Periscope just made Twitter relevant again

Nate Swanner - Mar 26, 2015, 4:22pm CDT
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Periscope just made Twitter relevant again

A long time ago, when MTV was actually relevant for music, there was a deligthful video called ‘video killed the radio star’ playing almost constantly; as catchy as it was prophetic. Just as Charlie Chaplin was exposed by ‘talkies’, so were radio ‘stars’ who couldn’t duplicate their musical efforts on the exciting new visual format that was MTV. With Periscope, Twitter is morphing their own platform into something more, something different, something refreshing. Twitter now bridges a gap between immediate and contextual, live and lived-in. It also makes the global technology gap more apparent.


Part of what makes Twitter special is its ability to provide real-time info in quick bursts. Log in, and you get access to the world at-large, and are subject to a flood of opinion and news in 140 characters or less.

Twitter, as-is (or was, I guess) found favor with journalists and wannabe-comedians all the same; those who would rather say something quick and snappy than pen a dictum on a subject. Those who wanted to direct attention to themselves. Users who had something good to say, even if it wasn’t a lot.

Twitter is neat. It’s possibly perfect. It is (or was, I guess) also losing relevancy.

Twitter says it lost 4M users because of iOS 8 rollout

After an IPO, Twitter was made to share their user numbers in earnings calls. What we found was reality, and that Twitter — as expansive as it was — maybe wasn’t as large and in charge as we thought. More to the point, visuals seemed to be taking over. When compared to Instagram, Twitter may not be the most-used micro-social platform around.

Pictures were squashing the written word. Twitter’s small footprint, both in how many of those words we could smash out on the keyboard and when considering user numbers, were making the service an also-ran in many ways. We’d post Instagram photos to Twitter, but that was more to the benefit of Instagram.

Twitter was being leveraged. Still is.

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Live video was the latest gut-punch, with many sharing links to Meerkat videos on Twitter. Twitter was turning into the fulcrum for social; a platform used to relay us elsewhere.

Periscope, though — Periscope brings everything back into focus for Twitter. Today, a tragedy in New York is being cast on Periscope, and shared widely via Twitter. The difference here is that Periscope is, as of a very recent acquisition, a Twitter property.

Twitter is now the video star. Twitter is leveraging itself.

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Periscope was made for Twitter. Not literally, but the immediacy of live video and the easy access to Twitter make the tandem absolutely devastating for the competition. Forget Snapchat’s partnerships. Forget Facebook’s Techwire. When it comes to right now — and knowing what’s going on in the moment — Twitter and Periscope matter.

The downside to Periscope (other than being iOS-only and only available in the US for now, which will change) is that it isn’t handy for those on weak connections. Would protesters in countries with poor cellular connectivity be able to use it at this time? Likely not — and not even if they had the option to. Periscope highlights a digital divide the likes of Facebook and Google are working to rectify in their way.

But we’ll always have Twitter proper for those times, and blasting a quick tweet is still as breezy and effective as ever. Written words are also still the foundation of Twitter, even with Periscope anchoring its video efforts. In relaying his experience in New York today, Fusion’s Tim Pool routinely asked users to tweet to him with questions they may have.

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Consider that for just a second. Not only are you getting real-time, live, contextual info — you’re able to interact. You’re able to help. We could wave goodbye to the days of Redditors trying to solve crime and welcome a new era of real-time, crowd-sourced info gathering.

That was always an aim of Twitter, too. With Periscope, the two services make those results easier, faster, and potentially much more effective.

Though it might be more functional and necessary in places Periscope just does not reach yet, the promise of Periscope and Twitter is massive. Just like Twitter was all those years ago at SXSW when it was “just” SMS-ing the world.


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