Joanna and I did our first Periscope broadcast last night. Overall we felt like the experience was really great. We had about 6 of our 10 brand-new followers tune in, and had over 50+ people from multiple countries stumble upon our broadcast. Of those 50 our retention rate was around 12%. We have no idea how retention is measured at this point, but it makes sense that that number would be low for a couple of reasons that I will detail a little more below.
Though it is hard to understand exactly what went right and what went wrong about our first Periscope broadcast, I think we were able to make a few good observations that are worth sharing.
- It was super easy! I actually made it more complicated than it needed to be. Here are three helpful suggestions. 1) Set up your account by following these instructions. If at all possible secure the same handle that you use on Twitter. If you choose the sign up using the Twitter option it will make the handle suggestion your Twitter handle automatically if it is still available. Be sure to turn on your location services and Twitter notification to help increase your views. These features are able to be turned on in the broadcast screen. 2) As you can see in the pic above we used a mic clip to hold our iPhone. This is a good low-cost solution, but a clip that doesn’t obstruct the screen in any way is best. We slid it over in the mic clip on our second broadcast so we could see most of the chats. 3) Just use one device during the broadcast and get it as close to you as possible. We decided to use Joanna’s phone to view the chat window and used my phone as the camera. It turns out that Joanna’s phone lagged on comments and it took our focus off of the camera we needed to be looking into. We received a song request that we missed right when we were logging off and decided to go live again after watching our replay video. On our second broadcast we moved the phone closer and moved the phone over to the left in the mic clip we placed it in so we could see the chats. This improved our sound quality and allowed us to respond more quickly with the texts we received. It cut our instruments out of frame a bit, but the tightness of the frame made us look feel more connected to the viewers that hopped back on with us. I accidentally erased our longer replay (ugh!), but you can view our second replay here where we had a tighter shot.
- Pre-promotion didn’t help as much as I expected. Periscope is easy to join, but because a new app has to be downloaded and a registration has to occur some people are going to miss is it. This is a common response to adding a new digital something into a person’s life. When you add to this personal schedules the margin narrows even more. We did get some good shares on Facebook and Twitter, so in that regard there was some good band promotion that happened on a small scale for us. I think more of our followers will join in over time and we will hopefully get new connections from the millions of people who are already on Periscope.
- DSL lite high speed internet seemed to work fine. We live out in the country and DSL is our only high speed internet option. Because I am cheap we opted for the lite connection package at that. Our upload speed is 768 kbps, which is really slow, and we didn’t have any problems broadcasting. We had a few people tell us they kept losing their connection, but I think that had more to do with Periscope’s transmission from the cloud or their internet connection and not our upload speed. I believe this to be true because our playback videos didn’t have any stutter. Our videos were grainy, but I think this is because Periscope has opted for degraded quality in order to keep their video data flowing over low bandwidth connections. The audio quality was really good in our opinion.
- Periscope is a unique outreach opportunity. The strategic design of Periscope made it easy to get people to randomly tune in from anywhere. If you turn on the location services before you scope (that’s what the cool kids call it) a red dot appears in your location. People spin the map and randomly select these dots to see what is happening in the world. I think this is why this is possibly the best online opportunity to sing material that shares the gospel, let’s people know the nature of God as described in the Bible, and offer an opportunity for people to seek to know more about Jesus. Our first broadcast (the one I accidentally erased) was a little on the heavy side. We centered on songs that focused on redemption from our brokenness in light of the Paris attacks. This may have been why our retention rate was low and we are ok with this because it’s what we felt we needed to do. When we hopped back on and sang an upbeat song, we received a lot more hearts (people can cheer you on by tapping the screen and awarding you with hearts) and chat engagement. Learning to walk a balance between entertainment and promoting Jesus will be an important thing to consider for us moving forward. We want to connect people to our ministry if they don’t know Jesus to learn more about Him, and maintain connections with people who are following us. I think both can be accomplished through this medium as we learn more about our audience over time.
- Don’t be afraid to do it afraid. During our first broadcast I felt nervous. I missed a couple of words, notes, and chords. Most of this happened trying to look at texts, wondering why we weren’t getting much feedback, being self conscious, or from being stabbed by Joanna’s cello bow. On our second broadcast we hopped back on and sang a comfortable fun song. We were much more relaxed and I’m sure it helped our viewers relax too. Our feedback improved. I’m ok with all of it. Sometimes we have to do it afraid to get to a comfort zone. If you feel uncomfortable the first time don’t let it get to you. You’ll get used to it. Watching your replay may be painful, but it will help you adjust your next time. In fact, the ability to watch yourself on video is incredible useful in shaping your body language, and that shaping will only help you communicate and connect better in any performance setting.
- In the future your followers will be notified instantly when you go online. It is probably good to have a regular reliable time for people to tune in, but you can do stuff randomly whenever you want and people will jump on with you. That will make for some fun opportunities in the future!
I hope you were able to glean a little from our experience. If you do a Periscope or Meerkat broadcast in the future or have some things you’ve learned from your experiences already, please share them with us in the comments below!