I forget exactly why I joined Facebook in 2007. Probably because so many of my friends had already done so, and I didn't want to feel left out. I sort of remember why I joined Twitter in 2009 -- my wife pretty much forced me to, insisting I'd like it. And indeed I did. Limiting thoughts to 140 characters was a fun challenge, and it lent itself to random musings about pretty much anything. But in both cases, my social media devolved into self-promotion, with less about me and more about my work -- namely, writing about spirits and cocktails. A good chunk of my social media friends and followers write about booze, make booze, sell booze, do PR for booze, or mix different kinds of booze into cocktails. A good chunk of what I post is booze-related. I never publish an article or blog without posting to it on Twitter or Facebook, multiple times. Look at me! My Facebook and Twitter feeds shout. I do things! I know stuff! I go places! I drink interesting booze! So please, pay me to do something!
I remember exactly why I joined Instagram. A booze publicist friend kept badgering me to do so. "You'll get really good exposure there." No illusion about sharing pics of myself or my family (although I do a little of that too). This is part of my job, you know. Look at my feed and you'll get a whole lot of pics of food and cocktails and liquor bottles and more cocktails. Look at me! my Instagram feed shouts. I do things! I know stuff! I go places! I drink interesting booze! So please, pay me to do something!
Now, all this Facebooking and Tweeting and Instagramming every time I drink adds a lot of time and effort to the mere act of having a cocktail. I'd feel guilty about doing it, but all my industry friends with whom I drink are doing the same thing. So I might as well join them, or else risk social media-snubbing the amazeballs bar with the supercool bartender who makes the cocktail that's so delicious I can't even, I literally CANNOT EVEN. The superlatives (when deserved, of course) are followed by several hundred hashtagged words and phrases to snag anyone who, heaven forbid, may not have seen what I was drinking and who I was drinking with. Pro tip: if you don't do it right and try to post everything in real time, your cocktail will sit in front of you, rapidly warming and possibly getting consumed by someone else. So learning the proper ratio of social media-ing to drinking is a must.
When I heard about Periscope, the latest social media craze, I figured I should check it out before devoting even more of my time to doing something involving my phone. But I perused with resignation, knowing deep down it would only be a matter of time before I'd adopt it and add it to my social media to-do list every time I do anything the slightest bit noteworthy.
In case you haven't heard about it, Periscope is Twitter's new app which allows users to live-stream videos to the Peri-verse. Fellow users can comment, ask questions, and generally interact with the video's creator in real time. Videos are viewable for 24 hours after they're broadcast live, and then they disappear into the Internet ether. Periscope is only a few months old; its tipping point came when some altruistic Periscopers decided to live-stream the pay-per-view Floyd Mayweather/Manny Pacquiao championship fight in May, attracting thousands of users who would rather download a free app than pay $90 to watch a boxing match on TV.
Has it taken off from there? In the spirits/cocktail industry, at least, it doesn't look like it. None of the 50 or so spirits companies, cocktail competitions, bartenders, brand ambassadors or writers I subscribe to have uploaded a video any time recently. And membership is still spotty. I found Bacardi, for instance, but only its Canadian branch. I found Absolut Vodka but not Grey Goose. I found some of my writer friends but not others. Ditto with my favorite bars and bartenders. While waiting for my friends and industry peeps to adopt the technology, I've been watching folks stream ballgames live from the upper deck, drive down long monotonous stretches of highways and try to feed hummingbirds out of a bottle cap. The site seems just a wee bit content challenged right now.
Granted, it's still early. And there are signs that the spirits/cocktail industry is about to engage with Periscope more actively. On Thursday, July 9, St-Germain French elderflower liqueur will broadcast a series of six short live films, provocatively titled St-Germain Periscope Peep Show and starring actress Hannah Simone, throughout the day. The targeted audience -- St-Germain's core following of "Bon Vivants" -- will get to influence the plot with their tweets and comments throughout the day. Michelle D. Beauchamp, VP of Bacardi/St-Germain North America, says the films are "the brand's first expression of 'Vive The Daylife' -- a live and provocative reminder to the world to stop and savor a moment of fleeting beauty before it passes. Periscope is the perfect channel to capture and share a transient daytime moment in real time."
Based on the vague descriptions of the Peep Show, I can't quite figure out what it's going to be. I'm not even sure the director, Floria Sigismondi, is 100 percent sure -- she admitted she knew "nothing at all" about Periscope before signing on to the project, which will be shot entirely on an iPhone. The seat-of-the-pants element of the project is actually my primary reason for wanting to watch it. But I have a sneaking suspicion that, whether or not it turns out to be compelling content, the concept is going to catch on. More brands will do more interesting things to celebrate themselves and the consumers who love them. Which will lead to more individuals Periscoping the creation of their cocktails in bars, the consumption of said cocktails, the drunken conversations that follow the consumption, and so on. Which means still more social media-ing for me and my booze industry compatriots.
I was going to conclude by beseeching you to watch my first Periscope video, in which I make a cocktail of some sort. But I was too lazy to do so, which may be a signal that Periscope won't turn out to be the next Instagram after all. But I'm keeping my mind open and my phone at the ready.