Is Periscope Business-Worthy, or Just Google Hangouts for Kids?

I recently wrote an article entitled “So What the Heck is Periscope” and, since I wrote it, I now know exactly what it is. Doesn’t mean I like it any better, but at least I understand it. Last week I was discussing social media with David, a digital marketing specialist I know, and mentioned my dislike of the app.

”Ah yes“ he said “Google Hangouts for kids”

And I think he might just have a point.

Periscope was launched in response to that other streaming service I’ve never used – and quite frankly can’t be bothered to even investigate – namely Meerkat and has proved really popular with the chattering classes. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it has no value, I just don’t see its relevance to business yet, if I ever will. To me it’s just a novelty that people will all start playing with because it’s new and, given time, its popularity, after an initial surge, will wain until, like so many other social media platforms, it sinks without a trace.

More importantly, however, I’m not interested because there’s already something out there that does all the things Periscope can do, except it does them better. Much, much better! And that is Google Hangouts on Air.

Now I’m not a great fan of Google either – it has to be said that they dropped an enormous clanger with Google Plus – but they seem to have this whole streaming thing wrapped up.

With Google Hangouts on Air you can stream your event, or anything else you might care to put out there (product promotions, workshops, podcasts, etc.) live to the population at large. People who are in your Google “circles” can join in and anyone with a Gmail address can watch it, just like anyone with a Twitter account can watch something streamed on Periscope and Meerkat. So why do I favour it over all the others, I can hear you asking?

The main advantage of Google Hangouts is that you can schedule an event in advance and can get some sort of marketing funnel built up as a result – press releases, Twitter conversations, etc. – and promote it across a wider range of channels. Most importantly you can, after airing, download it to YouTube so it can be viewed indefinitely and, by those who view it, reposted and marketed all over again.

I’ve been playing around with Google Hangouts for about a year or so and, although I’ve not yet used it to any great extent (unlike so many of my colleagues), I can see its enduring value and the fact that, when I finally get round to using it, it could be a valuable tools for marketing my business. And it’ll also help me add valuable content to my You Tube Channel.

Will I be able to do that with Periscope? In a word, no.

I know of a couple of businesses that have used a Hangout to promote a training workshop where they were able to take payment online with Google wallet. Again, not possible with Periscope. And so far, Periscope has no facility to schedule anything in advance, to be sure of reaching the widest possible audience; you just have to hope that there’s enough people online at the time you’re streaming although unfortunately, you have no control over who these people are and whether or not they are of any value to your business.

Periscope is, as David so succinctly put it “for kids”. So if you want to see what Arnold Schwarzenegger has to say about working with meerkats (the furry variety, not the app), what Jamie Oliver’s cooking up in one of his many kitchens or what your friends are getting up to on holiday then go right ahead and join in. But if you’re trying to promote your business, or educate and inform, then stick to Hangouts.

At least until Periscope grows up a bit.


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