Twitter Periscope vs. Facebook Live — Which to Use?

Live video seems to be the hottest new thing on social media right now, with both Facebook and Twitter pushing their users very hard to use the new feature as means of creating more content on their platforms. Gamers have been doing live streams for years, but getting the proper gear and accounts set up was always a hassle —until now. With Periscope (owned by Twitter) and Facebook Live, you can do live broadcasts from your phone, anytime, anywhere, to the networks of people you already know.

Personally I’ve come to love making streaming videos because the medium is a perfect fit for the music projects that I’ve been working on lately. Most of the music I make is all improvised anyway, so I can use the live feed to broadcast my practice/recording sessions on the fly.

These sessions get funneled directly into Tangerine Music Labs’ Fallout 4: Ambient Jams Radio game mod! It’s a performance, marketing/branding play, and product creation all rolled into one.

Although video uploads on social media has always been a thing, I’ve always resisted doing anything with it since I never really liked the process of polishing or editing videos that I made of my musical performances, on or offline. In live streaming, the expectation is that it’s live and live only, so it puts both the broadcaster and viewer in a very different state of mind. Overall, I feel like the experience is much more natural, sincere, and intimate, since there’s no room for anyone to “fix” their image before they hit the upload button online.

Live video is just improv, in other words. And that’s what I like to do.

It’ll be interesting to see how these features affect the social media space, since it’s really a drastically new thing that has the potential to change how people interact with each other online. On one hand, live streaming can be very unforgiving and intense since it doesn’t allow for re-dos. On the other hand, though, people seeing each other through streaming might make them more tolerant of mistakes and imperfections since people will just be showcasing themselves as they are, without all the glitz and polish that goes with making a “proper” video.

Maybe live streaming will really lead to that sort of “open, connected world” that Mark Zuckerberg is always talking about in his speeches? Maybe. But either way, this new world will bring a different part of the internet out of the woodwork that could potentially be both very scary and very exciting.

Facebook Live vs. Periscope

So after using each medium for a couple of weeks, I’ve noticed that Facebook Live and Periscope each have their respective strengths and weaknesses. Here they are, in a nutshell:

As of June, 2016.

One thing that’s immediately noticeable is how well Facebook’s video streaming system works — aside from a few network hiccups on my end, so far I haven’t had any technical issues with the feature so far. And it’s pretty amazing how quickly it processes everything, from capture to broadcast to storage on your timeline all in one fell swoop. Periscope, on the other hand, seems to take a while before the video is processed for post-broadcast viewing. (Sometimes it can be a bit stuttery as well, unfortunately.)

The technical issues are most likely to get hammered out on both ends as long as they continue to develop it further, which seems very likely at this point. The big difference between the two platforms, however, is its network and content strategy, which should be of some interest to artists and content marketers out there.

Facebook Live is currently limited to your friends and followers only, so your broadcast is essentially limited to people you already know. (There is a Facebook Live Map which is pretty cool looking, but not really useful for anyone looking for something specific.) So there tends to be a lot more intimacy in these performances since there’s a level of familiarity with the people who’s coming in and out of your broadcast.

Periscope on the other hand, like Twitter, tends to be more public facing. Because Periscope users are encouraged to scour the platform for new content, the likelihood of random people coming in and out of your stream out of curiosity is pretty high. You can basically tag your stream the same way you would with Twitter (especially since they’re both integrated) and pick up viewers and followers that way.

Put another way, Facebook Live feels like playing at a familiar bar, whereas Periscope feels more like playing out on the streets to random people. (I’ve done both in the past, incidentally.) Since the two companies are technically competing against each other, don’t expect the two things to work together in a neat and nice manner, though. I’ve been alternating between the two mediums so that I can tap into both networks at the same time.

Also, don’t forget about the king of video, YouTube, which could also jump into the race at any time:

Even though YouTube was one of the first sites to offer live streaming, they’ve been behind on making it available for mobile devices for some reason. There are 3rd party apps out there, but no official support as of yet.

Discovery Layer for Live Streaming

At this point, the discovery layer for both Facebook Live and Periscope tends to be underdeveloped — Periscope has very basic tags to use for your broadcast (like #music or #travel) but the UI/UX is kind of clunky and hard to find things that you’re actually interested in. Facebook has a very strong geographic layer but is currently lacking a good search system so it has a similar problem of it being very difficult to discover streams related to your interests or activities.

To the point, both platforms are currently in need of a categorization scheme to help users with discovering new and relevant content. The combination of this system with a geography layer could prove to be very powerful — imagine if you could search for “jazz bands near my location” and interact with the musicians in real time! The live-stream format would be the perfect medium to make first contact since it’s both direct and personable, making the process of discovery that much more rewarding.

Until then, however, live-streaming is mostly useful for staying engaged with your fans and followers so for the time being, your best bet is to use it for those types of activities for now.

Hope you found this somewhat helpful and happy streaming! It’s a bold new world out there.