Instagram Live is a great way to stay connected with your customers, but one which few businesses are using to its fullest potential. Luckily, it’s never too late to start! In this guide we’ll explain what Instagram Live is and why you should be using it, how to prepare for a live broadcast, how to go live on Instagram and how to make the most of the content afterwards.
If you’d like to learn more about sharing live video on Instagram, become a Digital Women member now and gain access to all the latest training by our very own Lucy Hall!
What is Instagram Live and why should you use it?
Instagram Live is a feature that allows you to broadcast video to your followers in real-time. Instagram users can tap your profile picture from the story tray or join your live video directly from your profile. Some of your followers may receive a notification (based on their settings), allowing them to join you as soon as you go live. Once people are viewing your live video, they can share it, leave comments or likes and donate if you’re raising money for a cause.
Instagram Live enables you to interact with customers and share information about your business in real-time. You can connect with your audience, answer questions, show off new products and present your business’ message to an engaged audience. When you go live regularly, you can stay connected with your followers, introduce new products and services, bring your community together and share your expertise.
What kind of content can you share on Instagram Live?
Going live on Instagram is a great way of bringing your community together in a new and engaging way. As with other platforms and features, what kind of content works for one business isn’t necessarily the content that will work for another, so testing and learning is an inevitable part of your content strategy. Some ideas that you could try out include:
Share your expertise – for example, host live classes, demos and tutorials to showcase your expertise, relatability and credibility to your followers
Share exclusive content such as inside info, unexpected insights and how-tos – these provide valuable information for your customers in real-time and encourage them to tune in
Introduce new products and services. You can go live to do demos and show the different ways your products can be used or tips and tricks. You can also include information to make it easy for people to order or request services.
How to use Instagram Live
Instagram Live offers a number of features to make going live as interactive and fun as possible, while also maximising the effectiveness for your business. Just as with any other social media platform or feature you use for your business, it’s important to think about how you use Instagram Live, including planning your content, utilising the features available to you and repurposing the content in an effective way afterwards.
Things to consider before you go live
Going live can be a nerve-wracking and unfamiliar experience, especially if you’ve never done it before, so it’s important to prepare properly beforehand. Here are some questions to ask yourself when planning your live broadcast and how to address them:
1. Who can view your Live broadcast?
Depending on the content of your Instagram Live broadcast and your business, you might want to consider who can view it and interact with it. To address this, tap the wheel icon in the top left corner to determine who can view your Live broadcast, who can reply, where it saves to and how it can be shared.
2. Is your Live broadcast good quality?
It’s important that all content coming from your business, including live broadcasts, are of a high, professional quality. Before you go live, make sure you preview the lighting and any effects you may use. If you’re outside, protect the microphone from wind or background noise. And we all know how annoying a bad internet connection can be, so make sure you test your internet connection from where you’ll be broadcasting. Also, avoid using recorded copyrighted music unless you have secured permission.
3. How can you ensure community engagement?
Before you go live, it’s a good idea to make sure that your community can engage and that you have enough content to offer great value to your audience. Ahead of going live, you can ask your followers to submit questions that you can answer during the broadcast – you’ll be able to see questions that the audience submits and select the ones you want to share during the livestream. If you plan on inviting someone to join your live video, make sure your guest is ready too and that you’re prepared with a few topics/questions to discuss.
Another way you can ensure community engagement is to invite your followers to join your live video by promoting it before the session begins. You might do this by:
Creating posts to let people know about your upcoming broadcast
Increase excitement around the event by sharing information about it in Stories (for example, by using the countdown sticker)
Update your profile with information on your live session
Use a Q&A sticker to ask your followers for questions before going live and address them during the session
4. How can you make sure your Live broadcast is a safe space?
So, you’ve already controlled who can view and interact with your Instagram Live, but how else can you ensure that your broadcast is a safe and welcoming space for your community? Well, you can simply use Instagram’s comment filter. Go into your settings to hide offensive words or language before your broadcast begins. Here’s how to apply the filter:
Go to your profile and tap the three lines on the top right corner of your screen
Toggle Hide Offensive Comments from Off to On
To filter out comments that contact specific words or phrases, Toggle Manual Filter from Off to On, and type the words or phrases you want to filter out
5. What is your plan?
You probably have some kind of plan or content schedule for your use of other platforms and features, and Instagram Live shouldn’t be any different. Plan ahead to make sure your first broadcast is an engaging and interactive live session, but also to schedule live videos regularly going forward to continue providing value and connecting with your community. When determining your plan, think about:
Date, time and duration
How often do you want to go live and for how long? Choose a time when your audience is likely to be online and free to tune in. You can find out this information by looking at your analytics or by polling your followers.
What do you want to achieve from going live? Establish a goal, for example to engage with your followers or increase sales of a new product, and plan the content of your live broadcast around it.
Consider what you’re going to talk about during your live session and make sure to start your broadcast prepared with plenty of talking points and questions.
Once you’ve figured out what you’re going to talk about, consider organising your broadcast into brief segments that are easy to understand; people may come in and out of the broadcast, so keep it easy for them to follow.
Who do you want to reach and how do you want to connect with them? Your audience is an important part of the broadcast, so think about how you can make your live session informative, interactive and welcoming.
How to start an Instagram Live
Now you’re all set up and prepared, it’s time to go live. To start a broadcast on iOS, tap the plus icon in the top right of your screen. You can also swipe right from anywhere in the feed to open the Stories camera. Then, scroll to Live at the bottom of the screen to start your video. When you’re ready, tap the button to go live. It’s really that easy!
What to do when you go live
Other than sticking to your plan, when you go live on Instagram, there’s a few things to keep in mind:
Make people feel welcome as they start joining your live broadcast. Say hello and introduce yourself to your audience for a few minutes, and maybe even pin an introductory comment for people who may join later in the broadcast.
Throughout your live session, keep track of the comments and reactions coming in and remember to acknowledge them as you read them. This helps to include your community in your broadcast and shows that you value their interaction and engagement.
When you go live, you can invite one other person to join your broadcast. This enables you both to be on screen and have a conversation and is a great thing to include in your plan. Consider inviting other people in your industry, your team members or even a follower to your live video.
You might want to share your own photos and videos during your live video. If you’re on iOS, tap the image icon on the right side of the screen to share photos and videos from your library. When you add a photo or video from your camera roll, your video live stream will move to the top right corner of the screen. Note that only you can see the photos and videos in your camera roll while you’re sharing a live video.
Live broadcasts are also a great way to raise money for a good cause by adding a donate button. Once you begin your live broadcast, you can see how many people are supporting your fundraiser and the amount of money you’re raising in real time!
What to do after you’ve gone live
After you go live, you may be left wondering what to do next. The broadcast is over and so is the content…right? Wrong! Once your live broadcast ends, you’ll have the option to download your video to your phone or share it on your IGTV channel and have it appear on your profile. When your session is over, tap Download Video to save it to your camera roll. Once you save your live video, there are plenty of ways you can repurpose it to make the most of your content in fun and engaging ways:
Save your live session and share it to your IGTV. Then you can share your broadcast as a video on your feed or story. Consider promoting your live video to attract more views.
You can also edit your video to make Stories, posts or ads for Facebook and Instagram. There’s a huge range of video-editing apps in the App Store and Google Play Store that can help you create shorter clips if you’re not lucky enough to have a Content Editor on your team.
Track engagement for posts you’ve repurposed to help plan for your next live session. Monitor the views and comments on repurposed live videos to see what your audience liked most; this will help you to plan for your next sessions.
Instagram Live is a helpful, interactive way of engaging with your community
It’s important to plan for Instagram Live broadcasts just like you’d prepare for any other social media content: with your audience front-of-mind
Going live on Instagram regularly is a great way to stay connected with your audience, introduce new products and services, share your expertise and bring your community together
Instagram Live is more than just one-off real-time content; it can be repurposed into IGTV, Stories, posts or ads
Want to learn more about sharing live video on Instagram?
Join the Digital Women membership for access to in-depth training sessions, including Lucy Hall’s latest video on sharing live video on Instagram. For just £15 a month, you’ll also gain access to a range of CPD-accredited courses, exclusive digital and business resources, expert Q&A sessions and so much more. Sign up for instant access today!