The Current State of Live Streaming: Everything You Need to Know

While live streaming is a fairly new social media phenomenon, it’s a trend that’s quickly grown to massive proportions.
Listed as one of top social media trends of the past two years, live streaming is an excellent way to engage your audience by making them feel absolutely included in what’s going on. There’s no editing or skewing of details in live streams—viewers see situations just as they are unfolding.
People are drawn to live streams for a number of reasons. Primarily, live streams feel incredibly personal and are much more captivating than live tweets or video updates. This is representative of a social media trend that has injected itself into our daily lives. Integrating live streaming is also a surefire way to take your content marketing to the next level!
The concept of live streaming is certainly relevant to today’s digital world, but a major issue people run into is decided which variant to use. What’s the best way to chronicle experiences in real time? What are the differences and which social platform does the best job with this key video technology?

The Current State of Live Streaming


1. Facebook


Facebook officially announced that their Live feature was available to the public back in April of last year. In the year prior Facebook Live existed but was reserved for celebrities and top social media motivators.
Facebook has continued to push the practically endless boundaries of live streams. Only a couple of months after its induction, Zuckerberg announced that the social media giants would stream their first live video from space, at the International Space Station!
In the past year, Facebook has solidified itself as the premier site for live streams and there’s a lot of data to back this up. A post by MediaKix points out that:

  • Facebook Live stream search popularity has risen over 330 percent since it rolled out.
  • In the first half of 2016, Facebook saw a 300 percent increase in Live videos being posted by media companies.
  • Facebook Live streams by top social media stars have seen a recent 20 percent or more boost in views, likes, and shares.
  • The total views for Facebook videos (including Live) could reach 64 billion per day by August.
  • Facebook Live videos are watched three times longer than regular uploaded videos and users comment on Facebook live streams about 10 times more frequently.

Just by the successes of Facebook Live, we can tell that users crave live videos. They are more popular, viewed for longer periods of time, and are more well-received; engagement levels on live streams have skyrocketed.
Curious what most popular live stream on Facebook to date is? The viral Chewbacca Mom live stream has 166 million views and over three million shares—likely because it was as genuine and hilarious and it was relatable!
Pros: Widespread audience, since Facebook is the largest social networking site, and very easy to use. Everyone and their grandma can post a Live video.
Cons: Waves of notifications could become overbearing, especially when Live videos become viral.

2. YouTube Live

YouTube’s approach to live streaming has been in the background for almost a decade. Many people don’t realize that YouTube has technically been in the live streaming game longer than any social media site—but with some nuances.
An article by Instapage points out this history:
“YouTube has been ingrained with Google+ hangouts for some time. This function allowed chats to be posted to YouTube as live streams and was offered to elite groups of publishers early on. In addition to this, live streams have actually been on YouTube slightly under the radar since 2011. Several major events have been streamed live on YouTube over the years. However, the web video giant didn’t allow users to go live up until recently. They have now updated their platform to allow some users to post live streams, straight from mobile devices.”
Back in February, YouTube started allowing users with 10k or more followers to post live streams from mobile devices. This was then lifted to be more inclusive. As it stands, those with at least 1k followers can now post live videos from their smartphones.
Pros: YouTube awards highly engaged feeds by paying some users a cut of the generated revenue. It’s also extremely easy to use, with a wide range of options and filters. Plus, YouTube is one of the most popular sites on the web—so chances are that at least someone will watch your stream.
Cons: Still only available to users with at least 1k followers. The comments fly by too quickly and are hard to miss, especially if a live stream is popular.

3. Instagram


As we all know, Facebook bought Instagram back in 2012. They’ve continued to evolve since then, and both social interfaces have fine-tuned their methods for live streams. Instagram has quickly become a popular choice for live streaming. While Instagram Live is still pretty new, having just dropped in November of last year, it’s definitely already widely popular.
Taking the “disappearing approach”, Instagram live streams are temporary. They are only viewable by friends for 24 hours, however, they can be saved to the video owners smartphone’s for future viewing.
Pros: Instagram is a middle ground for many users. Your mom and dad likely aren’t well versed in the ways of the app, but it’s slightly more conventional than an app such as Snapchat. Instagram likely caters the most to Millennials.
Cons: Lacking some nuances, such as you can’t add a title to your video.

4. Twitter and Periscope


Periscope is one of the original driving forces for live streaming. Although it was purchased by Twitter in January of last year, the app existed on its own for about a year prior.
The process of using Periscope and Twitter is simple: users start by creating a title for the live video and simply selecting “Go Live.” Your followers are notified when you go live, and streams live on in the form of a tweet. When viewing a live stream through Periscope, the app uses an integrated world map, which literally pinpoints the locations of the live videos.
Pros: Recently updated to include 360-degree video. Periscope also tends to be very news-oriented and used to cover political events, including marches and protests.
Cons: Twitter does not seem to value Periscope as much as it potentially should. Aside from the inclusion of 360-degree video, updates are rare. The capabilities are still pretty limited and bare-bones.

The Future of Live Streaming

What’s pushing the boundaries of live streams? What’s in store for the future?
Some interfaces are already utilizing 4k video quality, 360 degree video, and VR capabilities into streams. But what do you think will be the next game-changer for live streams? Please, post your predictions in the comments below.
See also: Why You Need to Add Live Video to Your Marketing Strategy Now?