives you the option to let anyone comment or just people who you follow. As this was our first live experiment we chose to go with the latter option in this particular case. Also, be aware that any new stream may attract some viewers who simply stumble upon your link within the app when it first appears in the global live streams list within Periscope.

You can block anyone who abuses the comments stream but you have to be monitoring carefully to see the comments before they disappear. One tactic could be to advertise in advance that if anyone wants to view and comment during the upcoming event then they should let you know their username in advance so that you can follow them. If you do allow comments, they can be a great way to get feedback during the event and you can even task people in advance with coming up with questions that they can put in the comments for the event host to then put to the speakers. This may help if you don’t get many people asking questions at the event itself. As we know, people are often braver when typing on a keyboard.


4. Live commentary

If users join your stream in the middle of a presenter’s speech they might not know who that person is or what they are talking about. One option is assign someone the role of posting comments to inform the other viewers of what’s happening. You can do this by creating a separate Twitter/Periscope account that includes your company brand in the name so that viewers know it is official.

This person could then add commentary such as writing the event speaker’s name every five minutes or so and reiterate some key points they are addressing in case someone dropped off the stream for a minute. This adds useful information to the stream which can make it more engaging for your viewers. One thing I did during our trial, to help inform the user a bit more without having the comments switched on, was just to point the iPad at the banner with the event name and information in between speakers.


5. Systems check

Make sure your mobile device has enough hard drive space available and enough battery life. I used an iPad 2 which was fully charged and had a lot of hard drive space. I also had a fully charged iPhone as a backup just in case the battery died on the iPad. If you want to save your stream for viewing later you need to factor that in because you need to have enough space to save the video to your camera roll.

The file size is not huge, though; we filmed around three hours of footage and it took up around 2GB on my iPad’s hard drive. The battery of the iPad also only went down from 100% to 45% after three hours of streaming during a four hour period. At the end of the first half we uploaded that video to the Periscope Replay feature. The 1 hour 45 minute stream recording took less than fifteen minutes to upload, ready for us to start streaming again after the coffee break.


6. Tell people you are live streaming!

Obviously inform all your speakers that you will be live streaming, but also make sure that everyone around you at the event knows that you are live streaming too. You want to avoid the possibility of any last minute, stress-fuelled, muttered curse words or private conversations within earshot of the Periscope app. And it’s good to switch on a minute or so before the event starts if you can. This lets people click on the link from Twitter, or launch Periscope, and get settled before the actual presentations begin.


7. Spread the word

Our marketing department did a great job spreading the word about our live Periscope before the event and we managed to attract nearly 500 viewers watching our first stream. It did highlight how important this element is. Live streaming notifications are a transient thing. If people don’t see your tweet at that particular moment then they may miss your live stream.

Make sure you tell people before the event and encourage them to follow you on Periscope as they will then also get a notification from the Periscope app when your stream starts. If you market heavily in advance, people can have the live stream in their diaries in just the same way they would if they were attending the event in person. Keep tweeting before the event so that people are reminded about it and continue to do so during the event as you may get more people joining part way through if they see a later tweet.


Bonus Periscope tip

A great use of Periscope, outside of events, is to do an interview with someone where they answer questions posed to them via the Periscope comments, much like a ‘Twinterview’. A great example of this is Tim Ferriss’ examples where he switches on Periscope for ten minutes and just answers random questions that people ask him in the comments.

You can watch these by following Tim Ferriss in the Periscope app and looking out for his question time videos. He reads the comments as they come up on screen and responds with short, sharp answers. Not everyone will be able to do this in real-time as fast as Tim but you could do it with someone behind the camera reading the comments and feeding the interviewee with select questions. Much like this other Tim Ferriss interview video. It’s a fantastic way to interact with viewers in real-time.

In the picture to the left you can see me watching the stream live on my iPhone whilst recording the real thing on an iPad. You can see that there is a few seconds delay in the streamed version on the iPhone.

The key to maximising Periscope is to learn by doing. Don’t feel shy about experimenting and playing around with the app. Everyone else is in the same boat after all.

Do get in touch