Facebook Live vs YouTube Live

Since 2016, live video has been gaining more and more traction and the trend is showing no signs of slowing down. Live video gives brands the opportunity to interact with their audience on a more personal level, offering access to behind the scenes content, or just the opportunity to engage with them in real time. With the trend set to grow even further throughout the rest of 2017, YouTube and Facebook are two of the channels at the forefront of live video streaming, but which platform should your business be using?



  • With 1.28 billion users logging into Facebook daily for the first quarter of 2017 there are already many people using Facebook regularly. If you have devoted time to increasing your following, then one of the most obvious benefits of using Facebook to stream live video content is the inbuilt audience.
  • With live video being a relatively new feature, Facebook are still trying to propel the idea and are alerting users when a page the user likes or friend starts a live video. Along with this the algorithm prioritises live video on the news feed, this enables brands to rapidly increase their reach, with some streams attracting hundreds of thousands of viewers.
  • With the Facebook Live API, companies are not limited to using their smartphone and have the capacity to use high quality devices. As well as this it offers the ability to incorporate special effects, graphics or real-time data taken throughout the video.
  • When a live stream finishes it is saved to your Facebook page, enabling any followers who may have missed the live stream to view the content at a later date.
  • As well as the video saving to Facebook, there is the added option to download the content, allowing for it to be used across other platforms to reach a greater audience.
  • With Facebook live you can select who views your stream. This feature allows streams to be targeted at a specific location or audience, allowing businesses to reach their demographic and maximise engagement.


  • The main disadvantage of using Facebook is in terms of SEO. Facebook content will generally not rank on search engines, which means that any engagement must be generated through Facebook itself. Also, because of this, older content can be difficult to find.
  • Although there is the ability to search for content within Facebook, in comparison to other sites the interface is less user friendly, meaning that live content is less likely to attract any further engagement after the event.
  • The maximum length of a live video is 90 minutes, which could result in having to split a longer-length live stream into more than one recording.
  • Full high definition is not currently supported through Facebook Live, with 720p HD being the maximum resolution



  • YouTube content is generally indexable and offers greater search benefits than via Facebook.
  • YouTube offers users more functionality than Facebook when it comes to live streaming. Although still basic in its approach to live video, it gives you the capability to schedule events to invite users and allows for multistreaming.
  • Searching for content on YouTube is much easier than on Facebook, making videos more accessible to a wider audience without the necessity for them to already follow your feed.
  • Whereas Facebook is aimed at real time updates, YouTube is predominantly content that sticks around, making it much easier for your viewers to access older videos.
  • YouTube API allows users to test their stream and preview it before going live. It also allows for private streams to be set up where the video is only visible to people who have been invited.


  • The main drawback in using YouTube to live stream is that you do not have control over your content. Although the content is strictly still yours, YouTube has all the same rights as you in terms of distribution and monetising your content. (Read more here)
  • YouTube is noted as being one of the most blocked websites around the globe. It could, however, be said that the same is true of Facebook
  • Facebook live may be more appropriate to reach a specific audience, depending on your audience and goals

Stories on Instagram and Snapchat

Another format that has grown in popularity is ‘stories’ on Instagram and Snapchat. When Instagram first launched stories last year it was deemed a copycat to Snapchat, but it now sees 200 Million Instagrammers using stories daily. Reports found that after Instagram released their stories function, Snapchat saw up to 40% decline in people viewing stories on their app.

Stories are handy to share behind the scenes content, or a different personality to your normal feed. They can also be a useful tool for relaying information to your audience quickly, or sharing exclusive content. A downside of stories for many brands is that the content is only available for 24 hours, and followers have to click to view the content as it wont appear on the news feed. Instagram have, however, been notifying users when someone they follow adds a story for the first time, or after not posting one for a while.

Are they right for me?

Depending on your type of business and target audience, stories could be worth testing, but won't be for everyone due to the transient nature of the content. For example, for niche consumer brands in fashion, retail and beauty, stories may work well with the right approach and content, but the B2B market is likely to be slower to adopt. Good quality and well planned live streaming of videos via Facebook or YouTube will work for most businesses though.


If utilised effectively, both Facebook and YouTube's streaming services are beneficial in marketing your content. The success lies in correctly identifying which one is going to attract the biggest audience and more importantly attract the audience who you are most relevant to your business. This could differ greatly, depending on your business, the content, the audience and the motive behind the stream. You may want to test both formats, and various types of content across each channel.

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