Writing Tip: Using Live Broadcasts with Periscope to Engage Readers

Periscope Start a Broadcast
Periscope Start a Broadcast | Source

Now you can broadcast your own live streaming video with real-time viewer interaction. This new technology could be a powerful viral marketing approach for HubPages.

As an author on HubPages, my first thoughts for this new technology is that it’s a great way for you to create awareness by having live discussions about your hubs. I think this is going to have a huge potential to get additional readers.

The broadcasts are done with your iPhone or Android and with the free app called Periscope.

It works on an iPad too, but I find it a little buggy. From what I can tell, iPhone users have the best experience. Updates to the app always are done for iOS users first. Android users usually have to wait for new features to be included.

I started by paying attention to see what other people are doing and what works on Periscope. With this article I share what I’ve learned.

Twitter Bought Periscope Before The Launch Date

Twitter purchased Periscope in February 2015 for about $100 million (in addition to a stock compensation package) from Co-Founders Kayvon Beykpour and Joe Bernstein. Kayvon is also CEO of this San Francisco based company. The app was launched on March 25th, 2015.

The purchase enhances Twitter's social network beyond text. I can see they have huge plans for additional live streaming features. They just added Periscope live-streams to Twitter feeds in January 2016.

Viewers Can Watch Behind-the-Scenes Real Life

I have found anchorpersons scoping their true behind the scene life in the television studio. For example, I watched a weather lady giving a forecast on her news channel. The scope showed her doing her presentation in front of the green screen, and I got to see what it looks like to her. It was just green and she was looking at a monitor off to the side so that she knew where to point as she talked about various temperatures on the map behind her.

I also watched a news anchor. This was even more interesting because I saw how boring the job could be. She only spoke on camera between commercials. During each commercial she was free to talk to us, the Periscope viewers. I could hear the commercial in the background as she prepared for her next short segment on camera. Most of the time she was board as she waited through each commercial break. At least she filled the boring time scoping.

Periscope Map showing active live broadcasts
Periscope Map showing active live broadcasts | Source

Specific Ideas for HubPages Authors

Since I became interested in Periscope as a means to compliment my writing career, this entire article is related to that endeavor. Here are my thoughts with that in mind.

Have a Plan For Each Scope

For each broadcast, make a plan for what you want to accomplish.

In my case, I was thinking if I ever start doing live broadcasts I wanted to have a list of things I would focus on for each scope.

As an author and writer on HubPages, I would want to engage with my present followers and potential new readers. It's helpful to plan ahead and know what the goal for each broadcast. Therefore, I came up with the following focus list. You can use it too if you want to do scopes of your Hubs.

  1. Introduce myself and describe my Periscope plans.
  2. Discussions of HubPages Updates.
  3. News of Google Announcements that effect online authors.
  4. Discuss other Hubbers and share news of their articles.
  5. Interview other writers and share their experiences.
  6. Live Q&A sessions of what authors struggle with.
  7. Discuss my hubs that don't work and why.
  8. Discuss hubs that do really well and why.

When planning each scope, prepare by making a simple outline. This will help you stay focused, especially as the flow of viewer comments can easily take your attention away from what you want to say.

How To Broadcast Successfully

As for setting up the broadcast, I won’t go into that here. It’s not part of this discussion and there are a lot of tutorials available by others. However, what I do want to discuss here are a few thoughts that have come to my mind as I learn and as I observe the mistakes others make.

Targeting Your Market

Don’t just broadcast miscellaneous scopes. You need to stay focused on a particular market.

Consider what your followers are looking for. Speak like you do to a group of friends.

Using a Good Title

Just as with our online articles, titles are important to attract an audience. The title needs to attract the interest of viewers and it needs to clearly state what to expect from the broadcast.

The image below shows how the app provides a field to type in the title we want to use for our broadcast. This may be my discussion planned for a Scope someday.

Example of a title I may use for a future Scope broadcast.
Example of a title I may use for a future Scope broadcast. | Source

The First Image - Thumbnail

I noticed that many people who broadcast don’t realize that the first image their phone’s camera is seeing will become the thumbnail for the scope. It’s the forward facing camera. Therefore, it’s important to point your phone at something meaningful when you click the “Start Broadcast” button.

Flipping Between Camera Angles

Each broadcast starts with the forward-facing camera view.

The forward facing and rear-facing camera can be switched by double-tapping the screen. On iOS there is also a tiny camera icon that can be tapped to switch direction.

Portrait vs. Landscape

I see many people holding their iPhone vertically when making videos outside or in large public places where landscape mode would be more favorable for a better viewer experience.

Did you ever notice when user videos are shared with news agencies and aired on television, black sidebars need to be added to fill the HD screen?

A simple solution is to hold the phone horizontally. All smartphones have a built in chip to detect position. So when holding it sideways, the video will be recorded in landscape mode that provides a widescreen view. When this is done with Periscope, the viewers can enjoy a full screen view by also holding their phone sideways.

Having said all that, I discovered while experimenting offline that portrait (vertical) mode could be better for in-home broadcasts where you have the camera only on yourself.

So experiment and see what works best for your particular broadcast situation.

Lighting Considerations

I notice that some people don’t pay attention to the direction of light. If the light source is behind them, they appear dark. It’s a good idea to keep this in mind and such an easy thing to do.


Trolls become especially troublesome for broadcasters who have a lot of followers. They curse and leave nasty comments. It becomes obvious that they are there because they feel inferior about their own ability to present themselves publicly in a live broadcast.

It’s not easy to watch the screen and click to block them while focusing on presenting a dialog. I guess it becomes easier with experience. I see many Periscopers doing a great job at keeping trolls under control. The main thing is not to engage with them. Once they are blocked, they become nonexistent. Viewers can block trolls too, by clicking on their comment and clicking “block”.

Recording Scopes For Future Use

Repurposing the video stream of a scope can be useful to give others a chance to see the rebroadcast. Scopes are kept on Periscope's server forever, but you can delete your broadcasts if you don't want to save them.

Besides saving automatically on the server, you can set an option to save the stream to you phone’s photo gallery and later post to YouTube.

In addition, there is a free service by Katch.com that automatically catches your broadcasts and posts them permanently. You have full control and can always delete your own broadcasts. In addition, you own the rights to your broadcasts.

The Future of Periscope

Advertising Revenue

I wouldn't be surprised to see future advertising included with scopes similar to how it's done with YouTube.

Twitter will most certainly want to monetize their investment in Periscope.

While in the development phase, it's best to leave it ad free. However, when it matures and the bugs get worked out, advertising will not only bring in revenue for Twitter, but hopefully it will be shared with Scoppers too. Maybe even by using AdSense. Wouldn't that be great for authors, especially since we're already signed up with AdSense?

Sponsored Company Logos

Soon people will be able to include their own graphics in the hearts, which are shown when viewers show their love. Hearts are similar to Facebook likes.

Of course this will be a sponsored service for a fee. Can you imagine the power of advertising on Periscope with company logos floating by instead of hearts when viewers show love by tapping the screen.

Live Periscope Feeds in Twitter

As of January 12th, 2016 Periscope live-streams can autoplay in Twitter feeds for iOS users. It should be available for Android users in the future.

This is a huge step forward. It increases one's audience tremendously since people no longer need to have the Periscope app installed to watch live scopes.

Is There Competition?

Periscope is somewhat similar to another product called Meerkat. However, Meerkat doesn’t interface with Twitter, which I think is a huge benefit for live broadcasts.

Facebook Live is available to Facebook users, but it has some limitations. For example, you can only live stream in portrait mode. That’s a poor choice since it only provides a narrow view where wide-angle landscape shots would give a better overall presentation in most cases.

Facebook Live does have a neat feature that captures all the comments in the recorded video on the wall of the broadcaster. I think this could become somewhat overwhelming, but that’s just my opinion.

Livestream is also a similar technology, but it’s a paid platform after a free trial.

Learning From Others First

Okay, so here I am writing this Hub about Periscope before even getting comfortable with live broadcasts myself. Nevertheless, I did take the plunge to do my first scope, which you can watch below.

As a systems analyst, I have a knack for absorbing information and self-learning. This is the stage I’m in right now with Periscope. I’m watching others, experimenting with off-line video, and getting familiar with using Periscope.

Many Periscopers broadcast training sessions. In addition, there are a lot of YouTube videos, although many are out of date since Periscope is a development in progress and adding new features every month.

My First Live Broadcast Experience

Even though I tested the waters by making my first scope, I don’t know if I will continue. As for doing Scopes for supporting my writing, I have not yet begun.

The thing about a live broadcast is that you are laying all the cards on the table for all to see. It’s not like making a YouTube video that you can edit and make perfect before anyone sees it. Yes, I posted my Scope on YouTube for you to see, but the actual broadcast was live!

With live broadcasting all your mistakes are out there, and you may not even be able to keep up with the influx of questions in comments as you are talking.

The first thing I became aware of was that I was not paying attention to the comments appearing at the bottom of the screen, even though I knew ahead of time to expect that.

It’s different when you’re on air. Your focus turns inward. There’s action going on from your audience and you have to focus on that too. I guess I would get used to that over time.

I Did It !!! - My First Scope Broadcast

So here's my first broadcast. Remember what I mentioned earlier about the difference between Portrait vs. Landscape mode? Well, I did this broadcast vertically since it was only me. When broadcasting with several people or a scene that covers a wide area, landscape is better.

Will I continue with more broadcasts? Truthfully, I may never carry out my plan. Nevertheless, that doesn’t stop me from learning the ropes and understanding it well, as well as experimenting with putting myself outside my comfort zone. That's why I made this first broadcast.

My main consideration is to use Periscope to enhance and grow my article-writing endeavor. The thing is, I recently retired and this would have to be another commitment that I may not want to make at this point in my life.

I feel that I would have to put my heart and soul into it to make it successful. I would have to make a full commitment to making broadcasts on a routine basis unless I just want to do a few at random just for fun.

I might consider that, but to gain a following of viewers one needs to be consistent with live broadcasts. It doesn't have to be daily, once a week might work. However, it has to be on a schedule that followers can expect. You can see why I hesitate to make that commitment.

I’d love to know your thoughts about this dilemma, and how you feel about considering it for yourself to enhance your success as an author.

What about you?

What are your feelings about using Periscope yourself?

  • I'll do more research and decide later.
  • I'm considering it to engage with my Hub readers.
  • I would only use it to watch other Periscopers.
  • Doing live broadcasts is beyond my comfort zone.
See results without voting

Final Thoughts

If you are uncertain if you want to do live broadcasts where dozens, or even hundreds, of people are watching, just start with the research as I have done. Get to know it anyway from a viewer’s point of view. Periscope is a fun place to be even if you just use it to see the world through other people’s eyes.

Explore the world in real time through someone else's eyes.

— Periscope

Useful Book for Periscope Wannabes

Periscope Your Biz: Live Video Broadcasting for Profits
Periscope Your Biz: Live Video Broadcasting for Profits

I found a detailed overview of Periscope by Shanda Trofe that can be downloaded for Kindle.

I highly recommend getting her book "Periscope Your Biz: Live Video Broadcasting for Profits"


Video: How to Use Periscope to Chat and Broadcast

© 2016 Glenn Stok

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Comments 10 comments

Jodah profile image

Jodah 8 months ago from Queensland Australia

Thanks for sharing this Glenn. I had not heard of Periscope but I can see it being an extremely popular app. It could take the place of the "comments" section if included in your hubs etc. I personally am not comfortable "being live" on camera myself. I prefer to have time to think and give my answers in writing as I am not the best orator in the world.

However it would be good to know all about and experiment with. Some people will jump at this as a great promotional opportunity. I found this very interesting.

Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 8 months ago from Long Island, NY Author

Jodah - I had the same problem that you mentioned about needing time to think, as you can see in the YouTube video of my first live broadcast. I only had six viewers but couldn't keep up with responding to them while at the same time trying to say what was on my mind. I found the experience extremely interesting and I'm glad I did it. I laughed at myself as I watched the replay and saw how I messed up. But it's the first attempt and I'm okay with that.

Thanks for being the first to read and comment on this hub about Periscope.

B. Leekley profile image

B. Leekley 8 months ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

I am not clear about the concept, Glenn. The word broadcast generally means to broadcast a radio signal or a television signal that can be picked up by a radio or a television that is set to the same frequency. In this case, by broadcast did you mean posted to the Internet? Or? If you clarified the analogous usage of the term broadcast in the article, I missed it.

What would be comparable to tuning a radio to get that broadcast? How did strangers know that they could watch you do a live broadcast and how did they find that broadcast on the Internet? I could not figure that out from what you described. How will I know when you are going to do another live broadcast and on what topic without you having to tell me individually in advance? Is there a schedule of all forthcoming Periscope broadcasts somewhere online? How is that organized when thousands of people around the world at any time are posting random, brief live broadcasts?

Is Periscope basically using a smartphone as a webcam?

I liked the video of you. I didn't see it live and didn't need to. I liked getting to know you a little bit by sight and voice as the person behind the hubs. Perhaps a short video (not live) should be a normal optional part of each hubber's profile.

As for Periscope, it seems of use for anything newsworthy, such as a father at work watching his son at home with Mom take his first steps. Such news can be anticipated and viewing a live broadcast planned. The same goes for a protest demonstration, a blizzard, or a graduation. How would one call attention to a live broadcast of an accident or a crime or an unexpected natural disaster in progress or that just happened?

Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 8 months ago from Long Island, NY Author

B. Leekley - You have asked a lot of very important questions, Brian. This could fill a whole additional Hub, but I'll try to give you a meaningful reply here.

The word "broadcast" comes from the old days of radio and television transmission, just as you said. But in today's world of the Internet, the same word is used. Many radio and television stations all over the world are broadcasting over the Internet now. It's also known as "live-streaming."

How do people find out about broadcasts? People who follow the broadcaster on Twitter, or other means, will be notified in real-time when they broadcast - Just as your followers on HubPages get notified when you publish a Hub.

The Periscope app automatically sends out a tweet when one starts a scope, as it's called. I can turn that feature on or off. I can also specify that Periscope should notify other Periscope users within the app. And I can notify everyone (public) or just my own followers. That's how I got six people watching my first broadcast.

Your point about scheduling is a good one. If I want to be successful with my scopes, it would be a good idea to plan a specific time for my broadcasts and let everyone know ahead of time. Some people do that. But there are also events that happen randomly, such a terrorist attack that I already experienced seeing on Periscope hours before the new stations talked about it in the U.S. People near these locations would just start scoping the event with their iPhone. This is going to be powerful stuff... Instant real time news! Unedited! Unrehearsed! Uncensored!

Periscope is used on iPhones and Android phones. Although it works on the iPad too, which is what I use. It's not a webcam app. Webcams are not mobile devices. The whole idea about Periscope is that it's mobile. Load the app and watch for yourself. You'll see the world! I follow one fellow who takes me on tours around Israel, for example.

Thanks for saying you liked my video. Actually, I was so nervous my voice was raspy. But that's to be expected for a first live broadcast. I didn't mind sharing that on YouTube. The problem with the replay is that you don't get to see the comments on the screen left by other viewers. You will see that when you watch live, using the app itself. Periscope also just started embedding the live broadcasts in Twitter feeds so Twitter followers don't need the app to see the broadcasts. By the way, that's another way people find out about the broadcasts. Do you have a Twitter account? You should. You can tweet about your Hubs when you publish something new.

I like your idea about making a short video introduction for one's profile. You're right, it can definitely add to the ability to get to know the person behind the Hubs. You should send that idea to the HubPages team.

Your last question about how would one call attention to a particular live event? That's done the same way as you do with your Hubs. You make a good title! The title is the most important thing to make it clear what your broadcast is about, so people who see your title in their notifications, or on the public list of present live broadcasts, can determine if they want to click on it to watch. I find new people who I want to follow just by examining the public listings once in a while. Then there are a lot of silly things too, that waste time, such as people broadcasting their cat running around the living room. But to each his own.

B. Leekley profile image

B. Leekley 8 months ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

Thanks, Glenn. If I'm ever able to afford a smart phone, I'll get Periscope. If I'd had it a few weeks ago, I'd have live-streamed a climate justice march in downtown Kalamazoo. Another question: If two people in different locations both have Periscope and broadcast to each other at the same time, can Periscope function as a video chat? Ditto if more than two.

Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 8 months ago from Long Island, NY Author

B. Leekley - You can check out Periscope.tv online via the web to watch other broadcasts. You only need a smartphone if you want to do your own broadcasts.

This additional question you just asked is an interesting one. I had to think about that for a while. Periscope is meant for broadcasting a single broadcast to multiple people and any viewer can type comments to the broadcaster. If you tried to do a video chat between two or more people, the other people would not be able to talk back. They could only type back. Two people chatting would each have to use two smartphones. One phone for broadcasting and one for viewing and hearing the other person. It gets more ridiculous with more than two people. So it wouldn't work for video chat. Interesting thought though Brian. If you want to video chat, you can use FaceTime on a smartphone. That's an app for video chat.

FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 8 months ago from USA

I could see great potential for Hubbers who have expertise in crafts, cooking, health, or who want to connect with their followers on recent events like the political election. Or, exploring careers by "interviewing" real people about their jobs in the workplace setting (e.g., what's it really like being a psychologist, veterinarian, nurse, engineer?) and let people ask questions. Your examples of the news anchor and weather person were helpful and I enjoyed watching your first scope! Best of luck!

Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 8 months ago from Long Island, NY Author

FlourishAnyway - Those are very useful ideas of yours Shelly, that other Hubbers can do with live broadcasts. It can add a whole new dimension to their hubs and for their audience. As for interviewing, I was actually thinking of interviewing other Hubbers (local of course) in a live broadcast someday. I still need to get myself going. That first broadcast you watched is the only one I did so far. I guess I need more motivation. lol. Your comments are encouraging. Thanks.

Cyndi10 profile image

Cyndi10 3 months ago from Georgia

This is a really informative hub. I am considering Periscope at some point. I think Twitter has now made it possible to keep your scope. (Is that the correct terminology?) I know others who are using it to enhance their various businesses. One is a minister who broadcasts on a regular basis using Periscope and has built a church following. Very interesting phenomenon.

Thanks for all the useful information. Take care. Cyndi

Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 3 months ago from Long Island, NY Author

Cyndi - Twitter is constantly making improvements with Periscope and you are right that now scopes are kept permanently. They used to be saved only 24 hours. But now you can still delete them yourself if you don't want to save them. But you also have to delete the tweet too, otherwise the tweet will have a blank video. Presently, every improvement they make seems to cause some other side effect. But overall, it's getting better.

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