March 16, 2017

Pros and cons of live streaming

Published: 16 March 2017 

Live video has recently started to take off on social media. While it gained popularity on YouTube, you can now find it on all the big social media platforms, or even use apps such as Periscope.

Businesses are already using this new technology to their advantage. BMW used Periscope to launch its M2 model, which attracted more than 5000 people in the first 10 minutes, and in total made 16.6 million impressions. Buzzfeed used Facebook Live back in April 2016 to put rubber bands on a watermelon to see how many it took before it blew up. A ridiculous premise, but the 45 minute long live video amassed 807,000 viewers at its peak.

It’s obvious that there are clear advantages to using live streaming to promote your business. But is it the right medium for your business? To help you decide, we’ve made a list of pros and cons of live streaming.



  • It’s easy

Unlike pre-recorded material, live streaming is really easy to use. You don’t have to worry about editing footage and doing several takes if something goes wrong. All you need is to sign up to the social media platform you want to go live on, whether that be YouTube, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. All these services are free, so it won’t even cost you anything to make a live video.  

It’s also easy for viewers to engage with. They don’t even have to visit your website, they can simply watch and engage with the video through the particular social media platform or app.

  • It’s popular

You can achieve a surprisingly large reach using live streaming. You only need to look at businesses such as Dunkin Donuts to see what success you can have with live streaming. Dunkin Donuts took advantage of live streaming by showing viewers how it creates new products, with a donut-themed wedding cake being the finale piece. The video of the cake being made gathered 36,000 viewers, which is fairly impressive when you consider what was actually being broadcast.

  • Longer Viewing

With live videos, there’s no option to pause and come back to watch more later as you can with embedded video. This means people are more motivated to watch the entirety of the content. After all, viewers don’t know what they’ll miss if they stop watching. If your content was engaging enough for a viewer to watch all of it, chances are they’ll be interested in other content you post, whether that be other live streams, or status updates, images or blog posts.

  • Lots of platform options
Source: Facebook

As a result of the popularity of live streaming, it is now available on many social platforms. This means you don’t have to make your viewers sign up to a platform they weren’t a member of in order to watch your live video. Chances are, they are already a member of the platform you’re streaming on. Just make sure you know what platform you’re going to get the most engagement on. If you’re unsure, test out live video across several platforms and see which one gets the most views.

  • Engaging

One of the main things you want to do on social media is engage with your audience. Live streaming is a great new way to engage and interact with your audience. Consider hosting a live event that your fans can attend, and live stream it. This works for lots of industries - real estate companies can broadcast auctions, retail can stream store or product launches. The options are limitless. If you’re going to hold an event, just make sure to publicise the event, and let people know it will be live streamed, in case they can’t make it in person but will watch it online.



  • Technical errors

While you don’t have to worry about post-production, you do have to worry about technical errors occurring while you’re streaming live. The error doesn’t even need to happen on your end - if the viewer has a slow Internet connection (which is often the case in Australia), the video may often stop to buffer, or be of low quality. This can be frustrating for viewers, and result in them not watching the stream.

There can also be glitches with the platform. As Mediashift found with its Facebook Live stream, the app may crash during the stream. As Facebook Live is relatively new, users can expect some glitches, such as the stream being slow or laggy, or having audio issues.  

  • Timing    

One of the biggest cons of live streaming can be knowing when to start the stream. This can be especially difficult if you’re with an international business with customers in different time zones. While you might have loyal customers, chances are they aren’t going to wake up in the middle of the night to watch your live stream.

To solve this, some businesses do the same live show at numerous times throughout the day to cater for the different time zones. However, this isn’t always an option for businesses, especially if you’re strapped for time. If this is the case, it’s best to look at your data and analyse when most of your audience is online and start your stream then. Remember to let your audience know in advance that you will be posting a live video to avoid people missing out.

  • Monetization

Businesses will often want to know how much money they will be making out of a new venture. After all, what is the point of undertaking an activity if there’s going to be no profit? Unfortunately, if you’re using an app such as Periscope, you will find there is no monetization. Periscope doesn’t have the capability to support pay-per-view sales, subscriptions or ads. So while it’s a great way to engage with your audience, you’re not likely to see a revenue increase directly from the live stream. Instead, you have to rely on people seeing the video and then visiting your website to purchase your products or services.

  • Videos aren’t saved  

Facebook Live seems to be one of the few options where live video is saved. However, if you’re using Periscope or Instagram, your live stream won’t be saved. Periscope’s streams are deleted after 24 hours, while Instagram’s disappear as soon as you're done. This is helpful if you’re posting something that isn’t too serious and doesn’t need to be saved online forever. However, if you’re wanting people to come back and watch your video later, live streaming on Facebook is the best option.

  • Battery life

Before you start recording your live event, make sure your mobile is fully charged. On an average phone, streaming for just 10 to 15 minutes can chew up 20 percent of your battery. There’s nothing worse than your mobile going flat when you’re halfway through your live stream. Prior to streaming, charge your phone, or invest in a powerbank if necessary.

If done correctly, live streaming can be a fun and creative way to engage with your audience. If you can avoid technical errors, and aren’t worried about videos not being saved, live streaming is a great way to reach a large audience fast.

Ben Maden

Read more posts by Ben

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