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The Lowdown on Livestreaming Platforms

Livestreaming has become more popular than ever before, but in order for a livestream to reach its target audience, you’ll need to know the…
The Lowdown on Livestreaming Platforms

Livestreaming has become more popular than ever before, but in order for a livestream to reach its target audience, you’ll need to know the difference between the different platforms available. We’ll give you the information you need to utilize the three most popular platforms.

Facebook Live

Facebook added its live feature in August 2015, making it only available to its VIP users. Those VIPs had to have a high number of followers and be verified on the site in order to go live. The live feature was designed as a way for influencers to reach their followers. Currently, Facebook Live is available to all users.


  • Schedule a Stream: If you have a verified page, you can make announcements and alert your followers ahead of time that you will be live. If you go to your publishing section, you will be given the option to send out notifications to your followers. From there, your followers will be prompted to receive a reminder notification before the broadcast begins.This can greatly increase your following because people will have time to get ready for your stream.
  • Large User Base: Another benefit is that Facebook has a user base of almost two billion people. This user base dwarfs all of its live streaming competitors and gives the live streamer a chance to tap into a large audience. If your page becomes popular enough, there is no telling how many followers you can get. Facebook Live also has an impressive analytics feature which helps you track the popularity and growth of your live streams.
Anderson Cooper utilizes his large following by advertising his book on Facebook Live.
  • Download Your Streams: After your stream is completed, you can easily download it. After your stream is finished, you can go to the preferences button and click “Download Video.”
  • Facebook Live API: Facebook released several different programs specifically designed for professional broadcasters. The process can be a bit daunting, but Facebook lays out the steps in an FAQ guide. Once everything is setup, you will be able to incorporate different external video and audio sources into your broadcast. Facebook Live even works with drones.


  • Hard to Get New Followers: Even with a large user base, your video may have trouble getting views unless you are already a popular figure. There is a feature called the Facebook Live Map where viewers can search anywhere in the world for broadcasts, but it is difficult for viewers to search for specific streams by topic. Livestreamers on Periscope organize their searches by hashtags. When searching for livestreams on Facebook, you can try to search through hashtags, but the results will include streams that have already concluded. You will also get results that have nothing to do with livestreams making it a very confusing process.
Facebook Live Map: Facebook
  • Time Limit: There is also a four hour time limit of Facebook livestreams. If your video goes over the time limit, you will have to create a new stream and you may lose a large amount of followers.

Summary: If you’re a well known organization looking to give your followers a steady stream of content, Facebook Live may be right for you. With the ability to notify your followers directly, and schedule broadcasts ahead of time, your followers will be kept up to date and ready for your next broadcast.


The idea for Periscope began in 2013 when its founders, Kevin Beykpour and Joe Bernstein, were traveling in Turkey when a protest broke out in Taksim Square. They were not able to see the protest so they went on Twitter, but found the site lacking in information. This is the lens from which Periscope was formed. It was designed as a way for people on the ground to immediately show what was happening around them.


  • Good for Journalists: Periscope was created as a way for journalists to cover breaking news. The journalist just has to add the proper hashtags to their stream and viewers can easily find it during a breaking news event. Other platforms are more geared towards those who already have followers.
Storyhunter journalist, Evgenia Choros, livestreams an anti-austerity protest in Athens, Greece.
  • Hashtags to Gain a Following: On Periscope, you can use hashtags to make your stream easily searchable. Your viewership is not limited to only your followers. The more hashtags you add, the more people who can find and watch your video.
  • No Time Limit: With Periscope, there is no time limit. If you don’t know how long an event will be, you don’t have to worry about starting a new stream and losing a lot of viewers. As long as you continue to stream, you can pick up followers.
  • Interactivity: Another benefit of using Periscope is that it is very interactive. Viewers names will pop up on your screen as you stream, so you can keep track of who is watching the video. When the viewer comments to ask questions, their question will pop up on the video itself, so you will be able to see it and reply.
  • Periscope Producer: Periscope introduced the Periscope Producer as a way for broadcasters to stream through external devices including hardware encoders, DSLR cameras, and even drones. While originally only available to those who filled out an application, Periscope Producer now gives anyone the option of making professional quality livestreams.
Storyhunter mobile journalist, Kadeh Ferreira, answers questions and interacts with his Periscope audience.


  • Limited User Base: At last count, Periscope has a user base of only ten million. While it may be easier for viewers to find your stream than other platforms, the overall amount is limited.
  • No Scheduled Streams: Periscope cannot currently do scheduled streams. You can tweet to your followers ahead of time, but that is the closest you can get.

Summary: If you’re looking to cover breaking news and build an audience through easily searchable hashtags, Periscope may be the app for you.

Instagram Live

Instagram was started by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger in 2010 as a way for users to publicly share photos. Two years later it was bought by Facebook for one billion dollars. The live feature was added in 2016.


  • Explore Tab: Your Instagram Live feed isn’t just for your followers. A viewer can hit the Explore tab in the Instagram app and see what videos are popular. Instagram tailors your Explore tab based on who you follow and what it thinks you will enjoy.
  • Interactivity: Like Periscope, when people join in and comment, it will appear directly on your screen. You can see who is watching easily, and you can reply back in real time.
  • Download Your Video: When your stream is finished, you can download the video. The video will not be saved onto your profile, but can be re-watched later from your phone.


  • No Rewatch Value: When your stream ends, it disappears. You will not be able to post it on your profile. You can download the video, but it won’t continue to gain comments and likes as it would if it were posted onto your Facebook profile.
  • Time Limit: Currently, Instagram Live has a time limit of only one hour. For breaking news, that could inhibit you from being able to properly cover a story. Once the video has ended, it disappears, making it difficult for your audience to follow along.
Instagram live user interface and search feature: TechCrunch
  • Hard to Reach New Followers: The Explore tab is a very powerful tool for Instagram users, but with a live video only going on for one hour, and then vanishing after, it is difficult to attract an audience quickly to your video through the Explore tab alone.

Summary: Instagram Live can be used as an addition to other livestreaming platforms, but as the primary livestreaming platform it is difficult to work with the time limit and provides limited audience growth.

Interested in producing livestreams for events and news? Learn how you can hire a mobile journalist on Storyhunter.

By Josh Futtersak, Storyhunter Writer