Over the past few years, social media platforms have come and gone. Some get hot, then quickly plateau or completely fizzle out, while a few burst into the social scenes and continue to thrive. Social media presence has become a necessity for businesses to stay top of mind with their customer base and to gain new customers. This need to have a strong social media presence is certainly true with the promotional products industry.
A new social media platform named Periscope released earlier this year and has started to gain significant popularity, particularly with those who are active on Twitter. Quite a few of us in the promotional products industry have jumped on board to test out the waters, including both distributors and suppliers. It just so happens, it has become my new fave. And by the looks of some industry friends, they feel the same way!
Your next question is likely, “What is Periscope?” In short, Periscope is an app for both iPhones and Androids that allows you to instantly broadcast live video feeds to your followers. When you go live with your video feed, followers are notified on their phone that you are live, allowing them to begin viewing your feed in real time. During your feed, viewers can tap the screen showing hearts (giving you some love) and they can post comments during the feed. The comments allow you to respond to viewers during your live broadcast. Your videos can be set to be recorded for followers to instantly replay for up to 24 hours after broadcasting.
Specifically regarding the promotional products industry, is there a place for Periscope?
If so, what are some ways to embrace this new social media platform to not only boost our individual businesses, but also to advance the promotional products industry?
Below are a few comments from myself and a few of my friends within the industry. All commentary below was submitted independently of each other, so there may be some duplication. However, I wanted to include the full commentary from each of these industry experts below.
Patrick Black, Perfect Imprints
- Product Demonstrations – It is sometimes difficult to see how promotional products function from looking at a pictures online. Live demonstrations can be very helpful. This one is of particular interest to me since I am heavily involved in ecommerce sales of promotional items.
- Event Coverage – Whether it be a trade show, an industry awards ceremony, or an education session, live coverage of events within the promo industry could be a huge plus for those unable to attend in person.
- Interviews – Within our industry, we meet many other promotional products distributors and supplier reps. Periscope is a great tool to broadcast a quick, impromptu interview with other industry professionals.
- Client Testimonials – Tweet your own horn sometimes. Or better yet, let your clients do it. Just go live with a quick testimonial from a client to help promote your company.
- Behind the Scenes View – Believe it or not, many of your clients are interested in what takes place behind the scenes. This is due to a desire of people wanting to do business with people, as opposed to people doing business with a business. These fun, informal broadcasts show clients and potential clients that your company is made up of hard-working people.
- Announce Product Specials – You may want to offer a special on a product or service that is good for 24 hours. Announcing your sale on Periscope is perfect, since the broadcast will only be available for 24 hours.
- Promote Your Top Clients – As a promotional products distributor, we rely on our clients to refer us to new clients. Well, this proposition can go both ways. We can actually use Periscope to promote our top clients, whether it be promoting an upcoming event for them or one of their products.
- Video Blogs – Many people don’t take the time to read a blog. Periscope is a great opportunity to recap your blogs in video form. Maybe I should scope this blog?
Charity Gibson, Green Banana Social
Things that may happen that will render Periscope useless or even harmful for your personal and business brands:
- People jumping on the bandwagon and cluttering the feed with sales pitches
(Avoid this by keeping it classy and getting creative!)
- People jumping on the bandwagon and simply rambling without purpose and intent
(Have a subject in mind, outline it before you go live, and stay on subject. The scrolling comments can be distracting, so be strategic about answering questions.)
- People will be leary of adoption because of fear that sensitive industry information will be exposed. (If you are the scoper OR someone in the audience), keep price code discussions and other sensitive info out of the feed. HINT: If you do want to delve a little deeper in your scope – use the “Private” feature and invite only people that are qualified to receive the information)
Ways Periscope can be awesome for personal and business brands, and our industry in general:
- Before signing up for an account, make sure your Twitter bio accurately describes what you do and that it contains a link to your website. It’s the only thing people can see about you when they click on your name and look at your profile on Periscope. Make that 5 seconds count!
- First and foremost – listen to and engage with other scopers. There are so many early adopters that are high-level CEOs etc. They are on sharing sunsets from their backyards, playing acoustic guitar, AND giving out business advice. Watch as many scopes as you can. You can always drop out if it’s not entertaining or educational. The numbers in these scopes are usually small enough that you can ask a question and actually be heard. Jump on and soak this stuff in while it’s happeneing and before the novelty wears off. What a rare opportunity!
- Periscope is another brand building activity. Don’t just scope to scope. You’ll burn your audience out if you over do it. Have a defined message and a targeted audience before you start your scope. Follow people you want to have as your audience so you can help to ensure that the people you end up talking to and engaging with are the ones you want to have hearing what you have to say. Keep it interesting and provide real value.
- I see potential for suppliers giving factory tours and field testing new items live. This also opens up a great opportunity to ‘meet the team’ and see the faces of the people that are behind the scenes making it possible for distributors to do what they do.
- For distributors, potential is endless. Once you have a few followers, begin to educate end-users on why and how to buy promos and demo/field test products in a fun way.
Most important for everyone: Get in on other scopes. Watch, listen, and engage with people strategically – the scopers AND other commenters. Your customers are here in droves. Make connections and build relationships. This is an opportunity to engage with people all over the planet, average Joes to CEOs. It’s pretty incredible when you think about it. Yes…it’s a trend. Ride the wave!
Bill Petrie, Brandivate
- Show distributors new production/decoration methods
- Introduction of key account people (more personal than a picture with a blurb)
- Instant videos of field testing new products
Forward thinking suppliers can really take advantage of Periscope by inviting distributors to truly understand the people, manufacturing processes, and decoration methods to help sell more product. An educated distributor is a suppliers best ally.
- Creative, fun videos to show differentiation
- An instant “sneak peek” of distributors support offices or showroom
- A scheduled case history education
Distributors need to be inventive, but there is a spot for periscope. For example, 3 minute schedule Periscope video on a monthly basis to highlight a case history would be of interest to many end users who would be averse to actually scheduling a meeting. Periscope offers a “safe” way for semi-interested prospects/clients to connect and understand how distributor A is different from distributor B.
Like with any social media, Periscope can best be used to connect people. Also, just like any social media, the real question is how to make and strengthen those connections. In the infant stage of Periscope, it’s difficult to really know how or if the app will engage people in the long run, or simply be another toy for a few to use.
Mary Kate Riordan – Maple Ridge Farms
From a suppliers perspective, we think one of the best uses would be to foster relationships by giving honest, open, authentic, and yes vulnerable footage of our team members at work. Showing some of the joys and struggles that we face during the work week through behind the scenes shots.
As suppliers, we are viewed as the people that show up at our tradeshows, or to some, the voice on the other side of the phone line or email chat. Periscope will be a great tool to bring the rest of the team members showing the entire Maple Ridge experience.
Another potential use that we will test market this week at the ASI Chicago show will be showing distributors tasting our product, their reaction to new packaging, and perhaps sharing some case histories. Spontaneous views of colleagues in our booth reacting to products.
We are planning a specific team event centered on the Periscope app, Amazing Race for Promotional Products. We will break down into teams, each team with one device with the Periscope App, we will race to local establishments and show any Promotional Products that we can find. This event will foster team building, awareness of the role of Promotional Products in our community, and be just plain fun! (Still in the planning stages – stay tuned!)
I can’t see any applications for using it as a direct sales tool beyond perhaps showcasing excitement over new products. Other more permanent tools such as you tube videos that can be shared would be a better visual format for direct sales tools.
Kirby Hasseman – Hasseman Marketing
Periscope is my new favorite app! My goal is to create deeper connections with the people I already know on social. In addition, I think apps like this have the opportunity to improve the perception of the promotional industry outside of the industry. We need to continue to push forward to make promo a more relevant part of the marketing discussion. My being on the front of trends like this, we have a chance to do that.
Thank you to these industry leaders above who chimed in. I look forward to following each one of you on Periscope!
As you can see, there is much potential with Periscope for the promotional products industry. If you are not already using this social platform, I encourage you to sign up and start broadcasting. And be sure to follow each of the promotional products professionals above! Happy Scoping!
Be on the lookout for an upcoming blog with Periscope Tips to get the most our of your Scoping!