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Beyond the News

Live videocasts hold promise for college marketers

Colleges and universities testing live-video-streaming app called Periscope
University Business, July 2015

In March, Twitter unveiled its newest acquisition, a live video streaming app called Periscope. Following closely on the heels of a rival app called Meerkat, Periscope made waves by enabling anyone with a mobile device (iOS or Android) to broadcast from virtually anywhere. The apps allow viewers to interact with broadcasters through a chat feature.

Live streaming technology is not new (Ustream and a Japanese-based app called Twitcast have been around for several years), but having Twitter’s resources and established network behind it catapults Periscope squarely into the lead.

Though there are drawbacks—including signal loss and battery drain—the app’s flexibility and ease of use have a number of colleges and universities looking at its potential as a marketing tool. Imagine walking tours of campus, guest speakers and breaking news stories broadcast quickly, with no special equipment other than a smartphone.

A number of schools tested the app in May by “scoping” commencement speakers and awards ceremonies. “We used Periscope during our ROTC event at McDaniel College,” says Cheryl Knauer, director of media relations at the Maryland school.

The University of Wisconsin- Madison plans to introduce it as another tool in their social media mix. “We’re playing around with it now, and would like to introduce it to our regular lineup this summer,” says a spokesperson for the @UWMadison account.

Though it is still the “shiny new thing,” some are concerned with privacy and copyright issues. However, Cara Rousseau, manager of digital and social media strategy at Duke University, says, “I think we have the same issues already with the current applications that people are using.”

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