ASCO profile on Periscope
ASCO profile on Periscope

Last week 37,000 scientists, oncologists, PR pros and others attended the 2015 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting in Chicago. It brings oncologists/researchers together to highlight more than 5,000 abstracts with over 150 presentations of ground-breaking data.

Among the groundbreaking data has been a commitment to groundbreaking use of social media in medicine. Over the course of the conference #ASCO15 has been tweeted over 65,000 times. And while photography and live streaming, however, have never been consistently embraced by medical meetings organizers in general, ASCO has often jumped in with both feet.

This year, the grand experiment was Periscope, the live-streaming app launched by Twitter this spring that allows users to broadcast from anywhere in the world with just a click of a button.

The brilliance is that within a live broadcast the audience can interact, ask questions and be a part of the conversation. The catch: If you don’t follow someone, you miss out on the instant phone push notification. Or you can catch the replay but only for 24 hours.

Periscope attracted a handful of “streamers” during ASCO 15, including ASCO, senior columnist @AdamFeuerstein and CNBC reporter @MegTirrell.

And while the Periscopes number didn’t match the volume seen with Twitter, there was enough experimentation that we came up with a key takeaways on the Periscope game at #ASCO15:

FIRST: It’s all about your audience.

The first step is to build a large audience ready to engage. That’s easier said than done, but those who have pulled off the trick were successful at ASCO. Adam Feuerstein did well, in no small part because of his followership of more than 42,000 people on Twitter and Periscope combined.

Step two is remembering Rome wasn’t built in a day. You need multiple touch points with your established audience. On March 30 Adam announced via Twitter he was speaking with the ASCO folks about how Periscope could/should be used at the meeting. On May 12, Mandy Davis Aitken (@davisa20, Director of Annual Meeting and Conference Center @ASCO) confirmed via Twitter that all ASCO participants can stream on Periscope. Game on.

Step three: Execute. There were about 20 streams during the conference that included the #ASCO15 hashtag. Adam made up about a quarter of them, Meg Tirrell (along with her producer @jodigralnick) held her own with roughly 200 followers and four posts. The official ASCO handle totaled two streams and over 500 followers—not too shabby for their pilot year.

SECOND: It’s about quality, not quantity. Like any good piece of content, good Periscopes were rich, engaging and had a purpose. That’s the reason I and so many others tuned in to Meg’s and Adam’s streams. They weren’t streaming their coffee run; they put me at the center of ASCO. I could hear the presenters, see the posters, the packed conference rooms. It was absolutely fantastic.

THIRD: Keep your chin up. The human element was often the best and most “real” element of the experience. The awkward camera selfie flip and seeing Adam’s mug for three seconds, catching Meg mid-hair flip before the interview started, the camera shot turning down a bit because the person’s arm started to get tired holding their phone … that stuff is golden. All those moments strung together made for good entertainment.

Periscope use at medical meetings has potential to be the future of medical meetings. If you’re going to take the plunge and start streaming you need three things: the right audience, engaging content and the right attitude. After all, if you fall on your face while live streaming and it’s up for 24 hours… you need to at least have the good sense to laugh about it for a full 23 hours and 55 minutes.