What is Periscope and How Do I Use It?

what is periscope

Periscope, the live streaming video mobile app purchased by Twitter in February of 2015, has been the talk of the town since its official launch on March 26, 2015.

While Periscope is hotter than a Phoenix sidewalk in July, it can be a bit intimidating to folks new to the platform. After all, you’re going to be talking in front of a live audience and you want to at least look like you know what you’re doing.

That’s why this guide was created. Once you work your way through our guide, you should be ready not only to hold your first broadcast, but also to make it a success.

Ready? Periscope up!

What is Periscope?

Simply put, Periscope enables you to “go live” via your mobile device anytime and anywhere. The app enables you to become your own “on the go” broadcasting station, streaming video and audio to any viewers who join your broadcast.

Periscope is an app that truly takes advantage of its mobile platform incorporating notifications and location as well as social sharing (on Twitter of course), live discussions and feedback. A Periscope broadcast in full swing is a truly interactive event:

What is Periscope streaming video app

Once a broadcast is over, others can watch a replay, and even provide feedback, within Periscope for up to 24 hours. After that, the broadcast is removed from the app.

Never fear however, each of your broadcasts can be saved to your mobile device and, once you’ve got it there, it can be published and shared online just like any other video.

There are many ways you can use Periscope for business from insider videos to live Q&A sessions and beyond. Periscope is also a great tool to use to show off your skills, especially if you’re a speaker.

Professional speaker Marquesa Pettway (CSP, DTM) teaches entrepreneurs how to use speaking to grow their business and is a big fan of Periscope.

“I love periscope,” Pettway says. “I’ve got a few broadcasts under my belt and have found that it’s your chance to share your expertise, your love of life, your neighborhood or just your perspective with people that already know about you while also attracting new people that turn into followers and maybe even clients. Just get on there and share your heart and you’ll get hearts in return.”

How Do I Use Periscope?

This section walks you through using Periscope by focusing on five areas:

  1. Signing in;
  2. Tabs;
  3. Settings;
  4. Watching a broadcast; and
  5. Sending a broadcast.

Signing In

The first step in using Periscope is to download it to your iOS or Android device. The first time you launch the app, you’ll be asked to sign in:

What is Periscope streaming video app

You can sign in using your Twitter account or you can use your phone number however, if you want to easily make the most of the social aspect of Periscope, using your Twitter handle is recommended.

If you have more than one Twitter handle, you can add the additional ones using the “Add Account” function under the Twitter settings on your device:

What is Periscope streaming video app


There are four primary tabs in the Periscope app. The first tab displays two lists:

  1. A list of the people you’re following on Periscope who are currently “live” (You can just touch a listing to join the broadcast); and
  2. A list of broadcasts that you’ve attended within the past 24 hours. (You can replay any of the broadcasts on the list by touching one.)

What is Periscope streaming video app

The second tab in the app has two views, both of which show a global list of live public broadcasts that you can join. You can flip between both the list and map views by using the selector at the top of the screen:

What is Periscope

What is Periscope streaming video app

The third tab is your broadcast booth:

What is Periscope streaming video app

The final tab is where you can look up folks to follow. Note that the number of followers displayed refers to how many Periscope followers a person has, not how many Twitter followers. This is also where you access your profile and other settings:

What is Periscope streaming video app


As you can see in the screenshot above, there’s a little blank headshot in the top right — touch that to access your Periscope profile as well as your settings:

In terms of functionality and information, this screen is robust:

What is Periscope streaming video app

  1. Your Periscope profile was imported when you signed in using Twitter. But you can  still change the details of that profile with a few clicks. Touch edit to access the spot where you want to make a change:

What is Periscope streaming video app

  1. The image, Twitter ID and tagline are all set in your profile (see no. 1 to edit this information).
  2. This shows how many hearts you’ve received both during your live broadcasts and during their replays. Viewers give you hearts by touching the screen while watching to show their appreciation for your broadcast.
  3. This shows how many people you’re following on Periscope. To see the list, touch the arrow to the right.
  4. This shows how many people are following you on Periscope. To see the list, touch the arrow to the right.
  5. This shows how many people you’ve blocked on Periscope. When you block someone on Periscope, that person will not be able to follow you or view any of your broadcasts, chats, or hearts within the app. You’ll also be unable to follow or see that person’s broadcasts, chats or hearts. To see the list of those you’ve blocked, touch the arrow to the right.
  6. Touching the arrow to the right takes you to the settings screen:

What is Periscope streaming video app

  • The first setting enables you to toggle the notification you get when someone follows you in Periscope on or off. Notifications can also be controlled globally in Periscope’s notification settings on your device.
  • The second setting lets you configure the languages that Periscope will prioritize when showing you public broadcasts:

What is Periscope streaming video app

  • The final setting is important and it’s recommended that you always leaved it in the “On” position. This will assure that all of your broadcasts are saved to your mobile device when finished. If this is set to off and you forget to save the broadcast, you’ll lose the video.
  1. Touch this arrow to return to the previous screen.

Under the settings slider, there are some other useful features including a way to share Periscope, find help, send feedback, view legal information and finally, log out of the app.

Watching a Broadcast

To watch a live broadcast on Periscope, head on over to either the list or map version of the global broadcast tab and touch an existing event that interests you.

If your notifications are turned on, you’ll also learn about a live broadcast when:

  • Someone you’re following on Periscope starts one;
  • Somebody you follow on Periscope shares another person’s live broadcast;
  • Someone you follow invites you to a private broadcast; or
  • When someone you follow on Twitter broadcasts live for the first time.

In the example below, you’ll see how to watch a broadcast replay that, except for interaction via comments, is exactly the same as watching a live broadcast.

First, select the broadcast by touching it on your watch screen’s replay list (in this case, you’ll be watching, “Speakerprenuers: The Journey”):

What is Periscope streaming video app

The broadcast starts at once. As you can see below, there are a few moving parts here:

  1. You can add a comment by entering it into the “Say something” field at the bottom;
  2. Bubbles that show comments from other folks, as well as who joins the broadcast, float from the bottom and eventually fade out.
  3. To the right, you can see hearts floating up as they’re given. Again, hearts are born when a viewer touches the right side of the screen and shows appreciation for the broadcast.
  4. The little person with the number at the bottom right shows the number of viewers at all times. Touching the little person takes you to another screen.

What is Periscope streaming video app

When you click on the little person at the bottom right of the broadcast screen, you’ll be taken to the following screen:

What is Periscope streaming video app

Since this is a replay, there’s no broadcast showing currently in the top part of the screen. Here are some things you can do however:

  1. See a map showing the broadcaster’s location (if they chose to reveal it);
  2. Decide to follow the broadcaster on Periscope by clicking on the little person icon with a plus sign next to it;
  3. Hide the chat as you watch the broadcast (if you want distraction free viewing); and
  4. Share the broadcast via Twitter or by copying the broadcast’s link and then sharing it via email or a different social media network.

Scrolling down on this page enables you to see who watched this broadcast live and during a replay as well as the viewers who sent hearts and how many hearts they sent. Finally, you can report a broadcast if you found it offensive or inappropriate in some way.

Be aware that you can watch a broadcast on your Mac or PC. All you need to do is click on the link when someone shares it. At this time however, you cannot comment or give hearts when you’re watching this way.

One last note on watching a broadcast: if there are too many people in a broadcast, only those who arrived early can make comments. If you join a popular broadcast, you may be shown this screen:

What is Periscope streaming video app

Consider yourself warned — if you want to chat during a popular broadcast, join ASAP.

Sending a Broadcast

Finally, we come to the heart of Periscope, sending your own live broadcasts.

When you first visit the broadcast screen, you’ll see the following popup:

What is Periscope streaming video app

First, enable all three options as the first two are necessary for video and audio and the third can be shut off for individual broadcasts.

Next you’ll be taken to the broadcast set up screen:

What is Periscope streaming video app

Look through this screen one step at a time:

  1. This is where you name your broadcast.
  2. Touching here toggles the location setting. If you want to keep your location private, turn this off.
  3. Touching here turns your public broadcast (by default) into a private one. You can only invite people who follow you and you have to select each one individually. This is great for small classes or groups of folks you’re coaching.
  4. Touching here toggles the folks who can chat during the broadcast. If it’s off, every viewer can chat. If it’s on, only those who follow you can chat.
  5. Touching here sends an update via Twitter so your followers know you’re starting a broadcast. This is useful for getting the attention of those who follow you on Twitter but not yet on Periscope.

From there, it’s just like watching a broadcast except you’re the one on the screen!

One important tip: if you need to change which camera your mobile device is using (if you’ve enabled comments, you really want to be watching the screen during a broadcast), double tap the screen to switch.

After the broadcast, you’ll be able to see some metrics:

What is Periscope streaming video app

As you can see, the broadcast has been sent to your camera roll and that’s where you can grab it to publish or share it online. One note, the video above does not show any of the comments, joins or hearts — they currently seem to be shown only when watching a broadcast live or as a replay within the Periscope app.

If you scroll down, you can see everyone who attended the live broadcast as well as those who watched the broadcast as a replay. In addition, you can see how many hearts the broadcast received and which folks gave them to you.

From this point on, and for 24 hours, your followers will be able to share and watch a replay of your broadcast where they can continue to give you hearts.


Periscope is hot and bound to get hotter, especially given Twitter’s popularity with celebrities.

While it’s almost impossible to cover every nook and cranny of the app, this guide is a great place to start. So don’t wait. Get in there and start using Periscope. You’ll feel like a pro in no time.

Image: Periscope

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Matt Mansfield Matt Mansfield is the Tech Editor and SEO Specialist at Small Business Trends where he is responsible for directing and writing many of the site’s product reviews, technology how-to’s, and lists of small business resources as well as increasing the reach of our content.

46 Reactions
  1. Hi Matt,
    Great post on using Periscope. Having literally just downloaded the app a week ago, it’s good to find some useful content on how to use it well! I’ve already shared this.

    Do you think it spells the end for YouTube – or does the fact that the videos only stay up on the platform for 24 hours mean it won’t? Interesting to see how it unfolds…


    • Thanks Heather!

      If anything, Periscope will make YouTube more important. As you rightly pointed out, videos can only be viewed on the platform for 24 hours so following that, you need a spot to post your broadcasts and that’s where YouTube comes in. There’s a very synergistic relationship between the two.

      In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a “Post to YouTube” button added to Periscope sometime in the future…


  2. Matt,

    How could you save your scopes for the future? Have you checked out Katch? Could you compare and contrast Periscope with Meerkat?

    Have you tested Bambuser?

    I wonder if I can use Periscope for “behind the scene” stuff at the podcasting studio, or live tea tastings?

  3. Martin,

    Yes, you can save your scopes for the future to your device and then share it as you normally would share a video.

    I haven’t played heavily with the other apps you mention yet, but I always urge folks to check out the alternatives and use the one that feels right for them.

    Behind the scenes is a GREAT way to use Periscope. The immediacy of a Periscope broadcast is a fine way to share your process and open your life, whether professional or personal, to your followers.


  4. Thank you for the wonderful tips. Very new to this concept. I just got wind if this wonderful new app yesterday, and immediately stepped out of my comfort zone to make my first 5 minute broadcast. Earned 1 heart. Not bad for someone who was not prepared.

    With your easy to follow guide, I’m sure for success ising this app.

    Thank you!

    • Sherri – congrats on your first broadcast! You’ll get better at it, and better results, over time so keep it up.


  5. Great info. How do you change the video so you can see the screen/yourself?

  6. Can my location be seen when I am viewing a live broadcast?

  7. Same questuon as Lisa, how do you switch camera view?

  8. Thanks so much for your clear, comprehensive coverage of this subject. Great effort! I can’t wait to get doing my own ‘scopes’ though it’s going to be a few months yet! Paul

  9. Hi Matt,
    Thanks for this guide on Periscope. I definitely found the platform very intimidating and so have not used it. Now that this has become available I will follow the steps and suggestions provided and set up an account.
    Thanks a lot for your thoughtfulness!

  10. the app says ..initialising video stream…
    This has been on the screen for 5 mins plus and cannot access the Start Broadcast … button any advice?

  11. How do I link Periscope from my webpage? I need an URL to link to.

  12. It is nice to finally have a guide on this. We usually see Periscope but we don’t really know what it is for. I guess, this is a great way to know how to use it.

  13. Be very careful of using this site for very important videos you may want to share and if save. Last week my niece periscope my brothers funeral for those of us who could not make it home. We tried and tried to share the video to others and also tried to find how to save the broadcast to our iPads and or computers but could find no save button.
    Then it wa gone. Removed, now we gave lost it forever.
    So beware!
    They need to make this site way more user friendly.
    Val Poole

    P.S. Even now I can not find a submit box to send this!

  14. Periscope has been an amazing app, really opening the world to real time interactions, very exciting. I recently ran into a great desktop application for Mac or PC which allows you to save Periscope videos, giving you access to unlimited fresh video content. Check out http://www.scopesave.com

    Really incredible, helped me get more content for blogs.

  15. Thanks Matt for an interesting and useul introduction of how to use Periscope. I plan to use for the first time as soon as I’ve got my head around it and how to best use it.

  16. Awesome tutorial! I plan on seeing how my church can use Periscope. Thanks a bunch!

  17. Great article. I will be using Periscope to read my books, motivational, and inspirational content to a live audience. There are many ways in which to use this great application to connect with live viewers. It’s definitely worth looking into.

  18. Hi Matt,

    i havent tried periscope but after a moment i will use it. is there a chance that i can limit my viewers?


  19. Hi Matt,
    Do you think it’s possible that Periscope might have some features in the future that allow for transitions, fades etc?

  20. Matt,
    Great info! As a newbie you’ve given me nice insight.

  21. I was contemplating making a Periscope profile. This is the best little guide to get started! Thank you 🙂

  22. Periscope has become nothing but an adult porn/cam sight that also allows underage girls to get naked on cam with no banning. I’ve reported several girls as young as 10 years old on the app getting naked, and periscope has not done anything about it. They are quickly getting known on the internet even as whorescope.

  23. Hi Matt,

    Thanks for the quick guide on Periscope. Can video file be uploaded to Periscope and then broadcasted?

    Looking forward to your response.

    Thank you.


  24. There have been a lot of noise around Periscope when it started. But it seems like the live feature has now been copied on Facebook that it is now hardly getting any users.

  25. There have been lots of attention when it comes to Periscope. Just don’t know how popular it is now that Live streaming is quite common.

  26. Every time I try to take a picture or screenshot someone in periscope my phone turns off. What are the key elements

  27. Kristy Ellen Wells

    How secure is periscope? My church told me to use periscope to view there church services. I never heard of it.i don’t want no malware on my devices or other people being able to see my location.

  28. Hi I would like this, but access only to paid subscribers or pay per view i.e. i want to monetize my content. I am not concerned with popularity or view counts & would prefer to deactivate these types of settings…is this monetization function possible? Thanks

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