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periscope

Has Periscope just shown Twitter a way forward?

Periscope’s new functionality could spread to Twitter and reinvigorate the struggling social media giant. 

 

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Let’s face some facts. Twitter, and thereby by extension Periscope, have a rough road ahead.  A series of high-level departures at Twitter and the more recent general overall layoff of employees makes people question what will happen to Silicon Valley’s “diamond in the rough” tech company. The attempted shopping of Twitter failed for various reasons, reportedly due to the cost and the nature of product (Disney et. al. doesn’t want anything to do with trolls and hate speech, etc). Vine, one of Twitter’s high-profile acquisitions was also shuttered this weekend, leaving millions of social media posts and users in a state of limbo.

But just this week, Periscope took a step toward what could a brand new and exciting path for Twitter. Something that could rewrite the ways in which Twitter content is displayed and shared, and lead to a massive improvement in the product and strong growth with new users….should the parent company consider following this lead.

One of the problems with Twitter (and social media in general) is the signal / noise ratio. Following your Twitter stream for insight into Politics or Technology or virtually anything else results in a number of messages (and considerable time) sifting through extraneous and unrelated content. It is possible to create lists of followers that tweet about specific content, such as a list of Football twitter users or technology tweeters, but even then you still have to sort through other content that is not relevant. A hashtag based search can result in 100s of duplicate messages as retweets and other posts of the same content get caught up in the more general search parameters. These consumer-based curations of relevant content are still fraught with far too many false positives.

However, Periscope’s new group-based broadcasting system offers something unique and new to this dilemma:  Producer-based curations.

Periscope has introduced “groups”, a method by which a social media creator can share content with a specific more granular group of followers.  A content producer can create a group of users, say “Personal Friends” or “Subscribers (should a pay-to-view system develop one day). Groups can be built around interests, such as “tourist and travel followers” or “technology fans” such that Periscopes being created can be pushed to those users who have the most interest and are most likely to appreciate the content.

Periscope groups are thus showing a way forward for Twitter to escape the 140-character rut they find themselves mired in for going on the Nth year.  People have been asking for the capability to broadcast to specific groups for years, but Twitter has left Twitter lists as a “read only” functionality; you can see all the tweets from a list buy you can’t communicate directly with that group.  Periscope groups will demonstrate that you can push content to certain users on certain subjects and that there is a market for this more detailed and specific sharing of social media.

This offers a tremendous future for Twitter. A way to grow their platform from beyond that a 140-character service but into something far more useful to creators and consumers. Broadcasting to groups, and conversely, the consumption of specific content from a group of users is a very exciting development in social media.

Twitter should seriously consider not only following the Periscope group concept but taking it a step further to create a more flexible “following” option. You would have the ability as a consumer to follow people only for certain types of content. As a producer you would have the option of sending content to everyone or to only those users who will find it of most value (Periscope-like groups).

For example, a consumer could subscribe to:

@Penguinsix

Everything (or)
->Photos Only
->Videos Only (Vine)
->Live Streams (Periscopes)
->Politics
->Social Media
->Food
->Hong Kong
->Other

Conversely, a creator could send their content out to a group, such as:.

Tweet from my @PenguinSix account only to:

Everyone
->Photos Only followers
->Videos Only (Vine) followers
->Live Streams (Periscopes) followers
->Politics followers
->Social Media followers
->Food followers
->Hong Kong followers
->Other followers

Twitter would thus become a multi-disciplined social media platform, where you could still get the 140 characters of wisdom from people but also get new types of social media content as it becomes popular, be it photos, video, live video, or whatever else Twitter acquires in the coming years. Greater curation tools on both the creator and consumer side would render Twitter far more valuable to users. The platform would be set to add new features as they become available, bringing more and more people back to Twitter every day (hour) for more and more types of content without getting lost in the signal / noise conundrum of drinking from the social media firehose.

Twitter has recently shut down the (once) popular VINE platform that they acquired only a few years ago. Without a doubt the VINE integration with Twitter was poorly handled. Getting “Vide’d” is now a verb amongst content producers who are very wary about putting time and effort into a platform only to find it getting nixed with a corporate reshuffle of the parent company. A very scary lesson for anyone involved in Periscope at this time.

A system like this could have saved Vine (and could save Periscope). The existing subscriber base could be ported over to the Twitter in a flexible following platform after integration, such that if you currently are following someone on Vine or Periscope, your Twitter would now have a separate list of people you following only for videos (Vine) or live videos (Periscope). Twitter and Periscope creators would thus have access to a much larger potential pool of viewers as the sheer number of Twitter users would be now be more engaged in the Periscope system.

Whether Twitter follows Periscope’s lead in this space is a big question. Whether anyone is even looking at expanding the platform is questionable as there are probably voices who are simply saying “let’s trim around the edges, give it a fresh coat of paint and sell it on to someone else.”

But it would be pretty cool if they were thinking of something like this…

 

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Why Periscope and live video streaming is the the social media that really matters.

Social media has gotten stale.

Sharing of links to existing media has become the norm, and truly original content is disappearing.   What remains is not the new new thing anymore and is, at times, devolving into a cesspit of pointlessness, be it “I had eggs for breakfast” to “SUYT you B!#@$”

Into this fray we now have what some might see as an even more mundane concept–live streaming of ordinary people. Periscope and Facebook Live now give the power of any person to turn a camera on and have an audience around the world. The beautiful and the banal, the majestic and mundane can now be streamed 24/7 live from any place on earth, well anyplace with a good enough mobile signal.

So why is it that live video streaming could be the revolution that Social Media really needs?

It’s often said that the holy grail of social media is a “conversation” that you can have with others. A two way street where you can communicate your views, values and beliefs with others, or just share a funny cat picture and have people comment on how funny it was. But even in the best of circumstances the conversation currently being foisted upon users is rather one-sided and shallow. Social media has stagnated behind fewer and fewer moments worth sharing and a growing corporatization of social media which has made it somewhat unidirectional and boring.  (Don’t believe me? Check out the Twitter feed of the Microsoft CEO, which has to hold the world record for the most canned and unoriginal content in the history of Twitter.)

The problem with social media, as understood by the public relations departments of most major companies and social media ‘stars’ is that they aim rather low. They seek to have a “conversation” and then love to talk about how the conversation is leading to engagement, but “engagement” is a rather hollow concept and many traditional measurements of ‘engagement’ are as useless as ‘eyeballs’ as a metric. It may be a quantifiable (and billable) number, but does it really matter?

Into this landscape comes Periscope and a host of other live video streaming services. Live, raw, unfiltered views of the world from ordinary people communicated out to waiting eyes and ears. With a motto of “See the world through someone else’s eyes” Periscope has millions of producers around the world sharing their slice of life to a waiting and eager audience. And while it, at times, has dropped in the banal and boring, there is something else going on that is worthy of note.

Despite some feeble attempts to script and control the narrative of a live video stream by some broadcasters, the end users of live video actually have far more control over the conversation than most public relations professionals would ever allow. Discussions overlaying the presentation can go on tangents of their own, and users can often stray the conversation off the intended course and subject despite the best efforts of the broadcaster. The conversation can turn directions and spin and it takes a steadied broadcaster to keep it on focus and moving toward the real goal.

It is this ebb and flow of conversation that offers the best opportunity for social media in its history.

What should be sought, developed and fought for with this new medium is the true Holy Grail of social media. People should cast aside the one-sided conversations that are pointlessly supported by the hollow engagement metrics of likes and shares. With live streaming we have a chance to really communicate what is most important:

Understanding.

Understanding comes when you see the world through someone else’s eyes and UNDERSTAND why they see it a certain way. A person who watches a live video experiences the decision-making process of another person first hand and begins to UNDERSTAND why they turned this way or that, why they eat this or that, why they buy this or that. When a person is given the chance to see things live as they occur, and occasionally even take part in the decision-making process of that individual or guide a conversation a certain way, that person develops a much greater understanding of what is going on, and a greater respect for the other person.

Periscope started with the voyeuristic view of the world:  “Look at this, I’m seeing a guy in Hong Kong ride the ferry to the toy store. He’s taking his morning hike in the clouds above the city.  He’s taking a tram to get some lunch.  Wow. This is amazing”.   But as time goes by and people start to think more about what they are seeing, a new, empathetic realization takes starts to take hold. “Yes, I am seeing a guy on a tall mountain, but he’s really just out for his morning walk. And he’s really just going to get some lunch.  Hey, I go for hikes, I eat lunch–wait a minute–this guy is a lot like me.”

The empathetic instead of voyeuristic reading of “See the world through someone else’s eyes” is what offer the greatest potential for live video to rule social media. A person who listens and understands is someone who has learned something and may alter their own behavior to that in line with that understanding.

A myriad of choices, from political decisions to simple mundane tasks can be altered when an understanding consumer of social media makes their own decisions with the views of another person in mind. It also leads to a tremendous marketing potential in that a person who understands why they should do something a certain way become a consumer who will perform that way without additional influencing. It’s one thing to have a conversation with a person and say to them “I really think you should buy this product” but it is something far greater, and more valuable, to have a person say “I understand why I should buy this product and will buy it myself, now and in the future.” Getting to this level creates a consumer FOR LIFE, not just for one transaction.

While difficult to quantify, the empathetic consumption of live video can truly be the revolutionary social media development of the next decade.

Or it might just end up as an updated version of Chatroulette… (more on that in my next post). IMG_4968

 

 

 

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Periscope Feature Wish List from @PenguinSix

I really have no idea how many hours I’ve spent making videos with the new app called Periscope. It is easily in the hundreds, as I have been making videos since the first day of the public release and now have over 31,000 followers.

In using an app this thoroughly, I’ve come across a few features that would really enhance the experience from a broadcaster’s perspective. So without too much ado, here is my wish list for new features for Persicope:

Time and Temperature.

It seems so easy, possibly a throw back to the 1970s when every bank had a blinking time and temperature sign, but probably the most asked question I receive is “What is the Time” and “How it the weather?” A new update for the iOS app has added time to the map, but personally I’d prefer it on the main video, perhaps as a 10 second overlay every so many minutes.  Just a little time and temp ‘bug’ that pops up on screen or in the chat to save me having to be a weatherman and a clock every few minutes.

Chat response presets

I spend an inordinate amount of time re-answering the same questions day after day. “What do you do?” “How old are you?” “Why did you move there” etc. It’s gotten to the point that even some of my regular viewers can answer the questions should I not notice them.

What would be really helpful would be five buttons on the side of my screen or appearing through a ‘long touch’ that would pump into the chat preset answers or statements from me to my community. If I could save short amount of text as a  preset answer I could just click ‘1-2-3-4-5’ and focus more on being alive and less on repeating myself.

Pause the Phone

Facebook Live has a new feature that Persicope needs. The ability to put a broadcast on ‘pause’ when someone calls in on the phone. It is absolutely frustrating when you have a good Periscope underway only to have a phone call come in and disrupt or disconnect the stream. A pause, perhaps with a little “telephone icon” appearing on the screen would be a wonderful addition.

Scroll back of comments

When comments are fast and furious, or when a broadcaster is walking down the street, it’s incredibly easy to ‘miss’ a comment as it has faded or passed from view before you had a chance to react. The ability to scroll back even only 5-10 seconds would be a welcome addition, as a broadcaster could go back and see a comment even after it has faded from the screen. A swish down over the chat to pull up the last few comments in a conversation would be quite helpful.

 

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Enhanced following options

At present to follow someone on Periscope you’ve got to slide the screen to the left (1), tap the profile (2) and then hit the follow button (3). This three step process was designed to prevent accidental follows, but has had the effect of making new subscriptions difficult and even confusing to new users. Broadcasters have to explain several times through a broadcast how to become a follower. “If you would like to follow, please slide left (or up for Android), tap my profile, and then click the follow button”.

Periscope should consider going back to the old solution, where following was a bit easier. But if not then the other solution is already present in Periscope’s system. An automatic “follow this broadcaster” message appears in the chat (far too early) when you start watching a new Periscope, but if it was able to appear and reappear on a periodic basis throughout the chat new followers could more easily subscribe to broadcasters they wish to follow. A user setting to enable the ‘follow me’ message to appear every 1-5-10 minutes would be easy to implement and would eliminate the need for broadcasters to “beg” for followers every so often

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Analytics

As Periscope grows into the professional world, the demand for detailed analytics will rise. How many users is great, but when are they watching, when are they turning off, how did they find my scope are all questions most other social media sites can offer their content creators.

From a regular broadcaster perspective, some interesting additions would be something like “how many new people in the last five minutes”. I frequently do a broadcast that will hover around 100 people, but what surprises me is that very few of the 100 people at the end are the same 100 people that were there at the beginning.  People come in and out, thus requiring you to re-answer some simple questions, but you often don’t how many are new and how many are the ones who have stuck with you from the start.  Some sort of system where you could tell how many new watchers you have in a scope would be quite helpful.

High Quality Upload

I’m spoiled by 4k. Well not even 4k, but by 1080p at 60fps. The image quality of today’s phones is getting better and better, but due to the nature of live streaming of an HD signal is probably a monstrous bandwidth hog.

Speak of hogs, here is a great example, I came across a breaking news story of a wild pig running amok through Central Hong Kong. The footage from my chase was used by the Guardian and the BBC, but unfortunately, the quality of the video was somewhat subpar vs. what I could have recorded in 1080p.

[iframe src=”https://embed.theguardian.com/embed/video/world/video/2016/jan/15/hong-kong-riot-police-capture-wild-boar-video” width=”560″ height=”315″ ]

If there is the option for a high quality video upload after the broadcast had ended, this would be a great addition for Persicope to roll out, especially if Periscope migrates toward longer playback and storage of previous scopes. Note I’m not talking about a delayed update like we used to have with the app, but an upload of a full 1080p version of the Periscope (though I suspect this might prove a tremendous technical difficulty with one version of the video being saved at 1080p and another being streamed at a lower bit rate, all on the fly at the same time).

Overlays

Overlays have become part of the standard television and even Youtube broadcasting environment. The ability to display and rend graphics on the screen while broadcasting is now available in even the simplest free broadcast tools. Adding some functionality to have an overlay of an image or even a ticker would be something some broadcasters, especially the professional ones, would find quite helpful.

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Edited Titles

“See my lunch of noodles in Hong Kong” is an interesting title, but after starting a broadcast and getting a good crowd I generally don’t like to hang up on them as I leave the restaurant and go run my next errand. In fact broadcasts over 5 minutes rarely stay on the same topic as the original title. A Periscope starting on a mountain path could easily end up on a city sidewalk. A conversation about movies could change to politics.

New users see a title and come expecting a noodle lunch or a conversation about movies and quickly get annoyed when they discovered the “missed that” part earlier. Giving the user the ability to keep his existing community and conversation ongoing without having to endure new users coming in expecting something else would improve the overall experience.

And that’s enough for now….

 

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One minute snippets of life in Hong Kong, my new Youtube series

I took the kids out the other day for a photo walk, trying to teach them some principles of street photography by walking around the city and observing all there was to see.

“Take photos of the unusual, the fascinating, the unique, the strange, the weird. Whatever it is that catches your eye, try to take a picture of that”

So we walked through the wet market in Hong Kong, where fish lay on the boards before being cut, pieces of meat hang from dirty hooks cut by men with a cigarette behind their ear and a cleaver in their hands. Noodles are stacked high and stretched long as they are made in the shops and sent to restaurants nearby. Neon lights calling out for everything from foot massages to yummy bakery goods, which also filled the air with the sweet smell of freshly made treats.

And after nearly 20 minutes of this, my boys had yet to take a single picture.

“What’s wrong?” I asked. “I said take a picture of the unique, the strange, the fascinating things you see on the street and here we are in the land of noodles and neon and you haven’t taken a single photo.”

“Well yeah dad, we see this everyday”….

It was then I realized my kids really do call Hong Kong their home.

But for me it is still rather unique. So I’ve decided to start some Youtube videos of the “everyday” that we see here in Hong Kong. My new set is in a playlist on Youtube called “One Minute Hong Kong”–one minute snapshots of life from the city I now call home.

Feel free to take a look.
[iframe src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/videoseries?list=PLNmehJDsxSj8pMCQ85SimnIZvCsfr53dl” width=”560″ height=”315″ ]