Zoom VS BeLive: My Experience with Third-Party Tools to Host Facebook Live-Streaming Interviews


As live-streaming gains popularity, more people are using third-party tools to host or participate in Facebook live shows and interviews. I am an avid live-streamer and use it as part of my work. Recently, I launched a Facebook live show titled, Classroom Without Walls, Using Technology to Reimagine Education. During my show, I interview leading professors and professionals regarding their use of social media and technology as a pedagogical tool.

As a result of my show, I have been experimenting with various tools to facilitate Facebook Live interviews. In this article, I offer you a review of the three tools that I have used when conducting Live streaming interviews on Facebook. I listed them from my least to my most favorite one.

I. Conduct Live Streaming Interviews Natively on Facebook 🌟🌟🌟

Conducting live-streaming interviews natively on Facebook is the easiest and the cheapest option. However, it is not without shortcomings. Please see below for a specific breakdown of pros and cons.

Pros

✅ Free

✅ Easy to set up. All you need is your phone and a pair of earphones if you want.

You simply need to go live first through your Facebook account and the guest needs to be watching your show through his or her Facebook account. After you go Live, you can swipe your phone screen to the right and then you will see a feature at the bottom of the screen that asks you if you want to invite any guests who are watching your show to join you on the live-streaming. Simply click on whomever you want to invite, and then your guest will be on the screen with you. It takes two seconds.

Please note that I am not sure if this works well on desktop. It has only worked for me on my mobile phone (iOS). Nevertheless, this is a great option for people who simply want to give live-streaming a try. You really don’t need anything special to get started.

Cons

❌ If you tend to hold your phone vertically like I do, the layout of doing Facebook live natively on Facebook is not the prettiest. As you can see from the image (one) below, the host is in the center of the screen and the guest appearing in a small box on the right top corner of the screen. Unless you hold your phone horizontally, you will see a nice split screen between you and the guest. See image two.

Doing Facebook live natively on Facebook while holding your phone vertically (image one)
Doing Facebook live natively on Facebook while holding your phone horizontally (image two)

❌ If you don’t have a tripod and are using your hand to hold your phone, any movement can cause the little box of your guest to block your face, which happened to me several times. In fact, one time, I had someone tell me in the comment section that my guest was blocking my face. Definitely not a pleasant layout especially if you have people watch the replay.

❌ You can NOT do live interview on Facebook natively on your desktop. You have to use a smart phone.

II. Zoom 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Zoom is the platform that I have been using the longest because I subscribed to its service for a few months. There are several features that I absolutely loved about Zoom, and a few things that I wish were better.

Pros

✅ A 24/7 online support system. This has helped me tremendously when I just started using Zoom. They have an excellent customer service.

✅ You can record your Facebook live-streaming interviews/shows. This will help you if you want to edit the audio to become podcast shows.

✅ You can share your screen when you go live.

✅ You can choose to have your Zoom webinar simultaneously go live on either Facebook or YouTube.

✅ A nice split screen layout between the host and the guest. See Zoom Image 1 below. However, it took me several attempts to get to this layout. When you start your video, you have to make sure to select “Gallery View.” Otherwise, you won’t have the guest and the host show up on the screen at the same time. Instead, only whoever is speaking will show up on the Facebook Live screen. This happened to me a few time. It’s definitely not the best way to engage in interviews.

Zoom Image 1. Split screen between the guest and the host.

✅ Zoom does have lots of nice features for meetings and webinars such as asking questions, doing polls, and many others. However, as my sole purpose is to use a third-party tool to go live on Facebook, all the additional features are not that useful to me. But, if you do host lots of meetings/webinars, Zoom can be a great tool.

Cons

❌ Cost. Pretty expensive to use. The feature that allows you to record your interviews and to do Facebook live streaming at the same time costs about $50 a month. To me, that is not cheap.

❌ Complicated to set up. It takes me several steps to set up a Facebook live-streaming interview. I failed three or four times before I finally got everything correct. Zoom allows you to schedule Meetings or Webinars. If your sole purpose is to have your show go live on Facebook, make sure that you select the Webinar option. See the first image below (Zoom Image 2). Then, make sure you turn on VIDEOS for both the Host and the Panelists (Zoom Image 3). Otherwise, you won’t be able to see your panelists/guests. Then, when you start your webinar, you will see “MORE” (Zoom Image 4) at the bottom of your screen. Click on “More” and you have the option to go Live on Facebook or YouTube and record your interview.

Zoom Image 2. Select “My Webinars” to schedule a Webinar
Zoom Image 3. Make sure you turn on Videos (in the middle of the screen) for both the Host and Panelists
Zoom Image 4. Click on More at the bottom of the screen and you will see the option to go Live on Facebook

III. BeLive 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

I haven’t used BeLive that many times, but have heard lots of great things about the platform. BeLive used to be free, but not anymore. Nevertheless, it is cheaper than Zoom if your sole purpose is to use a third-party tool to go Live on Facebook. See below for a breakdown of the pros and cons of BeLive

Pros

✅ Two-month free trial period

✅ Cheaper. Cost $20 per month

✅ Screen share

✅ A supportive and active Facebook community of BeLive users who share content and support each other on the live-streaming journey.

✅ BeLive has a nice-looking caption for each person’s name (See BeLive Image 1). When you use Zoom, the host’ and the guest’s names are so small that they’re barely readable. See Zoom Image 1 above. The names are at the right left corner of the screen. Can you spot them?

BeLive Image 1. Nice caption for each person’s name.

✅ When you use BeLive to go Live on Facebook, you can show people’s comments on the Facebook live screen (See BeLive Image 2). This is one of my favorite features of BeLive. Please take a look at BeLive Image 3 to see how to do this. On the right side of the BeLive screen, you can see viewers’ Facebook comments natively on the BeLive platform. Whichever comment you want to have it shown on the Facebook live-streaming screen, simply click on that comment and it will automatically show. You can have the comment appear on the Facebook interview screen for as long or short as you want. Simply click on “Hide Current Comment.” The comment will then disappear.

BeLive Image 2. Project viewers’ comments onto the Facebook Live screen.
BeLive Image 3. On the right side of the screen, you can see people’s Facebook comments live natively on BeLive.

✅ Choose various layout to display the guest and the host. See the image below (BeLive Image 4). You can simply just show the guest, split the screen in different portions, or just show the host. I always choose the third option, an even split of the screen between my guest and me.

BeLive Image 4. Various layouts on BeLive to display the guest and the host. Image obtained from here

✅ Here is a great trick that I learned from my friend, Madalyn Sklar, that can help you generate more audience engagement. Once you schedule an interview on BeLive, BeLive will give you a link that you can share with your show guest. Here is the cool part. You can also pin that BeLive link in the comment section during your live show (BeLive Image 5) so that your audience can click on the BeLive link and join the live video chat.

BeLive Image 5. Pin your BeLive link in the comment section during your live show.

Now BeLive allows four people to be on live screen at the same time (BeLive Image 6). It used to be only two people, but now FOUR people can go live on Facebook at the same time. When you insert the BeLive link in the comment section during your live show, two additional people in the live audience can join you and your guest on the live video chat!

Be Live Image 6: Four people can simultaneously join a live session.

Cons

❌ Cannot record your interviews on BeLive. However, Facebook does help you record your videos. You can easily download your videos from Facebook and upload them to other places such as YouTube.

❌ BeLive sometimes is not very stable. Luckily, they do have excellent customer services.

Conclusion

These are the three tools that I have experimented with to go Live on Facebook to conduct interviews. What’s your experience like? What’s your favorite platform? I hope the article is of use to you if you are trying to decide a third-party tool to use. Regardless what you decide to use, the most important step is getting started.

When it comes to live-streaming, you don’t have to be perfect; your set up doesn’t have to be perfect; and you certainly don’t have to break your bank. What matters the most is your CONTENT. Your content attracts your audience to you. Be yourself and be authentic. Offer value consistently!

Ai Addyson-Zhang is a professor, speaker, live streamer, social media expert, and digital learning consultant. She connects the dots between social media and education. Ai is on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram @AiAddysonZhang. She’s the host of a weekly Facebook live show, Classroom Without Walls — Using Technology to Reimagine Education, on every Wednesday at 5PM, EST.