Live Streaming: YouTube or Facebook?

As many churches start to stream their services live or pre-recorded, many have worked out how to do this and are now asking where they should be streaming — Facebook, YouTube, somewhere else?

Firstly, my encouragement would be to look objectively at where your church is located and who you are trying to reach.

You should be thinking through how to effectively and consistently reach your church and local community, which may not be on the platform that you personally prefer. You also need to set yourself up to do this for an unknown amount of time, so use the platform that you can for the foreseeable future.

A starter for 10

Here are some questions to ask yourselves and your team, as you think this through.

  1. What are your existing platforms?

Answers to these might help you, alongside the information below, to make an informed decision rather than the best guess. Bear in mind that directing people using your social media channels is easy and can direct people anywhere.

Your website

Before the coronavirus, websites were predominantly for the visitor. This has changed and it now needs to be the central signpost and gathering point for your church AND your visitor.

Relying too heavily on social media excludes those not on these platforms or those too busy on the frontline to engage.

A centralised, regularly updated page (eg., with updates which are pushed out through emails, leadership channels and social media, allows everyone to be kept in the loop.

Facebook Numbers

Before deciding to use Facebook Live, it is well worth taking time to understand who is using Facebook, as this might give you a better understanding of the demographics on each platform.

Facebook — 37 million UK users

What you might find helpful

  • There are significant numbers of people without an active Facebook account, who will not watch you on Facebook, either because they distrust Facebook or have never wanted / needed to have an account.

YouTube Numbers

37.1 million people use YouTube every month, very similar to Facebook and the two are forever battling it out to be number one.

What you might find helpful

  • YouTube videos are simple to embed into a website. See this user guide for instructions.

Whatever you decide

  • Know that your churches are grateful.

For more information, visit a live document being updated regularly by church communications teams from a range of movements, denominations and networks.

Writing about Church Communications, digital culture and our relationship with tech. Author of ‘So Everyone Can Hear: Communicating Church in a Digital Culture’

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