Two words that most authors have a love/hate relationship with. Which mediums work? How do you interact with readers? How do you build a following? It’s difficult, that’s for sure, but I recently stumbled on a new app I believe could be a great friend to writers, especially those who are currently published with a readership. It’s called Periscope.
Periscope is a new video app linked to your Twitter account that lets you interact in live time with followers. You broadcast on a video stream, and anyone watching can comment as you record. Their interaction runs across the screen in comment bubbles, allowing you to give a shout-out or answer any of their questions as they’re asking them. Then the video stays in the Periscope queues for twenty-four hours so anyone that missed the live chat can view it. It’s like Snapchat and Facetime had a baby.
So…why should a writer be on it? Here’s a few reasons:
~Readers love interacting with their authors. This gives them a venue to do that without handing out your phone number.
~You can broadcast live from book signings or conferences, giving behind-the-scenes moments.
~You can work this into contest giveaways, pulling names while they watch.
~Live Q&A’s about your books with readers from all over the country.
~Have chats with readers about new books coming out.
~Share from your everyday life moments with a weekly scheduled chat.
You get the picture. Bottom line? Periscope allows you a new, deeper level of interaction with your readers, and that is something they look for. But before you jump on, here’s a few things to know:
1) Periscope links to your Twitter account and will generate a Tweet (unless you tell it not to) each time you broadcast. Therefore, hashtags are important in your scope titles.
2) If you’d like to limit who can comment on your broadcasts, there’s an option each time you set up a new scope. (A small comment bubble to click just above the “start broadcast” button) This option allows only people YOU follow to comment, thus increasing shared follows and also protecting you from anyone in the world being able to comment. (Unwanted commenters are called “trolls”, and they’re out there.)
3) There is also the option to turn on or off your location for each broadcast. If you’re broadcasting from home, I highly recommend you click this off.
4) Hearts. Hearts are VERY important. When you watch a broadcast, you can tap the bottom right corner of your screen and give the broadcaster a heart, or two, or five hundred—which is currently the most you can give in a day. As a broadcaster, the more hearts you have the higher your scopes rank on the Periscope sight. For me, it’s just fun to give hearts. Everyone needs a little love.
5) When you start a live broadcast, tap the screen twice to reverse the camera—if you want people to see your smiling face. When you’re ready to stop the broadcast, swipe down on the top of the screen.
6) You have a few options once the scope is done. Queue your scope for twenty-four hours for anyone on Periscope to view—and keep giving you hearts—or delete it. There’s also a great new hashtag #katch that will record, hold, and give you a replay link to tweet again at any time. Check them out on Twitter under #katch.
If you’re unsure about this new medium, I still encourage you to check it out. Watch others’ scopes for a while to see what works and what doesn’t. Then sign up with a few of your friends and create “private chats” to practice with before you go live for the first time. And be ready to laugh at yourself, because no matter how much you practice you still learn as you go.
If you do jump into the Periscope waters, look me up: Susan L. Tuttle. It’s a fun new place to be—one I’ve just dipped my toes into—and your readers will love getting to see a new side of you.