Live streaming – the broadcasting of videos in real-time – has surged in popularity over the past few years. It is now considered the sole element that bridges the gap between virtual and in-person events, and that’s because it enables both audiences to engage in a unique experience at the very same time. There’s a plethora of applications on the market, such as Vimeo, Dacast and IBM Live Streaming, and purchasable add-ons through both Zoom and Microsoft Team that offer these services – but how does social media compare? Let’s see:
Advantages of Social Media Live Streaming Apps
Social media live streaming apps seem like the perfect medium; Social media is where the people are, after all. Users are already inundated with videos, advertisements, and created content, so to host a livestream would not feel ill fitting. Promoting it, even less so. This segues into the first advantage. Audience Reach. To livestream on social media is to perform at a busy mall. There’s already high traffic, so the likelihood of attracting a new fan is much higher. A curious user could be converted into a customer or a client simply because we were at the right place at the right time. This brings us to our next advantage. The possibility of going viral. Many social media algorithms push popular content to the forefront. And logically, this makes sense. Popular content is what keeps their users on their platforms the longest. Therefore a livestream that gains traction could have a snowball effect that has the entire world watching. Lastly, and in some cases, most importantly, livestreaming on social media is free.
Disadvantages of Social Media Live Streaming Apps
We all know the free option isn’t always the best option, and this holds true in the case of livestreaming on social media. Where social media live streaming apps reign supreme in reach, cost and marketability, external applications like Vimeo dominate in product features, functionality, video quality and of course, security. Social media, as the name suggests, is all about being social. It’s an open party, and that’s not always the best medium for professionalism, exclusivity, or monetization. To determine whether livestreaming on a public platform is best, consider your objectives. Are you aiming to attract as many people as possible? Do you value quantity over quality? Does reach matter most? The answer might not be obvious at first, but it needs to be considered before making a decision.
Perhaps the most comparable social media live streaming service to ones similar to Vimeo, Dacast and IBM Video Streaming would be YouTube Live — however the one caveat is that users need to have 1000 subscribers. You can read our full analysis here, but in this article, we’ll focus on the following four platforms: Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.
Instagram Live Stream
Instagram Live Stream is perhaps the easiest service to navigate. A real-time video broadcast is two clicks away on this platform, and the options are simple. You can launch a live stream to launch that moment, schedule one for later, launch a practice session, or add branded partners. That’s it — once a livestream has started, your currently active followers will be notified. And when it ends, the full video can be archived and posted on your profile. Features include basic analytics, live chatting, and the ability to co-host with a guest or audience member. It’s important to note third-party hardware and software cannot be used directly with Instagram to enhance video quality.
Twitter Live Stream
Twitter Live Stream, in comparison to Instagram, is a bit more sophisticated in its product features, however it lacks in reach. As a social media live streaming app, Instagram has over a billion more monthly users than Twitter, which is indicative of how often content goes viral on Instagram. One major advantage that Twitter Live has is the ability to integrate with third-party software and hardware. This allows users to use their own production equipment to create professional live streaming events. And like Instagram, Twitter offers all the basic features like analytics, live chatting and co-hosting capabilities.
LinkedIn Live Stream
While LinkedIn Live Stream has even fewer monthly users than Twitter, it makes up for it in the quality of their audience. The advantage of using Linkedin as a social media live streaming app, is that it is home to the highest volume of professionals and businesses around the world and has a reputation for class and prestige. Hosting a live streaming event on LinkedIn will tap into this market, and effectively support your brand and reputation. Like Twitter, LinkedIn allows for integration with third-party hardware and software, and offers all the basic features.
Facebook Live Stream
Facebook Live Stream, as it currently stands, is the most developed social media live streaming app. Although it doesn’t have the same prestige as LinkedIn and doesn’t promise the same level of variability as Instagram, Facebook offers the most product features. This, in large part, is due to their partnership with Zoom. Zoom events, webinars and meetings can all be live streamed through Workplace by Facebook. This is important to note because having a partnership with Zoom allows Facebook to leverage the advanced security Zoom has to offer.
In addition, Facebook is the one platform that allows for event monetization and ticketing. Through Facebook’s new Paid Online Event service, hosts can also require the purchasing of a ticket in order to gain access to a livestream. What this does, is provide revenue generation, but it also helps with event privacy and user authentication. Facebook Live offers all the basic live streaming features, as well as the ability to utilize third-party hardware and software.
Yes, YouTube is technically a social media platform and they do have a livestreaming platform that compares to the rest in this category. YouTube was one of the first to adopt livestreaming on its platform and it is one of the most versatile considering the ability to use it on mobile and desktop devices. This means you can stream anything from daily vlogs and office tours to studio webinars and workplace townhalls. Like Facebook, YouTube Live has a simple integration with Zoom to stream your events hosted on their meeting or webinar products.
YouTube is one of the best options because of the ability to make your videos private, unlisted, or public, which allows you to control the access level of the stream or video you are posting.
Live streaming, much like social media, is constantly growing. And as more users continue to populate the platforms, new and dynamic ways to keep them engaged are sprouting like a flower bed. Social media live streaming apps certainly have their advantages: there’s no better place for audience reach, marketability potential, and a return on your investment, but for some, it may be less than ideal. Always consider your core objectives before making a decision. And remember, what happens on social media, often stays on social media.