In March of 2020, the unimaginable took place – Instagram Live really took off for the first time in its history.
A feature that had long been forgotten was finally being used regularly by A-listers, influencers, content creators, brands, non-profits, and everyday users.
The world has clearly made some major changes since then. The way people consume content and the types of content they prefer to consume has also changed, thanks in large part to the global pandemic.
In fact, 82% of people want to see brands go live as opposed to simply posting another feed post.
Throughout the pandemic, people have been looking for more meaningful ways to connect with one another. One of the most popular ways has been through video.
And now, thanks to the Instagram Live resurgence at the early stages of quarantine, we are able to connect with our favorite brands and influencers in real-time.
We can discover what they’re doing in that exact moment simply by tuning into Instagram.
This is a major win from a brand’s perspective.
Instagram Live offers the opportunity to strengthen audience relations, create true bonds with followers, and showcase a true behind-the-scenes feel for your brand – all at a low to no-cost content creation strategy.
Bonus: Instagram favors brands that use all of their features. This means it’s safe to say that posting a feed post, a story, a reel, and going live on Instagram might just be the secret recipe to success for a brand on Instagram.
Plus, you can save your Live and add the content as an IGTV once you’re done.
Helloooo content creation hack!
When you’re done filming your Live video, simply click on “End” in the top right corner and click save the video to your camera roll. Upload as an IGTV.
We’ll get to more strategy hacks like this in a moment but first, let’s cover a few things you need to know before you even think about testing your first Instagram Live.
Instagram Live Best Practices
As with anything, there are best practices to follow before you go Live on Instagram.
Make Sure Your Account Is Public
Brands should never have a private account, to begin with. But in the rare case your brand account is private, change that setting to Public before going live in order to get the maximum reach.
Have Your Phone in a Vertical Position
This way you take up the entire live screen and it’s easier for users to follow along.
Lighting Is Everything!
Make sure you have the right lighting before you go live.
I highly recommend that you get a ring light to help you look your best and take care of any glare, dark lighting, etc.
Set up a Tripod or Phone Stand
Holding your phone during an entire Instagram Live is a big no-no!
Invest in a phone stand to help you focus on the task at hand – talking and engaging with your live audience.
Look Good, Sound Good
Invest in a microphone to help you sound your best. Rode microphones are amazing for stationary live videos and AirPods work great when you go live on the move.
Now, let’s cover how you can implement Instagram Live into your marketing strategy with some strategies and examples to help you get started.
Note: Keep in mind that it’s best to pilot a few Live runs before making Instagram Live a part of your permanent marketing strategy.
Take time to play around, testing the different methods, and get comfortable with the many features that come with going Live before launching your next campaign.
There is so much room for creativity here!
1. Live Q&A with the Leadership Team
You can do an Instagram Live Q&A with your leadership team, founders, or team members from specific departments of your company to provide transparency and address questions your fans/customers/followers have.
Think Fireside chat, Live style.
Specific members of your team will be best for addressing specific topics. For example, the product development and customer success teams are going to be the best departments to host Q&As related to product and service topics.
The leadership team and/or founder of the company make a great host for topics that cover why a significant change was made in the brand.
I highly recommend having two people on the Live, one person who can ask the questions while your guest (internal team member) can answer the questions.
A big part of doing an Instagram Live is having interaction with your followers, so make sure the interviewer is asking questions from viewers who are tuning in and commenting in real-time.
Make sure to state the handle of the user asking questions – it’s like a radio shout-out, and your users will love it.
Taking the extra second to announce the name associated with the question or comment is another way of making your followers feel like they are actually a part of the conversation.
Ex: “Runswithwolves is asking when the pink purps eye shadow will be restocked?”
Ex: “PattiLaB is wondering when our new accounting software is launching?”
This Q&A-style interview is great for both B2B and B2C brands. Chat about the company culture, talk about your growth plans, dive into product launches, and more.
Pro Tip: If you’re a software brand, whenever you do a big product launch or update make sure to schedule a Live to announce it to corporate clients (you can also go Live on LinkedIn!).
2. Product Launch Live on Instagram
Releasing a new product or service for your tech startup or corporate clients? Build up the hype by inviting your clients to join you for an exclusive Instagram Live event.
This is a great way to meet your clients where they are and to reach them on another platform other than email.
Bring in your product team to do a demo of the product, talk about the building process, and really go into detail covering everything there is to know about the product.
Fast does an incredible job of creating hype on Instagram as a B2B business. When they launched their product in 2020, they invited followers, newsletter subscribers, and clients to join them for an Instagram Live, where they introduced and demoed how to use their new product.
They also do “Ask My Anything” with their CEO on a monthly basis, which makes for amazing Live content and reusable IGTV content. Check them out here.
Pro Tip: Instagram Lives can only be an hour long. That doesn’t mean you need to use the whole hour, though! Try to find a sweet point between 20-40 minutes, but don’t feel like you need to stay on forever.
Most Lives are approximately 30 minutes in length, so A/B test to see how long followers tune in to your first few Live events.
3. Behind the Scenes Experience for Followers
Across B2B and B2C, giving your followers a behind the scenes experience is one of the best marketing hacks in the book. It creates a layer of exclusivity and engages clients.
Plus, after followers seeing all the work that goes on behind the scenes, it builds value for your brand.
Kylie Jenner does a great job of showcasing her brand with regular behind the scenes looks for her followers.
From her Forbes shoot to her makeup launch, she saves her Instagram Lives as IGTVs to leverage them as even more content while giving followers a true behind-the-scenes in real-time.
Not every brand is a Kardashian brand, though.
Have a direct-to-consumer brand? Host a behind-the-scenes Instagram Live of how the product is made.
You could even go Live with a customer showcasing the product, whether it’s a new spring line of clothing that is tried on, that season’s meat specials made into dishes, or your newest and greatest vacuum line actually vacuuming a shag carpet.
- Creating a content plan for a restaurant? Host a behind-the-scenes video where the chef cooks their most popular recipe.
- Creating content for a personal blog? Showcase your home office and then talk about your agenda for the week, the goals you have, and how you’re organizing it all.
- Creating B2B content? Do an employee Lunch & Learn with 1-2 other employees and then give a tour of your warehouse, regardless of how not-pretty it is.
It’s human nature to enjoy seeing what’s behind the scenes and how things are really done. Don’t be afraid to get creative with what behind-the-scenes can mean for your brand.
Pro Tip: Invite your followers to join the Live with you! Followers can request to join – accept their request and then you’re having a Live 1:1 conversation while you go behind the scenes!
Here’s a breakdown of how to let your followers join.
4. Collaborate With an Expert on the Topic
Airbnb is killing the game with this Instagram Live strategy. After the pandemic, Airbnb took their Experiences business virtual.
If you haven’t tried one yet, Airbnb experiences are curated experiences (often similar to a tour) that you can book with locals from around the world and attend either in-person or now, virtually.
The travel company amplified their Experience business when they made the decision to go virtual and bring these to people worldwide despite quarantine.
In order to promote these Experiences, they turned to Instagram Live to show people how to take part in these now virtual tours with Hosts from around the world.
Simply pop onto Instagram, visit Airbnb’s Instagram, and check out Experiences from all over the world.
From Q&A sessions with Olympians, wine tasting in Italy, to live pumpkin carving – they’re providing something for everyone utilizing Hosts that usually would be hosting a tour, or a section of their home.
Aside from shifting gears and adapting to a new climate (quarantine), what made this strategy work so well for Airbnb is that they leverage outside guests for their Experiences, their Hosts.
Since booking traditional Airbnb tours in new cities wasn’t realistic at the height of the pandemic, Airbnb tapped into virtual experiences that can be enjoyed from your own home and used their Hosts, the experts in each area of the world, to help make that a reality.
Brands can leverage this by bringing a guest to talk about something relevant to their brand. For example, if you’re a makeup brand you can bring in a makeup artist. A food brand can bring in a cooking expert.
Collaborate with either an expert on the topic or a similar brand.
5. Expose Your Brand’s Day-to-Day
Remember that consistency is key. Make it a habit for your followers to pop into your Live feed as part of their day. This gives you the ability to make a schedule and stick to it.
Equinox taps into this by doing a daily yoga session on Instagram Live. It has created a digital community for this in-person brand and further positioned Equinox as a leader in the fitness industry.
Looking for something on a smaller scale?
Fitness Influencer Jessica Olie has done a fantastic job of Instagram Live by hosting yoga sessions to connect with her followers, invites people to engage during the Live event, and shows a behind the scenes day in her life.
She hits the nail on the head by planning daily workouts and showing them on Instagram Live each day.
This keeps her audience engaged daily and provides a clear expectation that followers can come to her page for daily workouts.
Pro Tip: Jessica is so successful on Instagram because she is authentic! She is upfront about who she is.
When you go Live, you’re as transparent as it gets. Don’t be afraid to showcase your brand’s true personality, whether that’s silly, fun, honest, raw, corporate, etc.
What Does Success on Instagram Live Look Like?
When it comes to metrics, remember that Instagram Live has limited support in the metrics screen. Because of this, you want to make sure that you keep track of how many viewers you have tuned into your Live.
Have an assistant or another team member assist with looking at the metrics during and after you go Live. Once you wrap up your Live, you’ll be able to see how many total viewers you had — but make sure to jot that down, because it won’t be saved.
Basically, we are early in the Instagram Live game. Don’t be too hard on yourself when it comes to the metrics.
Getting a few hundred or a few thousand people tuning in to your Instagram Live is a huge win. It all depends on your current follower count and how many of those followers are tuning in.
Instagram Live is still a fairly new form of content creation and as marketers and brands, we need to be open to taking the leap without getting stuck in the ROI of it initially.
It’s unlikely that you are going to go viral on Instagram Live, so instead focus on connecting with your direct audience.
Listen to your audience in the comments section and see what they liked about the Live (and what they didn’t). You can even post an Instagram Question in your Stories after the fact to gain feedback to help you continuously improve.
Instagram Live won’t be for everyone, so don’t try to please your entire audience. So far, I’ve seen success with Instagram Live across numerous different markets with different niches.
My best suggestion is to play around and see what feedback you get (refer to Pro Tip #1).
From there, you can hone in on what works and what doesn’t. Remember, consistency is key!
Don’t expect to go Live once and have huge success – consistency, connecting with your audience, and listening to feedback will help you grow.
Instagram Live gives you the ability to reach your current audience, increase your reach, there is a low-to-no-start-up cost, and it is a fun new way for brands to create engaging content.
What are you waiting for? Start creating!
Looking for more resources? Check out Instagram’s guide on going live.
- 22 Ways to Get More Instagram Followers Right Now
- 9 Expert Tips to Earn Traffic from Instagram
- Social Media Marketing: A Complete Strategy Guide
Image 1: Instagram
Image 2: Instagram
All screenshots taken by author, April 2021