5 ways brands are using Periscope

Live streaming app Periscope attracted a range of brands almost immediately when it launched in March. Nearly six months in, the Twitter-owned live streaming app has been downloaded 10 million times — making it an attractive space for brands to experiment in.

Periscope, which gives users 24 hours to catch a live stream and encourages engagement through likes, provides brands new opportunities to interact with their audiences in real time. Twitter is going all out to encourage brands to try it out, outlining the best ways for them to use Periscope in a post in June. “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,” the post said.

“The ‘high stakes’ nature of live content puts more pressure on brands and agencies to have their strategy and process in lock step, which is always good,” said John Sampogna, co-founder and managing director at Wondersauce. “We’re also following a ‘when it makes sense’ strategy and not forcing it into weekly or monthly content calendars, but rather using it when both the brand and agency are genuinely excited.”

A variety of brands from Coach to GE and Taco Bell have dabbled in the platform, some offering its fans exclusive, behind-the-scenes footage and some hosting question-and-answer sessions. Here’s what appears to be working for brands so far:

Sneak-peeks into exclusive events
Automaker Nissan streamed the unveiling of its 2016 Maxima model at the New York auto show, which helped the automaker build buzz and extend its reach. Target drew attention to its Lilly Pulitzer line in a push that fueled such a huge consumer demand that 90 percent of the collection sold out in a few days.

“Target’s always looking for new ways to connect with our guests,” said Jessica Carlson, a Target spokesperson. “Through social media and, most recently, through Periscope, we’ve been able to give guests a peek behind the curtains of our design partnerships. We’re looking forward to bringing even more to guests through Periscope during New York Fashion Week and beyond.”

Announcements of products and special offers
While regular promotional tweets by brands might get buried under Twitter’s deluge, Periscope audiences may be more receptive to any information that brands want to share since they themselves choose to tune in. Taco Bell cracked this one when it hosted a mock press conference about its new breakfast menu item and the associated “Breakfast Defector Day.” The brand invited its fans to stop by Taco Bell on Cinco de Mayo to enjoy a free “Biscuit Taco.”

Celebrity takeovers
Celebrity “takeovers” on Twitter and Reddit have been around for a while. But its sheer broadcasting capability, high engagement and low cost make Periscope a very attractive platform for brands. JCPenney hosted Eva Longoria in its first Periscope stream in April, who introduced fans to her new JCPenney bedding collection and answered their questions from an exclusive launch event held in Los Angeles.

“Applications like Periscope allow a brand (or person) to create an urgency in the content they are creating — viewers tune in ‘live’ and need to do so right away, or they’ll likely miss it,”  Sean Ryan, director of social and mobile marketing at JCPenney, told Digiday.

Live Q&As
San Francisco-based makeup brand Benefit Cosmetics frequently engages its community on Periscope by hosting both Q&As and live makeup tutorials with its own experts as well as influencers. They have been pretty successful, with an average of more than 2,000 live viewers tuning in to a stream. The most recent session received over 19,700 hearts.

“The best part about Periscope is that we’re able to recreate that very intimate experience of being in one of our boutiques digitally,” said Claudia Allwood, director of digital marketing for Benefit in the U.S.

Inside looks into a brand’s culture
One of the first ways in which brands like DKNY used Periscope was to take their fans on “Inside” tours, introducing them to the faces behind the brand. GE used drones equipped with Periscope on guided tours through remote facilities as a part of #Droneweek last month.

“When you give people a peek behind the curtain, they fall in love with the company,” said Sam Olstein, GE’s director of innovation. Apart from #Droneweek, GE has also used Periscope for a takeover by Baltimore Ravens player John Urschel and for a chess demo with World Champion Magnus Carlsen to highlight the connection between chess and the brain.