Why I am addicted to Periscope

There are very few apps these days that attract my attention for a lengthy period of time—let alone make me want to come back to it time and time again. For as long as I can remember, Instagram has always been my go-to app during my spare time. As a photographer, it’s inspiring, and the ability to engage with like-minded individuals is very attractive to me.

Why I am addicted to periscope
Why I am addicted to periscope


Pre-broadcast screen
Pre-broadcast screen

That is, until now.

If you haven’t heard, Periscope is a new iOS app (Android version is currently in the works) that allows anybody to live-stream themselves to the world at any point in time. It’s only been out for just over a couple of weeks, but its meteoric rise to fame aims to challenge how we see the world: through other people’s eyes. The viewers can engage with the broadcaster by tapping on the screen to give hearts (as a form of appreciation, love, or support), in addition to writing comments which appear on the screen for about 5 seconds—if you’re lucky—as it scrolls up the screen as more comments get written.

Periscope is still in its infancy but that didn’t detract Twitter from buying the company even before the app had launched. The company is now part of the Twitter family and is a direct competitor to similar featured apps like Meerkat.

Profile screen in Periscope
Profile screen in Periscope. My username is @smaku, which is oddly not shown on your profile page.

The first iteration of Periscope was a little slow and buggy, but after a newly released version, it’s a much more pleasant experience. What hasn’t changed yet though, is if there are too many viewers in one periscope (I use this word both as the app’s name and the live broadcasts that people stream), you are restricted to only giving hearts. [Sigh] the world needs more bandwidth. But enough about the app, let’s see why this app has taken time away from my instagramming.

Kevin and Dina of Breakfast Television in between segments. (@kevinfrankish)
Kevin and Dina of Breakfast Television in between segments. (@kevinfrankish)

So what’s the big deal?

I found out about this app just five days after its launch when I was watching Breakfast Television. Kevin Frankish (@KevinFrankish) boasted about it, and how much he was into live-streaming his daily activities. It sounded interesting so I downloaded Periscope that day and started browsing for other people to follow.

That’s when I took a real liking to this app. There’s just something about watching things happen live anywhere around the world. It really does change how we view the world around us—and in this sense, can be both great and not-so-great: think live-streaming breaking news, sporting events, behind-the-scene activities, and more. Kayvon Beykpour, the CEO of Periscope, says major sports associations are just starting to use Periscope to see its potential.

I was tapping happily at random people’s periscopes and was pleasantly surprised to see other photographers on there too. They gave me glimpses of Half Dome at sunset, walks through California mountains, panoramas of cherry blossoms in Japan, and views of the beautiful vistas of New Zealand. And inside people’s fridges—don’t ask, but that seems to be a common trend with users of Periscope.

Out of all this distraction, however, there was one person that stood out from the crowd. And her name is Amanda Oleander (@amandaoleander).


Amanda's Giving Tree couch where she conducts her interviews.
Amanda Oleander’s Giving Tree couch where she conducts her interviews.

Who’s she?

You probably haven’t heard of her (yet), but she has this innate ability to draw viewers in with her positive talk, enthusiasm to share, and Californian adventures. After seeing some of her periscopes, I later found out that she was quickly on her way to being one of the top users with the most followers, and was in the top five users with the most amount of hearts.

Amanda goes the extra mile to please her followers by taking requests to go to various places in and around Los Angeles. So far, she’s taken her Periscope family, as she likes to call her followers, to see Picasso and Monet paintings inside LACMA, a hike up to the not-so-secret Jim Morrison cave in Malibu, tour of the Grove mall, and in and around Hancock Park. She promises more tours in the future.

It’s not just her tours that make you want to watch though. She’s a talented artist that paints and illustrates for a living, some days even letting the family just watch as she paints and jams to music in her studio apartment.

Amanda OleanderIn her own words, Amanda says she loves Periscope because of its rawness, it “opens up your mind more” to places around the world, and that, “is a beautiful thing.” She wants to build a network where everybody is following their passion and doing it full-time. And because she knows how hard it is to do that, she wants to share what she can to help others out in their journey.

You can sense the genuineness in her as she plans interviews with actors, musicians, and other guests on her “Giving Tree couch” (pictured above) which she painted herself. I personally like the variety of things she streams, so I’d recommend following her account while you still have a chance to interact with her.

What about the others?

If you’re not into peeking into the life of a full-time artist, here are some other accounts that have taken my time away from Instagram:

  • Mashable (@Mashable) for anything tech related, and behind the scenes antics from their office
  • Imai Ami (@iuhya) A Japanese blogger who doesn’t talk much, but takes a lot of walks around the streets of Tokyo
  • Trey Ratcliff (@TreyRatcliff) A well-respected photographer based out of New Zealand
  • Kayvon Beykpour (@kayvon) He’s the co-founder of Periscope. He’s taken us through his company headquarters, and even through his live interview with Bloomberg Newsweek.
  • Dan Caldwell (@tapoutpunkass) I’ve only seen one of his periscopes but as an entrepreneur, he gave us some great insight on how he made his company, and answered any questions we had about starting up our own.

There seems to be a thing with newscasters periscoping from their desks while they are on air. I’ve come across about five accounts now from different stations. Here’s a couple reporters from News 12 in Augusta, GA:

  • Christie Ethridge (@christieetheridgewrdw) and Laura Warren (@LauraWRDW) Two reporters/anchors for News 12 in Augusta, GA who stream from their desks as they’re live on air, and answers our questions in between and after segments.

And here’s someone who will have you laughing out loud. She’s a voice-over actor who does voices for various TV shows, including a character from the new Tom & Jerry. In her very first periscope, she didn’t know what it meant to “show us your fridge” so when someone explained it to her, she opened it up and started giving the contents of her fridge character with voices for oranges to almond milk to onions and even daikon radish. She’s a hoot: Alicyn Packard (@alicyn)

Did I mention Chris Hadfield (@cmdr_hadfield) is also using Periscope? Canada’s very own astronaut takes us around the world as he visits locations for book tours, speaking engagements, and more.

The CEO of Periscope, talking to his followers.
The CEO of Periscope (@kayvon), talking to his followers.
The Tokyo Tower courtesy of @
The Tokyo Tower courtesy of @iuhya
Mashable staff talking about the new emojis.
@Mashable staff talking about the new emojis.
Looking at Monet at LACMA with @amandaoleander
Looking at Monet at LACMA with @amandaoleander
Alicyn is a voice-over actor with character!
@Alicyn is a voice-over actor with character!

And you?

My account is @smaku. Your Periscope account is linked to your Twitter account, although your usernames do not have to be the same. You’ll initially be able to select Periscope users that you also follow on Twitter, if there are any. So if you have a lot of followers on Twitter, chances are, you’ll start off with a lot on Periscope as well. For newcomers though, I do find it hard to attract new followers on here. Hopefully the app’s Global section will allow for the underdog periscopes to be discovered more easily.

I think apps like Periscope and Meerkat have a lot of potential, if used right. Whether these new waves of social media apps are just a fad or if they’re here to stay remains to be seen. I think as the app gets polished, and more users start to periscope, it will become something of value to many of us. So if you don’t see me on Instagram that often, you’ll probably find me on Periscope—that is until my battery runs out. Man, does this app drain your battery quickly.

You’ve been warned.

Tips for effective periscoping

  • If you ever find yourself in a periscope without the ability to chat because there are too many people, wait until the number of users drops down to about 250 or so. Then exit out of the periscope, and enter back in. You’ll find the chat feature magically enable itself so you can interact with the broadcaster.
  • If there are too many comments flooding the screen, the chances that the broadcaster may see yours will be diminished as the comments get pushed up as new ones come in. Before commenting, wait for a small gap or wait until the broadcaster is paying attention to the comments so that yours will have a better chance of getting read. Be aware that sometimes there’s a slight lag in what the broadcasters see and what you see.
  • If you’d like others to see your periscope via the web, make sure you enable Twitter notifications before broadcasting. If people click on the link in your Twitter feed, they will be able to view you through the web browser. Web viewers, however, cannot comment nor give you hearts.
  • You are also able to initiate private broadcasts to only those that you follow. This will allow for a more personable periscope, and one which may cut out the spam comments that pop up now and again.
  • Make sure to keep your audience engaged whenever you’re broadcasting. Even if nothing is happening, ask questions and chat. Your viewers will be more likely to interact with you then.
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