Why live streaming may not be the future of social video

 Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images Entertainment / Getty Images

Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images Entertainment / Getty Images

One boast that I occasionally make is that I'm one half of Ginspiration Marketing, London's most successful occasional marketing show on Periscope. I somehow suspect that I'm also one half of London's only occasional marketing show on Periscope. And that may be the problem. Live streaming that is, not Ginspiration Marketing.

I like Periscope. It's fun, you have immediate interaction with your viewers, and if you've spent some time poking around, you can tune into some truly random streams, a good number of which are in Russian.

But it's also not especially busy. Without seeing any numbers, but being a regular user, Periscope rarely feels awash with live streaming.

That's also part of the reason Periscope's live streaming competitor, Meerkat, has performed a massive pivot, moving into a slightly more personalised space, not dissimilar from Google Hangouts.

In Meerkat's case, app usage certainly wasn't growing. It barely cracked the top 1000 apps. It was beloved of SWSX attendees but found an audience beyond the tech bubble a little harder to come by.

But it's not enough to say that live streaming won't take off. Meerkat - and to a lesser extent Periscope - may not have been wrong, just early (see also Seesmic, Phreadz, Justin.tv and Qik).

Periscope shouldn't be totally dismissed if you're a marketeer. The immediate community feedback is useful and clever use of paid within the app can elevate it, while the 24 hour playback adds an element that allows it to live beyond the initial broadcast, plus integrations with the Twitter feed and GoPro hint future directions.

From a celebrity or major brand perspective it adds an extra real time element (although given their recent announcement that live video will get priority in the algorithm, I suspect Facebook will eventually come to own this space) and it offers access to areas that previously even Twitter couldn't really offer at such a level of depth.

And Drummond Puddle Watch shows that if you have the right broadcast, people will watch it. 

But there's a difference between 100,000 people Tweeting about X Factor or Premier League football and the number of people who will actually have anything meaningful to live stream at scale - and will actually want to live stream

This suggests that ultimately Periscope is a broadcast tool with added social elements.

There is another hint at the future of live streaming. Look at the more popular apps among millennials. Snapchat. Yik Yak. Whisper.

There's a trend here. Private not public. Broadcasting yourself takes an odd mix of confidence and chutzpah and while Periscope will undoubtedly build a few stars - just as YouTube, Vine and Instagram have done - the number of people creating content on the channel will always be a small proportion of the userbase.

Live streaming will evolve as the technology develops and human online and mobile behaviour changes, just as Twitter today is a very different beast from the service that was designed with a 140 character limit to make it easy to post via SMS. Whether Meerkat will still be around by that stage is another question.