5 Things We Learned From Our CEO’s AMA on Periscope

Everything associated with social media is moving at the speed of light. The only way to stay ahead is to test new things, refine your strategy, and quickly ditch what isn’t working. Sometimes with new tools, the best approach is just to do something—give it a try and see what you can learn.

Jumping on a new social network early and becoming one of the first to build an audience can pay real dividends in the future. We saw an example of that here at Hootsuite with our CEO Ryan Holmes and his LinkedIn Influencer columns.

More recently, the popularity of live-social-streaming apps has exploded, igniting a battle between upstart Meerkat and Twitter’s Periscope. Which one should we use? What’s the best way to use them? Savvy marketers are asking these questions, so we decided the best way to answer them was for our CEO to dive in headfirst with an AMA (Ask Me Anything). Here are 5 tips we learned from our first experiments with the new generation of live-streaming apps:

5 lessons from our first experiments with Periscope

TIP #1: Keep the conversation casual.

On Wednesday morning, Ryan Holmes, our CEO, hosted an AMA via Periscope. We decided to go in without a predetermined subject matter and let the audience decide what it wanted to hear. The questions ranged from #Hootmeet (our April Fools campaign), to whom Ryan hangs out with, to his view on apps like Slack, Instagram and Snapchat. He even talked about the time he took a Tesla for a test drive.

The best parts of the broadcast were when Ryan was adding value and the conversation was casual and happened in real-time.

TIP #2: Set up a Google Doc to track questions so that you are able to respond to more people in real-time.

In a few previous experiments, we found it hard to keep up with the streaming flurry of questions on Periscope. They come in waves, and it is really easy to miss good questions. For Wednesday’s broadcast, we had a small team set up a Google Doc to keep track of questions, which Ryan also had open on his screen. Depending on the volume of questions you receive, you may want someone assisting the person with tracking the questions.

TIP #3: Make sure you test out framing of the subject before going live with your broadcast. Keeping the head/face in the upper half to third of the screen works best.

In Ryan’s test broadcast last week, he received feedback that part of his head was cropped out out of the video. For this broadcast, we set up a private broadcast in advance to make sure we got Ryan’s phone set up for the right framing. What is the right framing? It is best to have the subject’s face/head in the upper half to third of the shot if you are shooting vertical video (which most of the streaming apps do). This allows people to see the subject’s face, even when they have the keyboard open on their mobile phone and they are typing a question.

TIP #4: Promotion is key to building a larger audience for your broadcast. Don’t just rely on followers on the app tuning in to watch.

Promotion is extremely important for driving a large audience to your broadcast. We scheduled some posts from our other social channels to promote Ryan’s AMA. This included Tweets starting a day in advance of the broadcast and a few countdown Tweets 10-15 minutes before he went live. We also retweeted the broadcast link from our main Hootsuite channel as soon as it was Tweeted live out of Ryan’s handle. We also had the benefit of promoting the AMA in advance in one of Ryan’s LinkedIn thought leadership pieces.

Another way to ensure that your live broadcast link gets promoted properly is to use IFTTT to promote it across multiple handles – like LinkedIn and Facebook. Here is the recipe that Ryan used:

Lastly, don’t forget to promote your video after the fact. The benefit of Periscope is that you can watch the video for up to 24 hours after the livestream, so that means you can direct your audience to watch it via your communications channels later that day or the next day.

TIP #5: Keep the broadcast short and sweet.

People are looking for bite-sized experiences, but people are also busy and don’t have a lot of time to dedicate to a long broadcast. Our AMA on Wednesday was 15 minutes long, which may have been a bit too long. Some people had to go to class. Others had to go back to work. Scarcity is a good thing – make people want to come back for more.


  • Make sure to fill in the details of the stream before you start the broadcast – let people know what they are tuning in to watch.

  • If you are sending a private stream to a friend or small group of people, recognize that a Tweet will still get sent out from your Twitter account. Make sure to to delete those Tweets ASAP, because the URL will be a dead link to the public.