5 things for public services to think about when using Periscope

How might public services use Periscope? In this guest post, Will Barker, Project Support Officer (Social Media & Digital), 1000 Lives Improvement, looks at ways that we could use the app.


Persicope is a new live streaming app that is linked with Twitter – it’s just over a month old and already it has been sighted as a game-changer in the way social media effects broadcast news, and the next big platform to come along since Twitter.

It works simply by choosing what you want to broadcast, setting a broadcast stream title and clicking ‘broadcast’ this then links with your Twitter stream and your twitter followers can join the broadcast, as well as anyone around the world who is interested in what you are showing.

As with all new technology and social platforms, we have to take these statements with a pinch of salt – many thought that Vine was the app to tick this box, but it has taken a different path to what was first expected. Nevertheless, it is worth exploring how the public sector could potentially use this live streaming app to their benefit, particularly whilst there is still a lot of intrigue around it.

Forums, events and conferences

This could be one of your own, or one that you are attending/ have a stand at. Often, the aim is to ‘join the conversation’ using the conference hashtag. Perhaps Periscope could be used to shape a conversation or create new ones, beyond tweeting each other. Want to discuss key topics and highlights from the day, why not set up a broadcast that does just that, almost like a panel session. At 1000 Lives Improvement (@1000LivesPlus), we did exactly this. At a recent conference, we gave highlights and interviews with our staff via Periscope about what learning they had taken away from sessions, we think it gave an extra element to those following us on Twitter who couldn’t be there.

Question and Answer

Keep getting the same questions asked via your social media channels, or simply have the opportunity to get some key experts in their field in the same room? Through live streaming via Periscope you have an opportunity to answer important questions in more depth and more immediately. You must keep in mind that, though, that if you do open yourself up for a Q&A session, you are open for all types of questions, so it’s worth setting some house rules in place, for example: ‘today we’ll be discussing these set topics, for answers around other topics, you can reach us here’.

Important news

More and more we are seeing people, news outlets and organisations turning to Twitter to break important news. Why not use Periscope? You can keep control exactly what you’re saying, put it across in more than 140 characters and still get the benefit of reaching your audience online. It’s worth noting that with the size of audience that Periscope is bringing, and with it being so new, this type of communication shouldn’t be in isolation, as the majority of the audience is likely to miss it.

Open meetings

Got a planning meeting that isn’t sensitive and would really benefit from input outside of your organisation? Why not open it up to get the thoughts of people across the world, you never know; someone’s suggestion could be the start of your solution.

Showing the work being done/getting behind the scenes

Behind the scenes has been used a lot on Periscope already. Whether it’s the BBC showing behind the scenes of The Voice UK Live Finals, various news organisations giving behind the scenes footage of their election coverage or Cardiff Council giving viewers a guided tour of the RHS Flower Show before it opened. Giving your audience something they wouldn’t get anywhere else is a real perk of Periscope, so why not think about how that could translate to your organisation or project?

Remember what’s out there. Take a look around.

Periscope may be new and exciting to many, but remember that live streaming has been around for many years. It’s worth taking a look around at what else is out there to make sure you are using the right platform for your requirements. With periscope only being (currently) available on iOS devices, linking with Twitter and broadcasting in portrait, is it the right platform to reach your audience, or would other live streaming products like Bambuser fit better? Not to mention the rival to Periscope: the live streaming app called Meerkat, but that’s a whole other story.

There is plenty out there for you to read about Periscope (and Meerkat) for you to make your own mind up, so go and have a look – and if you can, start experimenting with how you might use it in your organisation.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on using Periscope in the public sector, or how you’ve got on if you already have used it. Leave a comment below or tweet me @willdotbarker.


  1. Hi Will, thanks for this, it’s something we at the National Assembly have been looking into using. As a public sector organisation there are certain language and accessibility requirements we have to comply with, how should this impact on how we use Periscope in your opinion?

    Also Periscope vs Meerkat – your thoughts?

    Cheers Will, keep up the good work!

    • Really interesting points here Kev. In terms of WAO, everything that is hosted on our site is transcribed and translated. If we were to embed it on our website, we’d be bound to do the same, but if it was an off the cuff interview with someone who only spoke English and it wasn’t hosted on our site, we wouldn’t be bound by the same rules. However, we would try and make it as inclusive as possible, maybe by introducing the video in Welsh, and possibly referring to other resources that would be available in the person’s language of choice or been transcribed. Not sure if that’s any help?

      In terms of Meerkat v Periscope, Periscope only became available on Android yesterday, so I’m still messing about with it. It’d be good to have a chat about the potential of it the next time we meet up!


    • Think the points Dyfrig have made are great and would mirror those. I think dependant on what requirements you have, what your social media policy dictates (assuming any external communications to be bilingual?) and what you are trying to achieve with the broadcast, you can work out the best solution; whether that’s hosting a broadcast at different times on the same subject for English and then Welsh language or broadcasting bilingually and inviting bilingual questions/conversations to be happening. If you look at this in terms of events, how do you manage bilingual content there – could you transfer that thinking? As Dyfrig said, there is a chance to transcribe and translate when you upload to YouTube, but you do miss the live element of broadcasting if that’s the option you choose.

      Overall, I think it’s too early to be able to give a solid answer, because there aren’t many people using it that have to consider these issues (annoyingly). It’s early days and I think the best option is to experiment and find out if, firstly, your audience values it as a platform and it benefits your social presence and then from that you may find a more natural solution crops up, alternatively you experiment, take stock and decide to go one way with it.

      As for Periscope vs Meerkat – again it’s early days, but for me the advantage lies with Periscope, with Twitter on their side Twitter, any direct competitors like Meerkat are always going to get a worse off deal. Add on that the fact that so many news organisations are spending more of their time on Periscope, it looks to me as though Periscope will dominate, but really – who knows?!

      Would love to hear how you’re thinking of using Periscope and/or Meerkat and share some more ideas, sure there’s lots we can learn from you guys.

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