They came from Russia, Germany, Ireland, Australia and all across the United States: a new type of entertainer with devoted fans and the attention of advertisers. Twitter's extended CEO search may be keeping it in limbo, but Periscope, the live video service it purchased in January, is quietly building an ecosystem of pros, not unlike the early days of YouTube.
“The Periscope community loves each other. These people haven’t met in real life until yesterday, but it feels like a reunion," said Ryan Bell, who organized the first Periscope Summit this week in New York's Harlem neighborhood.
When Australian photographer and surfer Mitch Oates heard about it, he found himself short of personal funds for an intercontinental flight. But with a social network of thousands, Oates reached out to his followers to support a GoFundMe page. On Instagram, he received zero donations and few comments about his plea. But on Periscope, his community pitched in, congratulated him for his "'scoping" and wished him best at the conference.
— Ⓜ@ⓡⓨ (@TxSummerBreeze) September 20, 2015
— Tammy (@LTammy002435) September 17, 2015
— Mitch oates (@lifeatseaphoto) September 12, 2015
Oates’ campaign is evidence that Twitter’s Periscope is becoming an intimate and appreciated community, perhaps benefiting from its novelty. These first adopters have formed close relationships with their viewers.
"My followers [on Periscope] are following my life with no filters, not the photos I share on Instagram or the posts I make on Twitter, which only give people a glimpse of the person behind them," Oates said.
Just as Justin Bieber’s fans are called “Beliebers,” Miley Cyrus’ “Smilers” and Lady Gaga’s “Little Monsters,” Periscope stars have built their own fanbases like “Scott Nation” for Scott Williams, “Grace Space” for Grace Smith and “Lovebug Nation” for Lizza Monet Morales.
That passion extends to other broadcasters, as evidenced by Wednesday’s summit. “Everyone’s talking about very important topics like how to block trolls, how to make money on Periscope, tips for using Periscope, because it’s so new everyone’s trying to figure out how to succeed. I want to talk about what I know,” said Dr. Tabasum Mir, a dermatologist in New York. “As soon as you catch on, why wouldn’t you want to educate? It’s like having a mini TV show.”
More reunions, more collaboration and more participation are exactly what the Periscope is trying to achieve. To be a streamer on Periscope, it simply starts with downloading the app and pressing the “Start Broadcast” button. For now, there’s a burgeoning community that's been wooing new users and brands.
Six months in, Periscope’s growth has been impressive. While Twitter's user base hasn't budged since mid-2014, Periscope is booming. Periscope hit 1 million downloads within the first seven days. It took Twitter two years, Facebook 10 months and Instagram 10 weeks to pass that milestone, Business Insider reports.
Amanda Oleander made headlines as the first star of the Twitter-owned live video streaming app Periscope to be signed (as an actress) by a major talent agency, UTA, last week. Companies have also been wooed by Periscope and have embarked in their own projects and tapping influencers.
For example, top dating site eHarmony sponsored Raymond Cinemato and Shawn C. Matthews to embark on a cross-country scavenger hunt that was all broadcast through Periscope. Viewers could use the promo code “SCOPE4LOVE” to receive a discounted subscription to eHarmony.
— Dieter Brüning (@DieterDietervb) August 21, 2015
“We’re about partnering with great influencers who get our brand and who are authentically going to say it’s a super cool company,” said Kerianne Mellott, social media director of eHarmony.
Brands, marketing experts, entertainers and surfers, they’re all on Periscope. Some broadcasters, like Alex Pettitt and Alex Kahn from Germany, have become the go-to streamers for tips on how to use Periscope. Other Periscope users are trying to make it in different industries, such as medical and healthcare.
Periscope user Alexis Cardoza, along with Gretchen Pitluk and A.J. Olstad, is working on a documentary, “Start Broadcast,” about the app and its community.
“The film will be unique. There was nobody there filming when Apple and Microsoft were being built,” Cardoza said. “We’re putting an app and human connectivity together.”
Cardoza found his hook to Periscope because of the community. “I’ve had no weird feelings when I met someone from Periscope. What I’ve had is made actual friends,” he said.
The feeling was mutual across those in attendance at the summit. Freelance digital marketer Geoff Golberg, who has streamed several news events in New York, said, “I recognize people. People recognize me. ... Meeting in person was about figuring out how we can collaborate. But it wasn’t all professional stuff. I’ve made friends that could be lifelong friends.”