Live Streaming Platforms Best Practices & Capabilities
Which Live Streaming Platform Should I Use?
It’s one of the biggest and most important questions that anyone has while they’re planning a live stream event: what platform do I stream to? It’s no wonder that people are unsure — there are so many options out there, from Facebook Live to Microsoft Teams to YouTube Live to various RTMP (“Real-Time Messaging Protocol”) Destinations and more.
So… which live streaming platform should you use?
In short: whichever one does what you want to do, or meets your audience where they already are.
Here are the benefits of a few of the most popular streaming platforms:
As of Q4 2020, Facebook had 2.8 billion active users per month. That’s more than 36% of the entire worldwide human population, every month. There is no bigger social media platform on earth than Facebook. So, if you’re looking for maximizing your general consumer reach, there’s really no better place to host a live stream than this.
Not only is the potential audience — if you can attract viewers to your content — extremely high… the platform is amazing for audience interaction and engagement as well: viewers can comment, like, love, laugh, and care react together and see others’ reactions in real time. After your event is finished, the archive of those comments and reactions is saved along with the fully intact video stream on your company page… for all time, and for free.
There are really only two downsides to Facebook Live. One is the maximum resolution of your stream — Facebook Live limits your stream to regular HD: 720p. That’s fine for most footage, but if you have 4K video content that’s part of your show, it won’t look as crisp during the stream.
The second downside is length: if your show is longer than 4 hours, Facebook Live won’t let you stream it all in one go.
But if you want to maximize engagement with a consumer audience, Facebook Live is the best platform out there.
The potential audience on LinkedIn is smaller and more niche than the audience on Facebook: the go-to professional networking social media platform has 310 million active monthly users. But while the potential consumer audience is lower here, if your content has messaging that is valuable to and tailored for working professionals within your network, your company LinkedIn page can be a great place to host a live stream.
LinkedIn reports that “live videos get, on average 7x more reactions and 24x more comments than native video” on LinkedIn pages. So if your content on LinkedIn is already getting engagement from your followers, a live video there will certainly grab people’s attention.
If your content is business-focused (as opposed to consumer-focused), but you still want the benefits of streaming to a social media platform (i.e., the comments and “likes”), LinkedIn might just be the platform for you.
Just like Facebook, though, LinkedIn limits your event to 4 hours in length. Unlike Facebook, LinkedIn streams can be at a higher resolution: up to 1080p.
YouTube Live is arguably the most robust live streaming and video hosting platform around: it can handle live streams up to 4K resolution for 36 consecutive hours at high bit-rates (that means high quality). And, you can monetize your stream with ads and sponsored content within the platform if you want to. If your organization hosts a lot of video content on the site, you can use your live stream virtual event as an opportunity to grow your subscriber base. And, if you want to embed your live stream on a landing page on your website, YouTube can be a great host for that content.
Live video has a great chance of showing up first in searches on the site itself, and YouTube is owned by Google… which means that videos uploaded to YouTube are automatically indexed by search engines.
The downsides? The quality of engagement doesn’t match what you get on Facebook or LinkedIn — there are no “love” or “laugh” reactions available here — and there are better options for private live stream events within your organization.
But if you’re looking for the most powerful video hosting platform, YouTube leaves everyone else in the dust.
Microsoft Teams is quickly becoming one of the most popular video conferencing platforms for businesses; the platform added 95 million new users in 2020 alone. More than 500,000 organizations used Microsoft Teams as their primary video conferencing platform. If you’re one of those organizations, and you want to live stream video content to people within your organization, Microsoft Teams might make the most sense as your platform of choice.
If you need a private live streaming platform that can host up to 20,000 attendees, Microsoft Teams is a great option… especially if your company is already set up with the service. Just note that Teams caps your event at 16 hours in length… but you likely won’t want your show to run that long consecutively anyhow. Resolution is capped at 720p.
Need to host more than 20,000 attendees? Teams can handle that, too, up to an audience of 100K… you’ll just need to coordinate directly with Microsoft to make that happen.
The popularity of Zoom also exploded in 2020 as more and more professionals shifted to digital working environments. If your company has a professional Zoom meetings license, you might want to consider streaming your event there — after all, it’s beneficial to meet your audience where they already are. Events on Zoom can host up to 50,000 people. If Zoom is your virtual conferencing platform of choice, it’s an effective platform to consider for virtual events.
Both Zoom and Teams are RTMP destinations — what’s a RTMP destination, you ask?
Other RTMP Destinations
Ok, so you’re familiar with Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Microsoft Teams… but what the heck is a RTMP?
RTMP stands for “Real Time Messaging Protocol” — it’s basically a secure method of video transfer from the streaming host computer to a destination or destinations. You can use RTMP Stream “Keys” to stream to all of the platforms listed above if you want to… and also use those same keys to stream to other platforms at the same time. Do you need to stream to Facebook Live and a website via YouTube? A RTMP key will allow you to do that seamlessly.
Need to stream to more than one platform? Want to stream to a unique platform not listed in one of the categories above? RTMP is the way to go.
Not sure how to set that up? Don’t worry. REP Digital does.
There are so many places that you can stream your content to. Which platform you decide to use should really come down to which platform has the most desirable features — the platform that will help you connect with your audience in the best way possible.
REP Digital is here to help. Our team of live stream production experts has the technical know-how and creative development experience needed to make your live stream or virtual event a resounding success. Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org today to talk about your next show. Whether it’s on Facebook, Teams, YouTube, or your website, we’ll take it to the next level and make sure that it goes off without a hitch.