Periscope for Nonprofits – live streaming for impact

Periscope, the live video-streaming app, has caught a lot of attention since its launch in March 2015. Within just 4 months, it has surpassed 10 million users and over 40 years’ worth of video is being watched every day.

Periscope gives people a chance to connect with organizations and built stronger relationships. What makes Periscope different from other live streaming tools is that users are able to chat whenever they are live streaming, adding an extra level of engagement and opening up two-way conversations. Many famous brands are using Periscope to engage their audiences. GE has used Periscope for a takeover by Baltimore Ravens player John Urschel; cosmetic brand Benefit frequently engages its community on Periscope by hosting Q&As and lives makeup tutorials; Victoria’s Secret will live stream its fashion show on Periscope in December.

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Now, you may be thinking: “it’s a great platform for consumer brands and big companies, but how can my nonprofit use it?” We know being understaffed and underfunded are the main limitations for nonprofits to dig into new technology. So we gave it a try for you, and we think Periscope is doable for most nonprofits. The key is selecting the right event and the right time to broadcast.

Here are just a few steps to get you live.

Connect your Twitter Account

Twitter purchased Periscope before its first launch – this backing gives Periscope a competitive edge compared to competitors like Meerkat. You can use your Twitter credentials and all your information will transfer over to the new platform. When you log on, you’ll see a list of all your Twitter followers. All you need to do is to click the button to follow them on Periscope.

Consider Timing

Since your Periscope account is connected to your Twitter account, you may want to take a look at your Twitter account to find out when your audiences are already engaged with your posts. Schedule your live streams at a time when you know your followers will be available and interested in tuning in. Even if some of your followers miss the live stream, Periscope will save your videos to the app for 24 hours afterwards by default – a good window for post-stream follow-up and promotion.

Make the Video “Visible”

You also need to think of a catchy title for your video before live streaming. Your title may describe what your video is and why people should either tune in now or replay your stream later (it will be available for up to 24 hours). Videos are shown to the public in the “LIVE” section, where everyone, even those who are not your followers, can view it. This gives you the opportunity to attract a new audience of non-followers to participate. A nice title will also catch followers’ attention when the live stream information pops up on their locked screens.

You can use Twitter sharing functions to share videos with your followers. The tweet follows the format: LIVE on #Periscope: [Video Title] [Link to Video], and your audiences can view the video in 24 hours. Remember to turn the “Location Sharing” function on for even more visibility.

Be Prepared for Live Broadcast

Even if the live streaming is spontaneous and casual, you’ll still want to keep in mind these tips to make it high-quality:

    • Use a tripod.
    • Choose a nice background. For example, if you do a Q&A session, you may put up your company’s poster as the background. Background noise is easily picked up by microphones and you’ll want to make sure that you’re in a relatively controlled environment.
    • Get everything ready before hitting “Broadcast Now”. Think about how disruptive it is if the live broadcasting has started and your fans are waiting, but you are still adjusting equipment. We suggest creating another Periscope account of your own and practicing before doing the live stream.
    • The title of the video can only be submitted just before you start streaming, so make sure you’ve prepared your title and are ready to type it in as you go live.

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Interact with Followers in Real Time

People who are watching your live video can “like” and make comments. The “likes” show up as a series of hearts appearing on the right side of the screen. You may want to assign another person to man the reigns and reply to them while you continue the live stream. Don’t forget to interact with your Twitter fans if they make comments or like your live streaming tweet as well.

Evaluate the Results

Once the video ends, the app lets you see how many live viewers you had, how many viewers replayed your video, and how many hearts you received. You can make a record of the data and set it as benchmark for future Periscope streams. Meanwhile, you can also take a look at your Google Analytics to see whether there is new traffic to certain pages of your site related to the content you just broadcasted on Periscope, or whether people take meaningful actions like signing up for your newsletter or donating to your cause. This is the best way to calculate the “ROI” of your investment in this new platform.

Now, you understand how Pericope works and the ways it can be used to grow your nonprofit impact. Start by downloading the app and creating your Pericope account today – here are 6 ideas to get you started.


 Want to learn more about social media for nonprofits? Check out our newest Whole Whale University course! We’ll teach you how to drive nonprofit impact using engagement data and how to be your own social media guru.