Earlier this year Periscope hit the mainstream and much discussion soon followed about it and Meerkat. Both apps allow users to stream live video from a mobile and were being declared the latest important advances in social media tools for activists and journalists. Ideas swirled about how they could be used to provide exciting live documentation for all sorts of important stories.
For many community journalists and activists, building meaningful audience for live coverage remains a huge challenge. The vast majority of current Periscope and Meerkat users are just there for fun, though you can bet the numbers will continue to grow in size and interests. Some practical tips for building audience and using the tools more professionally are already beginning to emerge.
The services that each app provides around its live coverage differ ––app extras, the ability to schedule events and how videos are saved, for example. Periscope, recently acquired by Twitter, seems to be beating out Meerkat in the marketplace at the moment. You need to figure out which works best for you.
No matter the tool, as you begin to explore or work to hone what you already know, here are some quick tips to help you get the most out of it:
Promote your event -- As with any social media tool, you need to get the word out about your event prior to going live. Become part of the social community related to your topic. Build a presence on Twitter, Facebook and Youtube. Post your event through comments or a hashtag where you know you have a potential audience. Be sure to engage people in discussion about your issue rather than just announce your coverage plan. Partnerships with individuals or organizations that can bring in viewers are also helpful.
Coordinate between platforms -- This is an emerging trend throughout the social media sphere. Here is an example: New York Times Lens Blog co-founders James Estrin and David Gonzalez recently did a walking photo tour in the Bronx, New York, with a group of photographers interested in public art and graffiti. They streamed portions of the walk with Periscope and pointed viewers to content in a related Instagram feed, building great audience for both current and future projects on two platforms.
Respond to comments -- Live mobile video coverage itself is not new. What is new is the ability to engage your audience directly through comments while streaming. Don’t dismiss this feature. Respond to comments and maybe even adjust your coverage plan accordingly: what do people want to see? What questions do they want answered? Let your audience influence your coverage plan.
The rules of good video production apply -- The visual culture of these tools definitely favors vertical video. No matter which way you hold your device, your video should be stable. As much as possible plan your coverage and compose your shots carefully. If you pan, pan sparingly and pan slowly. And, of course, think through what you need to do to ensure good audio quality. NOTE: Some live events, such as speeches or rallies might be shot as a series of clips rather than as a long, continuous feed.
These are just a few ideas to get you started with live mobile video. Don’t be afraid to try out your own ideas even even if they take you in a very different direction than you anticipated. We’ll keep sharing our thoughts and experiences. Please share with us any examples of ideas that work for you