July 10, 2015

Nonprofit Case Study: Periscope for Nonprofits

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Case study series - gift of lfe

Caroline Avakian Headshot finalAs a follow-up to my Periscope for Nonprofits Quick Guide, I wanted to focus on real Nonprofit Periscopers, and how they’re using this new tool for social good.

Today, I’m featuring Jennifer Tislerics, the Special Events & Partnerships Coordinator for Gift of Life Michigan. Gift of Life Michigan coordinates organ and tissue donations from deceased donors for the state. Jennifer also handles social media, youth outreach, faith-based programs, workplace outreach, and more.

As a refresher, Periscope is a three month-old, free mobile app that allows any user to live stream from wherever they are. Jennifer bravely responded to our call out for ‘Nonprofit Periscopers’ and she had a lot of great advice to offer in our Q & A.

1) What made you want to try out Periscope? Was it a strategic move as part of a larger social strategy, or did you want to experiment with the app first to see if it would work for your nonprofit?

jennifer TislericsI saw the Michigan Secretary of State staff using Periscope at a press conference during National Donate Life Month in April. (In Michigan our Secretary of State oversees the DMV, and helps coordinate the state’s organ donor registry.) It seemed like an easy way to engage a broader audience in an event. I watched a few other broadcasts on the iPad and was intrigued by the possibilities to engage distant supporters in real-time. I decided to experiment with it a bit, to see how it might benefit our organization and cause.

2) What event did you use Periscope for?

In late April I used Periscope at a kick-off breakfast event for an annual walk/run event. I plan to use it again at the actual walk/run in late July.

3) What was the experience like? Did you get good feedback from users? Take us through your steps.

It was a rough start, actually. One of the biggest lessons I learned is to use a tripod and get up close to the action – do not carry the iPad around or video from the back of the room. At least not at a seated event – I will probably move around some at the walk/run event. I accidentally stopped the video early (bad finger placement holding the iPad), so had to start fresh with a new video, which our Twitter followers may not have found. Actually, I did a few shorter-than-intended videos. The ones with the most audience traffic had short but interesting titles, which made our video stand out from the crowd.

4) What was engagement like?

Not nearly as many people watched the videos as I had hoped, but it was early on a work-day morning. It was fun to see people in the real-life audience following on Periscope, too, and sending us hearts and positive comments!

5) What did you learn? Any tips to share?

Practice first! Practice on-site. Make sure you’ve got a solid internet connection. Use a tripod. Prepare a few people to talk to you on video beforehand. Promote it in advance so people know to follow you on Twitter to get the link (and any new links you may create after accidentally cutting the video short).

6) What worked and what didn’t? What would you like to see improved?

I wish we could “add on” or continue a previous video, rather than having to create a new one if we accidentally stop the first video. It’s tough typing in a new title in a hurry, trying to rush and get online again. In general, I think Periscope viewers prefer interactive videos rather than “broadcasts” of speeches, although when we video’d a Michigan Supreme Court Justice speaking that got some audience attention!

7) Would you use Periscope again?

Definitely! I plan to at our walk/run on July 25 in Detroit.

8) Did you download the broadcast?

No, I didn’t feel I got a high enough quality video to make that worthwhile. This time.

9) Do you see yourself adding it to your social media strategy?

Yes, if these first few experiences prove successful, or at least promising, we will incorporate it into our strategy.

10) Anything else you want to tell me that I didn’t ask?

Follow @giftoflifemich on Twitter the morning of Saturday, July 25 to get links to our Periscope video(s) and send me feedback! I’m always open to suggestions for improvement.

We will definitely do that, Jennifer, and we’ll send you tons of Periscope hearts for all the great work you are doing at Gift of Life Michigan! Thank you for sharing your Periscope experience with us.


Photo courtesy of Gift of Life Michigan

PS – I will be featuring nonprofits and NGOs using Periscope on this blog, so please let me know in the comments below of any npos you know that are using Periscope to engage their supporters.

 Caroline Avakian, Socialbrite’s Managing Partner, is a global development communications strategist in the New York City area with a focus on strategic communications, technology, and innovation. Contact Caroline by email, see her profile page, visit her website, follow her on Twitter or leave a comment.

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3 thoughts on “Nonprofit Case Study: Periscope for Nonprofits

  1. Actually, I did some shorter-than-intended videos. those with the foremost audience traffic had short however attention-grabbing titles, that created our video stand out from the gang.