What You Need To Know About YouTube, Instagram And Facebook Live Video

What’s the first thing you see when you visit my website? A great picture of my friendly mug. This isn’t a coincidence or an afterthought. On the contrary, it’s completely intentional because studies show that customers want to see the people behind a business. More than that, they want to interact, get to know and connect. A great way to connect with them?? Live video.

Live feeds are a great way to let your prospects learn more about you. With live feeds, you can communicate directly with your target audience, unveil exciting announcements or just check in and say “hey, how are you doing?” Or rather, “how is my company doing in your eyes.”

All your favorite social networks offer this possibility including Facebook, Insta and Youtube – and more recently LinkedIn. But which is the best choice for your needs? Let’s find out by exploring some of the key differences.

Breaking Down The Numbers

Let’s start with numbers because numbers never lie and I’m a total numbers person. One of the first points to think about when determining which live option is right for you is the level of reach.

So, on Facebook you have 1.9 billion active users per month, Youtube has 1.3 Billion and Instagram trails behind with just 1 billion.

You might think this means that Facebook is going to be the top dog for live feeds. Well, not so fast. Unlike Youtube, active users are doing more than watching videos on Facebook and that’s why 3.25 billion hours of video are watched on Youtube every month. Viewing time on Facebook is at 3 billion.

It’s worth pointing out that this doesn’t automatically mean Youtube is your best bet. It will ALWAYS depend on what social network your ideal client is hanging out.  Make sure you know that. And if you aren’t sure – ask them.

How They Work

Each live function operates differently depending on the network you’re using.

Instagram: Tap the camera icon and then hit ‘live’ to start broadcasting. You are provided with a view count and you can toggle comments on or off. If your audience isn’t dodging live notifications they’ll get a friendly note that you’re broadcasting.

Once you have finished broadcasting, the feed can then become a story that will remain at the top of the follower’s feed for twenty-four hours.

Facebook: Facebook can be triggered by hitting the camera icon to the left or going directly from the ‘what’s on your mind’ feature. Friends with Live Notifications turned on, will be told when you’re broadcasting and you can choose who can see the feed. Once you’re finished, you can choose to post the video and save it to your camera roll.

Another cool tool that helps with Facebook Live is BeLive.TV.  This gives you the option to add cool frames, agenda’s, and schedule your live video in advance.  It’s what I use for my videos on my Facebook page.

Youtube: You can live stream from your mobile device or your desktop. Choose the Upload icon on your account in the top right corner and then hit ‘Go live.’ You can then choose all your options for privacy and such. Any stream under 12 hours will be saved automatically.

More Nitty Gritty Details

There are a few more numbers to break down when comparing these three options.


Youtube comes out on top here and you can create a live feed with 4K/60fps compared Instagram at 1080p and Facebook at 720p/30fps. Basically, this just means that with the right tech, Youtube live streams provide the max clarity and superior resolution.

If you are a geek about video, that’s a big deal.

Max Length:

Instagram lives can last up to one hour, Facebook offers a max of 4 hours and with Youtube you can stay on for a tremendous 36 hours. I’m not sure who is talking to their clients for this long though!  Or better yet – who actually watches a video that is 36 hours long!

Pros And Cons

So, which is the right choice for your needs?   {DON’T FORGET – the first question you should be asking yourself is WHERE does your Ideal Client hang out??  Then worry about the other features and benefits.}


Well, Youtube is probably the best for advanced professionals. It gives you video editing, management tools, and let’s not forget – this is the only platform dedicated to video. So, you know whoever is subscribed wants to see your videos.  This isn’t necessarily true for Facebook or Instagram. Youtube videos are ‘searchable’ and easily indexed so – unlike Facebook live videos – they can have a long lifespan.

However, there tends to be more explicit content on YouTube.  There are more copyright infringements than other channels.


Facebook has a cool live map feature. This shows you where live feeds are happening around the world and where people are watching them from. Facebook also provides a great notification system to remind your followers when you will be live (if you schedule your videos). It will notify followers 1 hour, 20 minutes and 1 minute before you get rolling. You’ll also be able to boost a video to ensure that you reach the max level of followers and the video is saved permanently. There’s more in-depth analytics here too compared with Instagram.

However, maximizing the potential of Facebook will mean spending money. Some users have also been dogged with technical difficulties and if followers don’t have notifications on they won’t know you’re live streaming at all. Facebook can get overwhelming with notifications, so it’s important to provide content that your audience wants to be notified about.


One of the biggest benefits for Instagram is the mobile notification system and the fact that stories stay at the top of follower feeds for 24 hours. So, you can easily get a great level of reach here. You can still save to the camera roll after the story ends too if you want to use the vid for other purposes.

The only issues are the low stream time and the limitations for both analytics and stream management. These are both things that could be enhanced in the future.

I hope this helps you get to grips with the key differences between Instagram, Youtube and Facebook live! They all have their benefits so it’s really going to be a case of figuring out which one is right for your brand.

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