What is Periscope?

In Social Media by UFSocial Staff

by UFSocial contributor Mackenzie Puryear

Take a second and think about our current culture of social media.  The selfie phase, Instagram, Facebook, taking pictures of daily routines and immediately uploading them for the world (or at least your friends) to see.

It has become so commonplace to take pictures and broadcast daily routines, so what is next? What next big social media “thing” will take the stage?  Live streaming video apps.

These apps are not only being used by individuals, but also by brands.  Top companies and sports teams are using apps such as Periscope to raise brand awareness and actively engage with the audience.

So, now you are wondering, what exactly is Periscope?

Periscope is a mobile app (available for iPhone and Android) that lets users live stream whatever is happening around them for everyone who wants to see.  It was founded in February 2014 by Kayvon Beykpour and co-founder Joe Bernstein.

BusinessInsider.com describes that the two developed the idea while traveling in Istanbul in 2013.  When protests broke out in Taksim Square, Beykpour turned to Twitter to see what was happening.  However, he was disappointed in the fact that he could only read about the protests instead of being able to actually see what was happening real time.

Twitter then bought Periscope and Niche (a talent agency that connects brands with viral sensations on social media apps) for $86.6 million in 2015. Furthermore, Periscope is an active app, as opposed to other video apps such as ‘YouTube,’ which are passive.

Periscope allows users to comment, ask questions, as well as send ‘hearts’ to the broadcaster in real time. Similar to Twitter, Periscope users create an account/username in which others can follow and watch broadcasts whenever they are posted.

Some key features include, hearts and notifications. Hearts, similar to ‘hearting’ a photo on Instagram, are sent to the broadcaster from the viewer to show gratitude and love for the broadcast.  However, different from Instagram, Periscope broadcasters can receive more than one heart from the same viewer on one single video.

Another important feature includes push notifications.  Similar to other mobile social media apps that notify the ‘poster’ when someone has liked or commented on a picture; Periscope sends notifications to the viewer when a broadcast of a person they follow has started.

In addition, Periscope broadcasters can recommend a follower to watch their video.  In this case, a push notification will be sent to that person so they can view it real time.

For further information on how to use the Periscope app, this website gives a great step by step tutorial starting with how to download the app on both iPhone and Android as well as going through how to use each function within the app.

Competitors include: Facebook Live, YouNow.

Who Uses Periscope (Target Market)? 

Check out this link that gives fantastic statistics of Periscope users from 2015.  There are 10 million users total. 29% of the URLs are posted by women and 75% of users are between the ages of 16-34.  

How Brands Use the Channel?

Digiday.com claims that Twitter has stated, “Brands can forge a more personal relationship with consumers by using Periscope to give them real-time access to moments that matter, from big announcements to fashion shows to sponsored events.”

For example, Red Bull was one of the first brands to take advantage of Periscope.  They used Periscope to engage customers in special events they were having.  In particular, Red Bull used Periscope to go behind the scenes at the exclusive ‘Red Bull Guest House Event’ in Miami, FL.  Click here to visit the Red Bull website advertising the live streaming of the House Event.

Furthermore, The Green Bay Packers first connected with fans using Periscope during a rivalry game with the Chicago bears.  The broadcast was such a success that the Packers have been using Periscope ever since for many different games.

What is the Business Model for the Channel?

I would argue that, from a business perspective, the most important quality of Periscope is the ability that the app has to build a personal relationship between the company and the consumer.

Twitter encourages brands to promote Periscope videos with ‘paid tweets,’ or in other words, paying for ad space on twitter to market the brands using Periscope.  For example, Doritos used Periscope when trying to draw attention to its new ‘Roulette’ chip.

Doritos created a game (using Periscope and Twitter) called #DoritosRoulette.  This contest included many online games in which the consumer could win many prizes, but only after the customer tagged three social media buddies.

Periscope (and Twitter) allowed Doritos to build a personal and fun relationship with the consumer while simultaneously spreading the brand across all social media outlets.

Finally, Periscope has many strengths and a few weaknesses


  • Actively engage and educate audience on brand/product. Through the active discussion that can take place during a broadcast on Periscope, it allows brands to actively engage while educating the audience on the product.
  • For example, Benefit Cosmetics used Periscope to demonstrate how to apply their makeup products.  Viewers could learn more about each product, ask questions, and see how each item is applied.
  • Similarly, EA Sports used Periscope to let consumers watch behind the scenes footage of Q&A with NFL stars such as Odell Beckham Jr., and Patrick Peterson. Viewers could also ask questions and interact with EA during this time.
  • Customers can see behind the scenes footage of a company or sports team.  Similar to the EA Sports example used above, consumers were able to watch a behind the scenes interview with NFL stars and how the interview influenced the making of the video games.


  • Quality of the live stream is a continuous issue. Sometimes the footage will glitch and the fact that all of it is filmed on a mobile phone proves it will not be of the highest quality.
  • Invasion of Privacy- Periscope gives the exact location of where every broadcast is taking place. While a user can make the broadcast private, it is something that the user has to do manually.  So, without changing any settings to the app then every broadcast is set to public which means that viewers can tell the exact location of where the broadcaster is.  This could lead to some safety issues, especially for younger uses.

In closing, it is imperative for brands to keep up with the social media trends to not only stay competitive, but also to rise above the competition.  Periscope is a great live streaming app for brands to use to raise awareness and engage with its customers and fans.  I hope you enjoyed learning more about Periscope and will not hesitate to try it out for yourself and your company!

About the Author

UFSocial Staff