Facebook Live vs. Professional Streaming Platforms

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Facebook Live didn’t start the fire—it was always burning since the live stream machine’s been churning. Although streaming live video online has officially been a thing since 2007 with the birth of Livestream, formerly known as Mogulus, it has recently been given new life by the likes of Periscope, Meerkat (RIP, gone too soon) and more heavyweight platforms like YouTube Live. Even more recently, around May of 2016, Facebook rolled out its Live feature to all its users. It had previously only been available to public figures and celebrities.

So what can you do with Facebook Live, really? And how does it even work? Well, that’s the easy part:

  1. Do whatever you want, from showing your friends your cute dog doing cute dog things to gaining social media exposure by executing viral marketing campaigns, hosting seminars and panels, and promoting live events.
  2. Hit the “Live” button at the top of your feed and begin broadcasting to your followers, all the while monitoring likes, questions, and comments from your viewers.

Watching and and being able to engage with events in real-time has universal appeal and brings real results. Social Media Today found that people spend 3 times longer watching a video that is live compared to pre-recorded video.  Not only do people watch, but they love using live video too! Many Facebook users—of which there are approximately one billion—are taking advantage of the release of Facebook Live for public use to share experiences with friends and their extended social media network as they happen.

So is it any surprise that the mainstreaming of live streaming has had a ripple effect on social media? Not too soon after Twitter and Facebook’s live features came those of Snapchat and Instagram. This mass integration into social media is proof that live video is changing the tides of how organizations are reaching bigger, better audiences. If further proof is needed, look to Facebook’s live stream of the first presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, which rounded up a massive 28 million people.

It is evident that Facebook Live has distinguished itself as a shiny new innovation on the live video front. But can it measure up to the video streaming powerhouses that so many organizations pay for? Let’s take a look:

Advantages:

  • Free! Spend $0.00 by using your phone and natural lighting
  • Easy setup in seconds for anybody with a Facebook page
  • Built into Facebook platform
  • People who have already liked a page receive notifications about live streams, which creates a sense of urgency, as well as seeing the stream on their news feed
  • Audience engagement via Facebook reactions and real-time, interactive comments/questions
  • Ability broadcast exclusively to your Facebook group
  • Live streams can be used for Facebook posts or ads
  • Social media exposure to those who aren’t totally social media savvy—many people who don’t have much of an internet presence elsewhere have Facebook accounts, so you can extend a hand to this audience
  • Feedback you receive from viewers can serve as excellent PR, marketing, and communications tools for a brand’s strategy*
  • Broadcast remains on the feed as on-demand video

Disadvantages:

  • Slower response rate
  • Live videos are limited to 90 minutes
  • One billion people are on Facebook, but seven billion are not!
  • No support: if you experience any issues mid-stream or your stream is taken down for whatever reason, you cannot talk to a human about it.
  • Not indexable. Search engines like Google don’t ever find Facebook posts, including live and archived videos, which is a fatal drawback when it comes to SEO
  • Comments tend to lag, making interactive functionality limited
  • Facebook’s algorithm changes often–practically once a month. Because brands do not control the platform, it is difficult to perfectly execute a marketing strategy
  • Video quality is the most important factor for 67% of viewers watching a live broadcast, and Facebook streams are not optimized for higher quality output or large screens–there tends to be poorer image and audio quality
  • Viewers prefer to engage content on a branded destination so they are not distracted by things like notifications

Additionally, Facebook Live doesn’t support monetization, access, and security restrictions like a paywall, multiple simultaneous streams, digital rights management, or analytics.

All in all, if your low-budget is really no-budget, Facebook Live is a decent platform to stream your content. It is integrated into one of the largest social media platforms in the world, but is lacking in advanced features. If you demand more of your live streaming platform, don’t worry—there are many customizable and feature-rich services to choose from. The top paid platforms combine hosting, broadcasting, embedding, monetizing, and user analytics into all-inclusive packages, and Primcast is just one of them.

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