I hope that by now you are already sold on the idea of using live streaming to connect with your audience and to build your brand. Whether you're a business owner trying to get a leg up on the competition or a content creator who wants to get more eyes (or ears) on their content, live streaming is the perfect solution for someone who wants to gain more traction.
At this point, you're might be wondering exactly where to start. I'm here to help with my recommendations for the best live streaming social networks to explore. This list covers the most popular platforms and the ones that will serve you well in building an audience and connections that can last in the years to come.
Two of the Best Live Streaming Platforms
#1. Facebook Live
Facebook Live Streaming is available on your Facebook profile, your Pages, and to your Facebook groups from the Chrome browser on your desktop computer or through various third-party applications. Some of the third-party applications are browser-based and others can be installed as stand-alone applications on your Mac or Windows computers (more about these later).
You can also stream to Facebook live from their dedicated mobile app or other third-party applications on iOS or Android. Viewers can give reactions during Facebook live streams, just like they can on any other Facebook post, however they added little animations (similar to Periscope hearts) that “float” on top of the screen. Another cool feature for broadcasters is the ability to poll your audience during the stream to get feedback or ask a question relative to your actual content. This really helps build engagement and keeps people focused on the stream versus drifting off into the news feed or another tab they might have open on desktop.
Facebook live streams can be shared by your community and crossed-post by you to other Facebook pages that you manage.
Biggest advantage: Facebook groups are the best free community building tool around, and going live in Facebook groups offers you the best of both worlds.
#2. YouTube Live
YouTube Live is available to those YouTubers who have live-streaming enabled on their accounts from the desktop or mobile in the same manner listed above for Facebook. YouTube Live has been around the longest out of all the formats covered in this post and it's arguably the most stable and sophisticated interface. The live chat can be viewed in a separate tab and it's easy to follow in chronological order. Threaded comments might sound like a good thing but as someone who watches a ton a live streams, the chronological order is much simpler and easier to keep track of when you're live. Viewers can give you thumbs up (or thumbs down) during the broadcast but they can't leave comments until the stream is done.
Take a few minutes to watch this video if you want to hear more commentary from me on this topic!
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Biggest advantage: Once your channel is monetized your viewers can donate cash to you while you are live using YouTube SuperChats. SuperChats can range from $1 all the way up to $500 (YouTube takes a 30% cut). You can also earn SuperChat donations during YouTube Premieres.
The Remaining Three Best Live Streaming Social Media Platforms
Instagram is currently a mobile only streaming application. It works pretty much the same on iOS and Android although a handful of feature releases will be on one of the mobile operating systems slightly ahead of the other. You might find that there are some third-party applications available, but I would proceed with caution since Instagram has not released an official and secure API (application program interface) for live streaming applications to access your account.
Biggest advantage: If you have a loyal following on Instagram, going live will give them an opportunity to connect with you in real-time. You can also invite someone to join you on the broadcast.
Here's a quick walk-through of Instagram Live to get to started.
Periscope and Twitter Live are both available from mobile and desktop, but unlike the aforementioned platforms, these two have built in multicasting. What I mean by that is, when you start your stream from Periscope you will be live on two platforms at once: Periscope and Twitter. Since you can build audiences on both platforms this might give your broadcast more exposure. Viewers can tap the screen on mobile or click on desktop to give you hearts that “float” on top of the screen.
Biggest advantage: Twitter live is easy to use and great for people who have large followings on Twitter/Periscope.
Twitch is by far the most unique out of all these live streaming platforms. The platform's primary focus is live streaming and as such they are leading the pack in developing features to build community and engage live stream viewers. From your desktop, you'll need 3rd party software like OBS, Streamlabs OBS or EcammLive (my favorite). You can also experiment with browser-based apps like Streamyard or BeliveTV to go live on Twitch. But unlike Facebook, YouTube or Twitter you can not go live directly from the Twitch website. This might seem odd at first but once you spend some time in the Twitch eco-system you'll quickly see how and why additional software enhances the live streaming experience.
Biggest advantage: Twitch originally focused on the gaming community but recently expanded their focus to include other creators. This leaves plenty of room for podcasters, educators, crafters and artist to experiment with unique interactive features and find a brand new audience.
Recommended Live Streaming Video Software
I've mentioned my favorite live streaming software several times and here is a quick video walkthrough of how you can go live from your Mac with Ecammlive.
If my video didn't convince, this one from Justin Brown of Primal Video will. Justin covers every feature currently available in EcammLive and he does it so well that I had to include it here.
Of course I realize that many of you don't have a Mac so here is an alternative. This is a browser-based platform called Streamyard. What I love best about Streamyard is that you can go live to Facebook or YouTube and you can host up to 5 guests at a time on screen. You can use the free version or upgrade to access custom branding and overlays. It's so easy to use that I highly recommend getting started with Streamyard but it's absolutely brilliant!
Sign up for Streamyard
- OBS – Open Broadcaster Software – even though I have never used OBS I will give it an honorable mention in this post because so many live streamers have relied on this open source software over the years (especially those in the gaming community).
- Restream.io when you want to multicast, Restreamio is a cool way to do that. Learn more about it in this post.
- Streamlabs OBS – this one is for PC users only and it takes advantage of the open source API to build tools specifically for Twitch streamers
- Streamlabs mobile app – don't use the Twitch mobile app to go live. Use this one from Streamlabs instead.
Follow me if you need more encouragement, tips and tutorials to help you get started on your own live streaming journey. I promise it will be a lot of fun.
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