A few decades ago, when an important global event was happening, we crowded TV sets to watch live coverage from our local station. Later, we’d follow 24-hour footage on CNN or BBC. They generally had a camera angled at the venue throughout, then they’d pop in and out of the feed when something exciting happened. The rest of the time, we could watch their regular programs. Of course these days, hardly anyone watches TV. Even better, everyone has the power to create their own ‘live shoot’ using their mobile phone or hand-held camera.
Shooting your footage is one thing. You still need a ‘channel’ where viewers can tune in and watch your feed. Social media platforms do this really well, because people already ‘live’ on their preferred social media channel. You’d have to add your live stream url to a Facebook post, and remind your fans to watch it. The trick is to let them know in advance, so they can check their screens at the right time. Yes, they can watch clips later, but there’s something special about catching it in real-time, and it’s great for metrics too! Let’s look at some free Facebook live streaming software options.
- Facebook Live
The obvious choice is to use Facebook’s own streaming app. Because it’s in-built, it’s easier to integrate than any other platform. It gives you access to Facebook’s comprehensive analytics. You can, for example, tell exactly when fans joined or left the stream. In de-brief, this can help you identify which aspects of your content are of most interest to customers, which is helpful for future content creation. You can stream from your mobile phone, and receive/respond to fan feedback live in mid-stream.
- YouTube Live
The main disadvantage of Facebook Live is the algorithm. The feed will easily get lost in constantly shifting timelines, making it virtually impossible to find later. This is where YouTube Live beats Facebook. As much as the algorithm influences what stays at the top of the page, YouTube has easy search tools so you can find the video or channel you need in seconds. Another benefit is YouTube live allows multiple hosts – you can link up to 10 broadcasters on the same video feed, just like cable news. Like Facebook Live, YouTube live is a free tool, though both can be harnessed for profit via their optional advertising models. And since they’re both free, there’s no reason you can’t do both streams simultaneously.
This livestreaming platform is popular with gamers, but others can use it too. Its paid version is roughly $5 to $10 a month, but it has a free option that enables HD streaming, with all the necessary streaming tools. Its most common use is video game promotion – it’s a standard tool for gamers who broadcast live game-play with running commentary. This is a niche space with its own billion-dollar following. But if you want to draw a more general audience, maybe to launch a new game that’s less – niche-y – you can create a post that puts this Facebook live streaming software onto your Facebook feed.
Open Broadcasting Software Studio has tons of editing features and a comprehensive sound booth, so it really is a studio. Downside? It has no mobile access – just Windows, Mac, and Linux. But it can easily be linked to YouTube and Facebook, and it allows deep-dive editing in real-time, which the previous platforms don’t facilitate. Also, as open-source, there’s no official tech support, just user forums. Though, in a way, crowd-sourced support is more helpful because it comes from a user perspective, isn’t trying to sell you anything, and often (but not always) has more user-friendly, no-too-techy language.
This Facebook live streaming software is sometimes described as ‘Video Twitter’ because of its usability. It’s an ad-hoc product marketed to younger crowds, and is a mobile-first platform (though it works on computers too). Just point, shoot, pick a hashtag, and click ‘Go Live’ to stream. It works with both Android and iOs, and is completely free.