World Leaders on Periscope
Like other new and popular social media platforms, Periscope has captured the essence of “discovering the world through someone else’s eyes”. Although broadcasting live from a mobile device is not new, Periscope, an app owned by Twitter, has made it far easier to communicate directly with your followers and read their comments in real time.
The new-found popularity of live streaming, which was cemented by Facebook’s recent live broadcasting function, started in 2008. At that time, the Qik software allowed you to stream live video from your Nokia cell phone and see the live comments on the tiny screen. Other platforms such as Livestream and YouTube offered live broadcasting features in 2008 and 2010, respectively and, in May 2013, Google+ introduced Hangouts on Air, allowing people to broadcast any event in high-definition with live interaction by viewers via video or text.
The Periscope app, launched on March 26, 2015, makes the process much easier and allows users to alert their entire Twitter community about the live broadcast.
Periscope, which has more than 10 million registered users and claims more than 200 million broadcasts after only one year in operation, has become the go-to social network for breaking news.
During the terrorist attacks at Brussels airport on March 22, 2016, traditional broadcast journalists flocked to Periscope to find live- streamed videos and first-hand reports of the aftermath of the blasts.
Over the past year, 93 governments and world leaders have downloaded the app, representing a third of all UN member countries. Sixty-two governments and world leaders have gone live from a mobile device and 31 governments have taken the initial step of setting up a channel, primarily to reserve their name.
The defining feature of Periscope, arguably one of its major drawbacks, is that the broadcasts disappear after only 24 hours and it’s necessary to save and upload the recording to another video platform for it to be available for posterity.
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has the most followed Periscope channel, with more than 90,000 followers, after having only posted six live broadcasts in the summer of 2015. The White House is in second place with 81,000 followers and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff is in third place with 76,000 followers.
French President François Hollande and Jordan’s Queen Rania complete the top five list of the most followed accounts, but neither have yet gone live on their personal accounts and have no hearts to show.
Latin American leaders seem to be the most active on Periscope and you can often catch broadcasts of speeches and statements from Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, the Mexican Presidency, Mexico's Foreign Minister Claudia Ruiz Massieu, as well as the government of Puerto Rico.
The presidency of Paraguay has the highest engagement rate on its Periscope channel. The channel has a double-digit engagement rate of 11 percent, when dividing the number of likes by its 467 followers.
The White House inaugurated its Periscope channel with a live broadcast of Pope Francis arriving for an official visit to the United States on September 22, 2015. More than 11,000 viewers tuned in to watch the Pope greeting the Obama family on the tarmac of Andrews Air Force Base in Washington D.C., and the Periscope account gained 3,800 followers in the process. However, the White House has not gone live since, only promoting several Q&A sessions with presidential advisor Valerie Jarrett on her own Periscope channel.
The White House channel also has become the most liked Periscope channel, collecting almost a quarter of a million likes during its papal broadcast. To like a broadcast, viewers simply tap the screen of their mobile devices and the likes fly into the picture in the form of hearts from the bottom right hand side.
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff is in second place with more than 350,000 hearts for her 33 live broadcasts. Her social media team has perfected the art of broadcasting, positioning the mobile device close to the speaker in order to have better audio.
So far world leaders have used Periscope mainly to broadcast press conferences and speeches. The Presidency of Paraguay consistently scopes all of its press conferences and the Russian Foreign Ministry broadcasts the weekly press briefing of spokeswoman Maria Zakharova.
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has received almost 100,000 hearts on his three live broadcasts from his swearing-in ceremony on November 4, 2015 and from his press conference with Barack Obama in the Rose Garden of the White House on March 10, 2016. The British government went live when David Cameron made his first speech in front of 10 Downing Street after his re-election on May 8, 2015. His most recent post was the lighting of the Christmas tree on December 13, 2015, which he also shared on Vine.
However, no world leader has yet taken any questions via Periscope or organized a live Q&A session to answer questions popping up directly on the Periscope screen.
By default, comments on Periscope are open and so anyone can interact and leave a comment unless the stream is too full. Several recent broadcasts by the French President, who was among the first to use the platform in January 2015, were deluged by negative comments and insults and the social media reporter was kept busy blocking overly offensive users. The French President’s critics then switched tactics and flooded the live broadcast with useless comments, effectively blocking out most of the video feed and rendering the broadcast virtually useless. Periscope users can limit the comment function to allow only comments from users they follow on Twitter before going live. However, the French presidency’s social media team has decided to leave comments open on future broadcasts, in particular given that broadcasts disappear after 24 hours.
Remember your first image will be the default cover shot and make sure to have optimal sound and video quality, or viewers will almost certainly complain. The Presidency of Honduras was swamped with comments about the abysmal video quality during a broadcast of the arrival of Columbian President Juan Manuel Santos.
Within minutes, you can expect to see viewers watching the broadcast live. Obviously, the more followers someone has on Twitter, the greater the chance of attracting viewers. Some viewers will show appreciation in the form of hearts, others will comment on your broadcast in real time. Don't ignore questions that are posted into the broadcast. Instead, be sure to address them and say hello.
In a nutshell, Periscope offers the perfect conversational tool, best suited for unscripted live Q&A sessions with your viewers and followers.
Periscope’s aim is to build the “closest thing to teleportation”. For many governments it is currently the best and most cost effective way to transmit live broadcasts of their activities.
World Leaders on Periscope is Burson-Marsteller's latest research into how world leaders, governments and international organizations communicate via social media. The research builds on Burson-Marsteller's highly acclaimed annual Twiplomacy study, now in its fifth year. Initially focused solely on Twitter, the 2016 study has been expanded to other social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and more niche digital diplomacy platforms such as Snapchat, LinkedIn, Google+ and Vine.
Burson-Marsteller has identified a total of Periscope channels of governments and world leaders. Data was collected on April 22, 2016 and the full Excel data table can be downloaded here.
Thank you to Matthias Lüfkens for his ongoing strategic guidance on Twiplomacy and the World Leaders on Social Media series.