A major reason why I started Mai Tai T.V. was to take advantage and test out the latest social livestreaming technology. With the increasing popularity of Snapchat, Meerkat, Periscope and now Facebook Live, content broadcasters have a powerful set of free broadcasting tools at their fingertips, and the ability to produce quality television without a ton of overhead. This is something I’ve wanted to do for ages, but felt hindered by technology and cost.
Periscope: Livestreaming done right
We started Mai Tai T.V. on Periscope (follow me @cultofgeorge) because Snapchat is primarily for short-form recordings with an even shorter shelf life and Meerkat doesn’t have the bells and whistles that Periscope offers. I wanted to produce a program that would last way past the initial release and hopefully gain more and more viewers over time. While Periscope only gives fans 24-hours to view your content, it’s simple to pull the feed and post it on your YouTube channel or Facebook. I love the instant feedback and questions from viewers and was psyched to see that people were willing to watch and engage on a regular basis. Even better, Periscope can be held in landscape mode (horizontal) so you can easily watch it on your TV at full-width.
The major problem with Periscope is lack of consistency. Periscope viewership seems to ebb and flow based on who’s online and what’s going on. Some weeks we would have 150 viewers and the next we would have two. There also seems to be a bit of notification overload with Periscope. You need to follow people to build your own audience, but in turn, you are also riddled with a million notification pings telling you that a person you follow is broadcasting. My fear is that, much like Twitter, Periscope will become a social network where people go to hear themselves talk, but rarely engage with others. I won’t even get into the number of followers and viewers I have from Russia. While I love all my fans. I have a feeling that a good chunk of these accounts are bogus.
Enter Facebook Live
A colleague recently turned me onto Facebook Life and I was instantly smitten. I have a ton of Facebook friends and followers that are actively involved on the social network. Unlike Twitter or Periscope, Facebook users are on all day long. They don’t tune in and tune out. When we tested out Mai Tai T.V. on Facebook Live the results were outstanding — 271 views, 31 comments and 14 likes. I’d be lucky if I got a quarter of those views on Periscope. Since I know these are actual friends, I know they are watching because they want to watch, not because they just landed on my feed. Had I made my Facebook Live feed public, I would probably have gotten even more views.
All that said, Facebook Live is brand new and has a ton of growing to do. First off, the only viewing mode available is square, which is a giant pain in the butt for our format. This week we are going to have a guest, which means I need to find a way to frame three people in a square shot. It’s going to suck. Yes, we could get a camera guy to pan and zoom, but this is DIY and we don’t have a production budget. Obviously, engagement is limited by the quality and quantity of friends you have. If you only have 50 close Facebook friends and most of them are family, you might not get the interaction you are looking for. In that case, Periscope might be the better fit. Also, Facebook Live’s comment system is awful live. We tried watching while we were taping (with the volume off) and we couldn’t see the comments as they were being posted. That kills the live engagement that Periscope is well known for.
The right tool for the right job
In the end, it really comes down to what you are hoping to achieve. Hambone and I are trying to do a half hour+ talk show, something that doesn’t really lend itself to the ADHD, social-first, Millennial generation (at least according to old people). For us, Periscope is a slick, easy-to-use tool to reach new people, but I’m not sure if anyone wants to hold their phone for 30 minutes to listen to us babble about comic books and punk rock. Facebook is where our friends are (and friends of friends). I know they are more than willing to watch us for an extended period of time and it helps that they can easily do so using an app they know and love, as well as their home computer.
To be fair, we use multiple methods to record and publish Mai Tai T.V. During our live broadcast I have a Samsung Galaxy S7 edge shooting footage for Facebook Live (or Periscope), and just below it I have a GoPro Hero 4 Silver capturing the show in 1080p to edit and post to YouTube. By hitting a few different social and distribution channels at once, I know that I’m getting maximum engagement from an assortment of different people. In the end, the goal of Mai Tai T.V. is to have fun and make other people happy, so it really all comes down to knowing where our audience is and easily delivering quality programming that they will care about and share with their extended network and family. Because, as we all know, Mai Tai T.V. won’t be a hit unless your grandmother knows who Hambone is.
Feel free to leave any and all questions about these platforms and more in the comments section below. I’d love to hear how you are sharing your livestreams.
- New social media avenue ripe for building new audience
- Easy-t0-use comment and “hearting” system makes engagement easy
- Notifications let you know when people are live broadcasting
- Videos appear in Twitter feed
- Lanscape/horizontal mode
- Tons of spam accounts
- Notification overload
- Lack of engagement from Twitter followers (unless you are famous)
- Tough to separate your Twitter account from your Periscope account
- If you have a separate Twitter account, you must log in to Periscope with your telephone account every single time
- Way more engagement from Facebook friends and followers
- Saves videos to Facebook photo album
- Notifies FB friends when you are live
- No spam followers (unless you suck at curating your friends)
- No landscape of portrait mode (just square)
- If you shoot in landscape mode, your video will appear sideways to viewers
- Comments do not appear in real time
- Tough to gain new audience unless friends share your post and it’s public
- Saved feed is square so it looks like ass if you post on YouTube