If you’re unfamiliar with Periscope, it’s an app (for iOS and Android) that allows you to live stream video to strangers and your Twitter followers from your phone or tablet. Viewers can comment and “heart” live streams as they watch, to interact with the broadcaster.
Alternatively, Meerkat, another similar live streaming app for phones and tablets, has also taken the internet by storm.
Periscope (left) and Meerkat (right)
Periscope and Meerkat are not new opportunities to sell your products like you have been doing on Facebook or Pinterest. These new mobile live streaming tools provide a different opportunity to build your ecommerce business and create relationships with your customers. I’ll explain why this is important in the next section.
For the sake of simplicity, this blog post will focus on Periscope, but the concepts and suggestions on how to use Periscope to help grow your ecommerce business can also be applied to Meerkat. I will also go over why and how you can use Periscope for your ecommerce business as well as provide you six actionable ways to help get you started.
Why use periscope and why “live stream”?
Periscope is another platform for people to find you. It’s certainly possible that if you put out consistent, high quality content, you’ll build an audience on Periscope. This principle holds true for any platform, not just Periscope.
You can also use mobile live streaming to build your brand and build your relationship with your fans and customers. In Dr. Robert Cialdini’s book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, he states that people are more likely to be persuaded by (or say “yes” to) people that they like. Periscope allows you to form that pleasing relationship with your customer.
Periscope also offers an interesting new way to build a community around your brand by giving them an unedited and raw look at your business. This new way of building a community allows for much higher engagement. What’s better than real-time feedback from your customers to give them instant-gratification?
Lastly, it’s another opportunity for you to tell your brand’s story. You get to take your audience along with you on your journey. If you’re already telling your brand’s story on a blog or social media, Periscope is an additional tool in your brand building arsenal.
Before we get into the meat, one quick thing
Consider being an early adopter. If you're selling a very competitive product, just being the first to adopt a new platform can give you the opportunity to gain an edge over your competition. For example, Business Insider looked at the top consumer brands and looked at their join date on Twitter, and their number of followers to determine that the “early adopter effect” had a significant impact on audience size.
If you only take away one thing from this blog post, it’s that I want you to always be an early adopter and not afraid to test new things for your business and brand that can potentially reach a wider or newer audience.
If you’re skeptical of Periscope, just think back to every other new platform when it was first introduced. Many people, including businesses and brands, thought Twitter and microblogging was a silly idea. Imagine how those critics are kicking themselves now for not adopting Twitter early.
Jumping on a platform early that has so much potential can transform and grow your business. It will be a lot easier for you to find an audience on a new platform while there is still little competition and a growing user base seeking new content providers.
6 Ways to use periscope to grow your ecommerce business
1. Q and A session
Grant Cardone, motivational speaker and author, does a live Q and A with his fans.
This is the easiest broadcast to start off with to not only get you comfortable with using Periscope but also getting used to being in front of a live audience. A quick Q and A session is an excellent ice breaker and a great way for you to introduce yourself and your business to your audience.
You can keep it light and have a fun Q and A that can relate to your ecommerce business or not. A great place to start might be to take the most frequently asked questions you get from your customers online and answer them. Don’t be afraid to show your personality and become more relatable through your Q and A.
2. Behind the scenes
A merchant gives a behind the scenes tour of their concession stand.
Giving your customers a “behind the scenes” live stream of your ecommerce business not only builds trust through transparency, but also allows your customers to develop a relationship with you and your business by seeing the inner-workings of what your ecommerce business does. According to Fortune, being transparent can deepen customer loyalty.
Take your phone and pull back the curtain on your business. For example, let your customers see how your products are manufactured or give them a glimpse into your daily routine, including allowing Periscope viewers to sit it on a meeting.
Do you have a brick and mortar business? Stream your interaction with your customers in your store and let them share their positive experience with your brand.
3. Product showcasing/demonstrations
Live unboxing and demo of a new Motorola phone.
Want to show off a new product your ecommerce store will be selling? Want to introduce a new product feature or simply show how a product works? A live broadcast with a product showcase or demonstration is an excellent way to educate customers on your products and demonstrate product quality.
It also doesn’t need to be pitchy or salesy. Have fun with it, make it an event and build up anticipation before you go live. Especially when you’re launching a new product or feature, it’s important to build up excitement, not hype. You don’t want to turn off your audience, you want to engage them.
Obviously, the quality of a live stream from a mobile device will be lower, so keep that in mind. The focus of your product showcase or demonstration should be to educate your customers, get feedback and build excitement.
4. Personalized customer experience
Broadcasting a quick bass guitar lesson from the Teach Yourself Advanced Bass book.
Go 1 on 1 with your customers and provide that above and beyond service experience with Periscope. Now with mobile live streaming, you can take live customer support to a whole other level.
Whether that means walking a customer through a process live through Periscope, or having a customer appreciation stream where you run a giveaway or contest. The more creative you are, the more you will stand out and be memorable. For example, if your business sells bass guitars and bass guitar gear, inviting customers and fans to watch a quick bass guitar lesson is a unique customer experience.
If you don’t see a need for providing this kind of customer support or experience, invite your customers to join you in a broadcast where you ask them questions and get real-time customer feedback on your products and business. You can begin to pull a lot of useful information from your customers to help you improve your business and product. The real-time feedback that Periscope enables, allows you to follow up with more questions and make the most out of your customers’ feedback.
Even Periscope users that are not customers can give you some insight. For example, if your business sells snowboards, start a Periscope broadcast titled “Snowboarding fans get in here!”. From here, you can start asking viewers questions such as “what brands do you buy?”, “where do you buy your equipment?”, and “what is a product you wish more stores that carry snowboards, sold?”.
5. Sell the lifestyle
A traveling Periscoper, broadcasting his take off from the inside of an airplane.
If your product or ecommerce business revolves around a lifestyle, live it and show it on Periscope. For example, if your ecommerce business sells luggage and travel backpacks, Periscope your travels and adventures. If your ecommerce business sells skateboards, broadcast yourself at a skate park.
Here’s where you have the opportunity to tell your brand’s story. If you’re really passionate about your niche and industry, sharing that passion over Periscope will be easy for you and it will resonate with your audience. Plus, it will help sell your products in a way that doesn’t require you to be overtly salesy.
6. Live events
Broadcasting the Shopify Retail Tour event on Periscope.
If you already hold or plan to run offline events, Periscope can bridge the gap and bring your offline events online. Even broadcasting events you attend in your industry that your customers would receive a lot of value from are a great idea.
You also don’t need to limit this to events. Anything from conferences, concerts or seminars can be good fodder for Periscope if it adds value and is interesting to your audience and customers.
Proper periscope etiquette for businesses
Because Periscope is still such a new platform, there aren’t any real clear best practices for businesses and brands. Still, I think it’s important to share some tips from my own practical experience with the platform and using similar platforms.
In general, it’s best to be candid and greet every new viewer to the stream by their handle or name (if possible). Every time you address a user or answer a question, say their name! Using someone’s name during a live broadcast makes them feel good about themselves and it’s polite.
Create anticipation by announcing your live Periscope stream a few days before you go live by using other platforms where you already have an existing audience, such as on your blog or on Twitter. It’s okay to be spontaneous as well since your Twitter followers will see when you’ve gone live and they can jump in at any time during your broadcast. Still, it’s a good idea to generate buzz around your upcoming broadcast through your other established platforms.
Be sure to be open with your viewers and respond to any questions. Avoiding a question by ignoring it (especially if it is repeated) is a lot worse than simply addressing the question with a “no comment”.
It’s a good idea to orient your phone in the portrait position instead of landscape when you’re broadcasting. If you broadcast in landscape, your Periscope stream will be in landscape but the messages on the screen will not, making it very awkward for users to watch your broadcast. Because you’re on your phone and your viewers are likely watching your broadcast from their phone, keep the broadcast short. It doesn’t need to be longer than 15 minutes to hold people’s attention on Periscope.
Because you are using Periscope through Twitter, use hashtags in your broadcast title! Using hashtags will help increase your findability on Twitter and it also makes your broadcasts stand out a little more. Here are some suggestions:
Better yet, use emojis in your broadcast titles to help your Periscope broadcasts stand out.
Lastly, remember that your broadcasts on Periscope are automatically saved as “replays”. You can choose to remove this replay after your broadcast ends if you don’t want users to be able to watch a recording of the broadcast after it ends.
Now that you have a better understanding of what Periscope is and how you can use it for your ecommerce business, go ahead and download the app and play around with it! Like I suggested earlier, make your first broadcast a Q and A to break the ice and just have fun.
Let me know how you plan to use Periscope for your business in the comments below. Also, if you have any questions about Periscope or Meerkat, let me know as well in the comments below. If you know anyone that should be using Periscope or Meerkat, share this blog post with them!