A smartphone positioned horizontally on a tripod films a woman speaking and gesturing. In the background, out of focus, is the woman herself.
Livestreaming is a great way to give a presentation or host a meeting without the constraints of needing all attendees in the same location. — Getty Images/tataks

Among all the innovative changes COVID-19 has brought to businesses, livestreaming is one that will stick around long after the pandemic.

Livestreaming allows businesses to host events in which employees can connect with a wide customer base all over the world. For this reason alone, virtual events are here to stay because they have a much greater ROI than organizing, coordinating and managing large, in-person events.

These six livestreaming tools offer organizations, and especially small businesses, a unique opportunity to engage with customers in a new way.

[Read more: How Innovative Companies Are Monetizing Virtual Product Sampling in a Contactless World]

Free livestreaming tools

Facebook Live

Facebook is already a social media site where users and businesses are connected through personal profile pages, groups, business pages and events. Facebook Live allows users to broadcast to their audience on both mobile and desktop applications. It's a great tool for businesses that want to broadcast an event or webinar live but don't have the professional-grade equipment to do so. The Facebook Live tool allows users to broadcast for up to eight hours; it’s also rolling out high-definition capacity.

YouTube Live

YouTube Live is a free platform that allows users to broadcast events live. Users can list their live broadcasts as public, unlisted or private to control the privacy settings and who can experience an event. YouTube gives users the option to broadcast videos live or premiere a pre-filmed video on a scheduled date and time. Users also have the ability to broadcast in 4K resolution at 60 frames per second—perfect for events, presentations and films that are visually striking.

[Read more: Switching from Live to Virtual Events? Here's How to Make the Pivot]

Zoom’s Meetings software is best for businesses that want to have interactive sections, routine virtual meetings and the functionality to encourage dialogue between participants.

‘Freemium’ livestreaming tools

“Freemium” refers to the level of use of video streaming platforms that include a platform’s functionalities in a limited capacity for free but charge for full, extensive use (and often additional features as well). Most of the time, freemium software cost structures require a yearly or monthly commitment. Two of the most popular freemium platforms are Zoom and Google Meet.

Zoom

Zoom allows business leaders to seamlessly host both staff meetings and webinars with nearly identical software. Zoom’s Video Webinar functionality enables users to create an event in which the attendees can listen to presentations, react to the content and submit comments and questions. Zoom has different payment tiers depending on how many guests are expected to be in attendance. There is no free version of Zoom’s Video Webinar functionality, though you can request a demo.

Zoom’s Meetings software is best for businesses that want to have interactive sections, routine virtual meetings and the functionality to encourage dialogue between participants. For optimal productivity, participants can be broken into smaller groups (“breakout rooms”) to continue their discussion and work. The free version of Zoom Meetings allows unlimited time for one-on-one meetings and a 40-minute time limit for groups of three or more participants.

Google Meet

Google Meet (formerly Google Hangouts Meet) is a web-based live video streaming tool included in Google Workspace. Meet is a platform to host secure business meetings and events for a team and, at only $6 a month per user, Google Workspace (which includes Google Meet) is an affordable option. For a completely free live video streaming service through Google, turn to Google Hangouts. However, as of June 2020, only consumer accounts (usually ending in @gmail.com instead of @[yourcompany].com) can use Google Hangouts for free.

[Read more: How to Use Clubhouse to Market Your Business]

Paid livestreaming tools

Dacast

Dacast is a video streaming platform that offers both livestreaming and on-demand video hosting capabilities. The service offers four different plans for users depending on the amount of bandwidth needed. Its most basic features include livestreaming, on-demand video hosting, 24-hour customer support, 1080p HD broadcasting, mobile device support, player customization and more. There are more advanced plans that offer more customization and increased bandwidth support for larger organizations. Dacast also offers companies customized plans depending on their needs.

Vimeo

This popular HD video hosting platform is also capable of broadcasting. Vimeo offers paid plans for any type of consumer, from single-user plans to thousand-plus-user corporate ones. The service can handle any type of live event. Its business plans offer features including custom branding, lead generation, connectivity with Google Analytics, livestreaming, unlimited use of stock photos and licensed music and many more unique features.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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Published June 10, 2021