Choosing the right video streaming tool

Last updated November 5, 2020

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Are you ready to organize a virtual event, but are unsure about how to choose the right video streaming tool? There are lots of options out there depending on the format you want to have. In this article, we'll cover the types of virtual events and the tools you can choose to host them.

Interactive vs. non-interactive

If your event is interactive, meaning you want your guests to be able to jump in and talk on video, you'll want a tool that lets your guests do so. These events often take the shape of a class, workshop, or training of some sort. Our top picks for these are:

  • Zoom
  • Google Meet

If your event has you do all the talking, then different options allow doing just that. Most of these will let guests add written comments in real-time, but won't necessarily interrupt your presentation. These events are often called a Livestream or webinar. For these you can use:

  • Facebook Live
  • Instagram Live
  • Youtube Live

The tools

Zoom

Perhaps the most well-known of all video-streaming tools, Zoom offers a powerful suite of features that works for many types of virtual events.

Price: $0-$40+/month

Main features

  • Works on mobile and computer. The Zoom app is required for each platform.
  • In the free version, you'll be able to host up to 100 participants with a limit of 40-minute maximum group meetings.
  • As a host, you'll be able to mute participants upon entry, enable a waiting room, enable guests to join before the host, and add a virtual background.
  • A $14.99/month upgrade gives you unlimited group meetings, the ability to host more than 100 participants, 1 GB of Cloud Recording, and social media streaming.
  • The Zoom Video Webinar feature ($40/month/license) is to host view-only events with powerful features such as the ability to manage panelist, polling and social media live streaming.

How it works

  • Create an account on Zoom.us, and download the app for the platform you plan to host from (mobile and/or desktop)
  • For each event, we recommend you use a unique link. In the Zoom app, use the + button or click "Schedule" to schedule a new meeting and make you select "Generate Automatically" under Meeting ID.
  • Once your meeting is created, you can copy the link invitation to obtain the URL. This is the link your guests will need to join your virtual event.
  • What your guests will need to attend
  • Guests will need to download the app for the platform they plan to attend the event on. You should let them know this requirement in advance, to avoid any glitches and late starts.
  • Guests will also need the URL (link) to your Zoom event.
  • Guests are not required to create a Zoom account to join a Zoom meeting.

Google Meet

Lots of people use Gmail and Google calendar, which makes it easy to transition to using Google Meet, which is Google's video streaming tool.

Price: Free up to 100 participants

Main features

  • Works on mobile and computer. The Gmail or Google Meet app is required for mobile, and Google Meet works on a supported web browser on a computer.
  • Create a meeting with just a link for later, or start an instant meeting.
  • Pin, mute, or remove meeting participants, and record a meeting.
  • There is a live stream (view-only) feature, but it is only available for guests who are part of the same GSuite organization.

How it works

  • Create a Gmail or Google account if you don't have one already
  • Create a new meeting, get a link to share. This is the link you'll include in your event description and that guests will use to join the event.

What your guests will need

  • Guests joining from their mobile device will need the Google Meet or Gmail mobile app
  • Guests joining from a computer only need their web browser

Facebook Live

Facebook Live can be used for webinars or live streams. Guests won't be able to intervene on video but can leave live comments that appear on-screen. Facebook calls their live streams “broadcasts”.

Price: Free

Main features

  • Works on mobile or computer. You'll need the Facebook mobile app to stream from your mobile device.
  • You can go live on Facebook on your timeline, a Page, in a group, or an event.
  • Moderate and restrict live comments.
  • Save your broadcast to your mobile device.
  • Add fun filters or writings and drawings to your live video.

How it works

  • Create an account on Facebook if you don't already have one
  • To restrict your virtual event to a group of people: in Facebook, create an event, make sure to set the venue to online, and set the privacy to invited guests only.
  • Then invite your registered guests.
  • You can also go live anytime, without creating an event.

What your guests will need

  • Guests will need a Facebook account and to be invited to the Facebook Event in which you'll go live.
  • Guests joining from their mobile device will need the Facebook mobile app.
  • Guests joining from a computer only need their web browser.

Instagram Live

Instagram Live is very similar to Facebook Live and can be used for webinars or live streams. Guests won't be to interact with you on video but can leave live comments that appear on-screen. It's important to note that you won't be able to restrict your Instagram live stream to a selected group of guests—all your followers will have access.

Price: Free

Main features

  • Works on mobile or computer. You'll need the Instagram mobile app to broadcast from your mobile device.
  • Go live and broadcast something in realtime.
  • Add a filter, a title, and a fundraiser to your video.
  • Save your broadcast to your device.

How it works

  • Create an Instagram account if you don't already have one.
  • Download the Instagram mobile app. You can't live stream from a computer.
  • Tap on the camera icon, and choose Live. Optional: Add a filter, title, and donation.

What your guests will need

  • Guests will need an Instagram account to watch your broadcast.
  • Guests joining from their mobile device will need the Instagram mobile app.
  • Guests joining from a computer only need their web browser.
  • Guests will need to know which Instagram account to go to for the broadcast.

Youtube Live

Youtube Live allows you to broadcast in real time. Similar to other live streaming platforms, this one doesn't allow guests to interact on video. However, guests are able to post comments in real time. Youtube may take 24 hours to activate your account for live streaming.

Price: Free

Main features

  • Works on mobile or computer. If you want to use this feature on mobile, you'll need at least 1,000 subscribers. There is no subscriber minimum to use this feature from your computer.
  • Choose your preferred level of privacy for each stream (public, unlisted, or only you)
  • Recordings are saved to your account.

How it works

  • Create a Google account, if you don't have one already. You can use a Gmail account to login and get access to this feature.
  • Schedule a stream, and ensure you set the privacy to “Unlisted”
  • Once your stream is created, you can find the stream URL with in the stream settings
  • Share the stream URL with your guests

What your guests will need

  • Guests joining from their mobile device will need the Youtube mobile app.
  • Guests joining from a computer only need their web browser.
  • Guests will need a link to your live stream

No matter which tool you use, you can use foreword to create a virtual event page on which guests can easily register. It only takes a minute to get started, try it now!

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