Although Instagram is best known as a platform to share your most beautiful photographs, video is becoming a bigger and bigger part of the popular platform. Having launched Instagram Stories and IG Live in 2016, the platform (and its users) are embracing ephemeral and long-form videos.
If you don’t currently have a video strategy on Instagram, plenty of data supports creating one. For instance, research from Socialinsider found that videos generate more comments than any other type of Instagram post, with the largest accounts seeing twice as many comments on video posts than images. Moreover, a separate study from HubSpot and Mention discovered that Instagram video posts receive twice the engagement of other post types.
This post will dive into Instagram Live, the feature within Instagram Stories that allows users to stream videos to followers and interact with them in real-time. IG Live’s temporary nature makes it the perfect way to add video to your Instagram strategy; marketers can produce live videos without a lot of time or budget, and they appeal to brand audiences. A New York Magazine survey found that 80% of users following brands would rather watch live video than read a blog, while 82% prefer live video to a brand’s social posts.
User interest in live video isn’t the only reason you should consider adding the feature to your strategy. Instagram Live is also great at boosting discoverability and engagement. Here are a few more ways the feature can help with this:
- Live video is given priority in the newsfeed.
- Your content gets bumped to the first position in Stories at the top of users’ feeds.
- Followers who haven’t turned off notifications will receive a message alerting them that you are going live.
- Speaking and interacting directly with your audience is a great way to build relationships and trust.
Now that we’ve convinced you of IG Live’s importance, check out our top 23 Instagram Live tips.
Before You Go Live On Instagram
1. Set a Goal for Your Instagram Live Broadcast
Instagram Live has been around for the best part of a decade now, so don’t expect the novelty value of live content to bring in the crowds — people have seen it all before. If you speak directly to your audience via Instagram Live, you need a good reason to ask them to tune in. Despite the short lifespan of live videos, it’s essential to identify a goal for each time you go on air.
Here are some popular reasons to host one:
- Reach new audiences
- Announce a product or collection launch
- Explain how to use a product or service
- Demonstrate thought leadership
- Reward loyal customers with exclusive content
Whatever reason you have for hosting your Instagram live stream, think about the desired action you want your audience to take, and remind them of it throughout the video. Identify which metrics you will use to track whether the live stream meets your expectations.
2. Come Up With Engaging Instagram Live Ideas
Next, it’s time to develop some engaging Instagram content ideas that align with the overarching objective of your live broadcast. Consider which stage you’re targeting in the conversion funnel when developing themes and topics.
People at the very top of the funnel have little or no knowledge of your brand, so they need something compelling to draw them in — an interesting, engaging topic with broad appeal that may not be directly connected to your product or service. As they move further down the funnel, they become more interested in what you do and how you compare to other brands in your niche.
To help you out, we’ve identified some potential Instagram Live ideas for each funnel stage:
Of course, not all content ideas will be suitable for every brand, and there are almost certainly some topics we’ve not included here that would resonate with your audience. Regularly review your Instagram Live metrics (more on that later) to understand what content plays best with your audience.
3. Practice and Prepare
Your videos shouldn’t be overly scripted or rehearsed, but it’s always a good idea to have a plan. Ahead of your live stream, create a loose script and run through what you want to say, including:
- Key talking points, statistics, and facts
- A reminder of your guests’ names, jobs, and other background information (if relevant)
- Details of any promotions you’re running (like discount percentages, inventory levels, and how long it lasts)
- Calls to action (like “download our new ebook” or “don’t forget to comment”)
Preparation will reduce the chances of mistakes while you’re live. It’s also good to know how long your live stream will last.
Once you’ve practiced your script a few times, take test videos and look for areas to improve the audience’s experience. Instagram has added a helpful “practice mode” to Insta Live, allowing you to test yourself on camera without broadcasting to an audience (or notifying anyone that you’ve gone live). Switch it on by pressing this icon:
Note that you can’t save your text videos unless you’ve specifically chosen to archive all your live videos for 30 days (we’ll explain how to do this in the next step).
Once you’ve tried a few test runs, it’s time to give yourself some honest feedback. When reviewing your test videos, ask yourself:
- Is the background distracting?
- Is your audio clear?
- Is your camera steady?
- Is your video well-lit?
You don’t need to get things absolutely perfect — people expect live videos to be less professional and polished than pre-recorded videos. But as an absolute minimum, you want your audience to be able to hear what you’re saying.
4. Configure Settings to Save Your IG Live Automatically
Visit Instagram Story settings by hitting the gear icon in the top right corner of your Stories screen:
From this screen, you can toggle on (or off) the settings to:
- Add your video to your Stories
- Allow sharing
- Archive your video for 30 days
- Post automatically to Facebook Stories
All of these features can help to increase the reach of your video.
You can also choose to share the video with specific followers from this screen. This feature is great when you have exclusive content you want to share with a particular group of customers.
5. Promote Your Live Stream in Advance
Once you’ve decided on a date, time, and topic for your Instagram Live, let your followers know about it in advance. This way, they can set the time aside and tune in. Instagram Stories is an excellent platform for pre-live promotion because the audience anticipates seeing your brand on their Stories. We also recommend using all your other media to build buzz for the live stream. Email can be handy, especially if you include an ‘add to calendar’ option for readers.
6. Embrace the Ephemeral Nature of IG Live
Make sure to discuss the limited-time nature of the video and any exclusive offers that will be available both ahead of time and throughout your live stream. Capitalize on your audience’s FOMO – make them feel they can’t afford to miss out on the live stream. Consider offering a limited-time-only coupon code or making a big announcement during the video to encourage your audience to tune in when you are live.
What to Do On Instagram Live
7. How to Instagram Live
Before we go any further, it’s worth explaining how to go live on Instagram for the first time.
Instagram has always been a pretty user-friendly app, and Insta Live is no different: just swipe left from your Instagram feed and scroll through the tabs at the bottom of the screen until you reach “Live.”
Then simply press the white Live button to begin your broadcast.
8. Pin Your Video’s Title
Your audience will likely grow as your video progresses. You can give those who join in late some context by pinning the ‘title’ of your Live broadcast. To pin a title, follow these instructions:
How to pin a title to your Instagram Live video
- Start your IG Live
- Navigate to the ‘pin comment’ feature and then type the ‘title’ of your video in the comments section of the Live Feed
- Tap the comment to pin it
9. Reiterate Your Video’s Purpose
Your viewers likely saw your live stream promotion and scheduled their attendance in advance. Others will simply have stumbled across your live stream. Maybe they’ve seen your content before and are curious about what you’ve got to say.
Either way, one of the most effective IG Live tips is to reiterate what you’ll be doing on your live stream –– the Instagram Live topics you’ll be discussing, the questions you’ll be answering, and the problems you’ll be solving. That reassures people they’re in the right place and gives them a reason to keep watching.
10. See Who’s Watching Your Live Stream
To see who is watching your Live broadcast, tap the eye icon at the top of your screen:
As you go live more often, you may start to recognize specific followers. Continue to nurture relationships with your most-engaged viewers by speaking directly to them in your video, giving a shout-out, or asking them a question.
11. Moderate Your Audience
One of the biggest benefits of Instagram Live is the ability to have a real-time, two-way conversation with your audience. But this interactivity also brings drawbacks; there’s always the potential for someone to disrupt your broadcast by posting off-topic, provocative, or inappropriate comments.
Fortunately, you don’t have to stand for (or respond to) trolls, as Instagram allows you to silence them by clicking the “X” next to their user name, which mutes any other comments they share. You can even turn off the comments section altogether, a feature worth considering for more serious announcements in which you’re not trying to strike up a discussion.
12. Add a Question Sticker
When you post the questions sticker to your Instagram Story, people can tap the sticker and type a question to ask you. You can then answer the questions you receive during a live Q&A with your followers. This interactive feature is perfect for a Q&A live stream, explaining the features of a product or service, or interviews.
13. Ask People to DM Your Brand Account
Inviting people to ask questions during your live stream is all well and good. But if you’re broadcasting to hundreds (or thousands) of people who want to learn more, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. To make matters worse, those questions will vanish into the ether once your Instagram Live finishes, potentially leaving many viewers without an answer.
For that reason, if you’re generating a high volume of questions, tell people to send you them via direct message rather than within the Instagram Live stream. That way, you’ll have a permanent record of the question, making it easier to follow up after the event.
14. Use the Add a Friend Feature to Interview Someone in Your Live Video
Adding friends to your Livestream not only creates a more engaging experience but also allows you to tap into another person’s followers. Adding friends expands the reach of your Livestream beyond your audience.
You can add up to three friends to join your Instagram Live stream. Swipe left to pick the live camera option to start a Live Room, then tap the Rooms icon to choose your guests. Instagram will show you the people who have requested to go live with you. You can also use the search function to find a specific guest. Add up to three guests simultaneously, or start with two guests, then add a surprise third guest later on –– the choice is yours!
15. Change Your Camera View
(Most) live TV shows don’t stick with the same camera angle for the entire broadcast, nor should your Instagram Live. Keep things fresh by switching between your front and rear-facing cameras, either by clicking the rotate button at the bottom of the screen before starting your Live recording.
Or, click the same button in the right-hand menu during your live broadcast.
16. Brighten Up Your Insta Live With Effects
Like any other type of Instagram post, you can add effects to your live videos, altering how your content appears. Some simply make your content look more aesthetic by emphasizing specific colors or softening the background; others make it look like your office is on fire.
Don’t do this on a whim. We’d recommend looking at the various effects during the testing stage rather than randomly selecting one mid-broadcast. You want something that aligns with your brand and adds to your messaging rather than distracting from it. And don’t get carried away with all the different options. Just as you wouldn’t change your font for every paragraph of an email or blog post, don’t keep chopping and changing effects throughout your live broadcast — it’ll just put people off.
There are two ways to access effects in Instagram Live. You can either scroll through the various effects before starting your live video:
Or, apply an effect mid-recording by tapping the effects button and choosing your desired effect from the options at the bottom of the screen:
17. Share Images and Videos During Live Broadcasts
You’re not solely limited to the content captured by your front and rear-facing cameras. Instagram also allows you to share images and videos with your audience by clicking the picture button during your broadcast, then selecting the relevant content from your library:
As you can see, these visual elements appear in the background of your Insta Live, so you can use them to level up your backdrop if your office isn’t as aspirational as it could be.
You can also use this feature to promote your products or services. For instance, if you’re using your latest live broadcast to announce a forthcoming launch, you could share screenshots, product photos, or concept images with your audience, helping them visualize what you’re discussing.
18. End With a Call to Action
Remember the goal you defined in step #1 of this process? Now’s the time to reinforce it. Tell viewers exactly what you want them to do next, whether clicking a link in your Instagram bio, following your brand on a different channel, or recommending you to their friends. Just make sure your CTA is memorable and relatively easy to follow; even your most loyal followers are busy people, so don’t expect them to jump through too many hoops for you.
What to Do Post-Stream
19. Share Your Video to Your Instagram Stories
To get the most eyes on your video, save it to your Stories so that those who missed it can watch it for the next 24 hours. You can also create an Instagram post alerting followers to check out your video before it disappears. However, there are a couple of things to bear in mind when sharing previous live video footage.
- No likes or comments from your original video will appear in the live broadcast replay.
- You can’t edit your live broadcast before sharing it as a reply.
- Once you share a live video as a replay, your viewer numbers will restart.
20. Share a Wrap-Up Video
In the same way that you create a pre-broadcast video to promote your upcoming Insta Live broadcast, it makes sense to record a post-event wrap-up video that:
- Summarizes what you discussed
- Shares any important news you announced
- Teases your upcoming Instagram Live event (if you’ve got one scheduled)
That way, people who missed your livestream will know to look out for the next one, helping you grow a community around your Instagram Live content.
21. Review Your Direct Messages and Follow up With Anyone Who Reached Out to You
If followers asked questions or made comments via direct message during your livestream, it’s essential to respond to them right away while your brand is still top of mind. Use these direct messages to keep the one-on-one conversation going as long as possible – ask for feedback and get to know them.
22. Make Sure You Save Your Video to Your Camera Roll
Instagram’s Live Archive function allows you to view your last 30 days of live streams and decide if you want to share, save, or delete them:
How to access your Instagram Live Archive
Saving your live video allows you to share it to other platforms. It’s also a good idea to replay it to learn what you liked and didn’t like about the live stream. This review is valuable to make adjustments for future IG live streams.
23. Take Note of Your Video Metrics to Use as Benchmarks for Future Live Videos
Revisit the goals and metrics you set before your live stream and assess how this video performed. If it’s your first live stream, use these metrics as a benchmark for future campaigns.
According to Animoto, video is the number one type of content consumers want to see from brands on social media. Live video, in particular, can drive more engagement, increased interaction, and, ultimately, greater results. Instagram Live can potentially push your audience even further through the customer cycle.