Most social media providers now offer a live streaming platform. Facebook Live and YouTube are often named as cheaper alternatives to webcasting. However, we’re not convinced.

Yes, they’re free to use, but social media offers one-size-fits-all streaming platforms which don’t necessarily meet the needs of local government and citizens. In this case, cheaper certainly doesn’t mean better value for money.

Hang on, isn’t social media is where we get our news these days?

This is definitely true of certain demographics, and Facebook Live and Instagram are great for showing 30 second clips. However, their simple interface just isn’t suitable for broadcasting longer, more complex events. Connect offers a feature-rich player including agendas, indexes and attachments which are vital for a good viewing experience.

Unlike social media video, Connect viewers can navigate through meetings simply by using the indexed timeline to find what they need. Remote viewers need to be able to access resources to fully understand the meeting. These might include maps, planning forms and photographs. Social media platforms don’t offer this functionality: Connect does.

a screen shot of Connect

Social media is a fickle beast

For a start, there are so many social media platforms that it’s hard to know which one to focus on. Facebook is by far the biggest social network, but it has a problem with older people. 18% of the UK population are aged over 65, but only 25% of this demographic use Facebook [1] [2]. Facebook is also seeing an exodus of young people as teenagers flock to Snapchat and Whatsapp – both of which are far more difficult to use to reach an audience for any length of time [3].

Social media is also facing a legitimacy crisis. The ever-present scourge of “Fake News” is leading people’s trust in what they see on social media to nosedive [4]. Connect provides Councils with a neutral and trustworthy platform from which to disseminate information in its original format.

Streaming has to be easy to use

It’s very easy to stream to social media with a smart phone. It’s much less easy to stream to social media from a top-of-the-range AV suite with cameras and conference systems. In fact, it’s really, really difficult, and every platform needs a different set up. In this respect, social media streaming simply isn’t appropriate for local government.

Connect, on the other hand, works as part of the AV suite, and with camera control the meeting can be completely automated: no operator required. Connect integrates seamlessly with modern.gov and CMIS which means information such as speaker profiles and meeting resources are included automatically.

Feature rich, value for money

Connect is far more than a simple streaming platform.

We’ve already mentioned attachments, agendas and speaker profiles which give a great user experience. The interactive, indexed timeline allows easy navigation of meetings for viewers.

The automatic transcription and subtitling feature helps councils to meet ever-tighter accessibility standards. Our accuracy rates are far better than those currently available on YouTube, and they are interactive: meaning that viewers can search for keywords. Viewers can also sign up to alerts for meetings which interest them.

Connect's subscribe feature

Our unique Dual Language feature allows our Welsh clients to webcast simultaneously in two languages. Viewers can watch the meeting and toggle easily between languages – something that simply isn’t available through social media.

Finally, and perhaps most important of all, Public-i offer on-hand expert support through our dedicated service and accredited engineers. We know how important it is for meetings to run smoothly, which is why we’re proud that we fix 85% of issues over the phone.

At Public-i we really like social media. We think it’s a great tool for reaching out and building networks, but we don’t think that it’s the only tool. It is important for Councils to have a presence on social media, too; which is why Connect allows simultaneous streaming to Facebook Live and YouTube Live. Our simple sharing functions allow viewers, members and officers to share and embed clips. We’ve done the hard work so you don’t have to.

Connect has been developed especially for local government over 18 years. That’s why over 85% of councils who webcast, do so with us. If you’d like to understand more, please get in touch.