All major social media platforms have the option to go live, and that’s because it’s a fantastic opportunity to drive new followers, connect with your audience, and upscale your brand.
From Facebook and Instagram to Twitter and YouTube, it really just depends on where your audience is most active and which channel you know best.
Because Instagram is one of the most popular platforms in recent years that has won users’ hearts through its visual approach, we’ve put together a complete beginner’s guide on going live on Instagram, so you have all the tools you need to create a powerful video strategy.
Let’s see what are the necessary steps to use IG Live, some valuable tips and creative ideas for businesses, and most importantly, why you should integrate this unique type of video marketing into your overall Instagram strategy.
How to go live on Instagram
1. What is Instagram Live and why should you use it?
Instagram Live is a feature found within Instagram Stories that allows users to broadcast live videos to other users within the platform.
Unlike pre-recorded Instagram videos, Instagram Live is an unfiltered, raw stream for your followers that creates the perfect online environment to engage with your brand and get to know the human side of your business.
What's cool about this feature is that the people watching your Instagram Live can leave comments and questions, so you'll be able to collect feedback from your target audience and get the pulse of your community, which is what matters the most on social.
Going live on Instagram is a handy tool to connect with your audience in a direct, transparent, and honest way, which will lead to stronger connections and a greater openness to the products or services you sell.
As you may already know, Instagram Stories can be found at the top of your feed, and any accounts from the ones you follow are live streaming will have the "Live" icon right next to their profile pic.
Every time you go live on Instagram, your followers will receive an in-app notification, and your live will be put in front of their Instagram stories feed.
You should keep in mind that Instagram Live is temporary, so it will be automatically deleted once you've stopped the stream.
This is a double-edged sword.
On the one hand, it will make people click on your live because they know they would otherwise miss it.
On the other hand, it requires some preparation from your side, which we'll cover in the following lines.
2. How to go live on Instagram: a 4-step guide
Going live on Instagram is extremely simple, but it still requires four easy steps to follow.
Step 1: Tap the plus icon on the right corner of your screen OR swipe to access your Instagram story camera. Here you’ll see several types of content you can create, including Live videos.
Step 2: Once you’re ready, tap the “Live” option at the bottom. Instagram will check if your connection is good, and then your live stream will begin.
Step 3: Use Instagram’s Live interactive features to make your broadcast more exciting and engaging. Instagram offers many fun options for you to customize your live videos.
- Ask your viewers questions by tapping the question mark icon at the bottom of the screen.
- Leave a comment on the Live stream by tapping “Comment.” You can also pin a comment to the top of the feed by tapping and holding it.
- Use filters to your steam by tapping on the face with plus sign sparkles.
- Invite someone to co-host your Instagram Live by clicking the icon with two faces.
- Send a DM to someone about your Instagram Live by tapping the paper plane message icon.
- Share an image with your viewers by clicking on the camera roll icon at the far right.
Step 4: End your live stream. You can save your Instagram Live by tapping the save icon in the top left or sharing it to your profile. When you’re finished, tap the “End” button in the top right corner, then tap to confirm.
And there you have it! A step-by-step guide on how to go live on Instagram.
While this process seems easy-peasy, if you want to become a pro of Instagram Live videos, there are a few more aces you should have up your sleeve.
3. Tips on how to host a great Instagram Live
Now that you know how to host an Instagram Live, it’s time to take your streaming to the next level by adopting these helpful tips.
3.1. Set SMART goals
Every action you take on social media should have a clear objective because this is the only way to ensure social media marketing success. And going live on Instagram is no exception.
Before starting your Instagram Live video, think about what you’re trying to achieve and what you’ll be sharing with your community.
The easiest way to ensure your Instagram Live is worth the struggle is to set SMART goals.
- Specific. A good goal should always be focused and as detailed as possible. Example: “I want to have 30% more viewers in my next stream.”
- Measurable. Regardless of the goal you have in mind, it should always be measurable because this is the only way to track your progress and learn from past mistakes. If you want to increase your engagement, you’ll be able to measure it with the help of an analytics tool.
- Attainable. Think of a goal that is doable for your business. If your purpose is to gain more followers, take a look at your followers’ insights from the past six months and adjust your goal accordingly.
- Relevant. If you decide to go Live on Instagram, consider subjects relevant to your community and in line with your products or services. For example, at Socialinsider, a social media analytics tool, we often host Instagram Lives, sharing insights from our social media studies and social media strategies tips.
- Time-based. It’s easy to get excited and set unrealistic time frames for your Instagram Live strategy, so try to weigh yourself down and think of what is achievable for you. Example: “I want to go live on Instagram once per month in Q3.”
3.2. Promote your live on Instagram in advance
Exciting your Instagram Live in advance can make a huge difference if you want to maximize the number of viewers who tune in.
There are a lot of ways to promote your Instagram Live videos in advance.
You can create Instagram posts, mention it in your Instagram Stories, or even schedule it 90 days in advance, depending on what works best with your content strategy.
Going Live hits different when your followers come through 🙌— Instagram (@instagram) October 13, 2021
Live Scheduling lets you schedule your stream up to 90 days in advance and followers can set reminders to tune in ❤️🔔 pic.twitter.com/8t7BWmjEL7
While Instagram does a great job in promoting video streams by sending users notifications, it’s your job to ensure your community knows about your upcoming event so they don’t miss out on your live session.
Depending on the importance of the upcoming Instagram Live, you can start promoting it one week in advance.
If you decide to schedule it, you can add a countdown clock to your Instagram Stories so followers can select if they want to receive a reminder.
3.3. Go live when your audience is most active
Instagram Live videos are all about viewers and engagement.
So the safest way to gather as many people and keep them hooked in your session is to go live when your audience is most active on Instagram.
The best way to predict when your audience is online ahead of time is to access the Instagram Insights overview and click on “Total followers.”
There, at the end of the page, you’ll find a breakdown by days of the week and time of when your followers are most active online.
To get more complex insights about your followers' activity, you can use Socialinsider’s demographics feature to understand your audience behavior better.
For example, beyond the geographical distribution of your followers, you’ll also be able to see when your profile had the most visitors.
3.4. Have a clear plan by creating a video map
Nobody wants to watch and engage with an unprepared host who talks gibberish.
This is why it’s crucial to prepare in advance and have a clear vision of what you will cover in your Instagram Live.
Put yourself in the shoes of your listeners. Think of what you’d like to see from a streamer and adopt those to yourself.
The most important thing is to make sure you master the topic you want to cover, so do your research well.
Then write down all your essential points for your business plan and stick with those. This will help prevent any awkward pauses.
Secondly, you’ll want to have a clear structure of your speech - an introduction, a focus point, and a conclusion.
Last but not least, think of what could go wrong and have a backup plan for those situations. This doesn’t mean that you can anticipate every obstacle, but it’s always better to be prepared.
For example, if your entire Instagram Live is based on questions from your viewers, but you don’t receive any during your stream, make sure you have another topic on the pipeline or gather questions in advance.
3.5. Moderate comments in Instagram Live
Because the internet is a free space for all and online trolls’ favorite activity, it’s a good idea to track and moderate irrelevant or offensive comments throughout your Instagram Live video.
And the good news is that Instagram has introduced a new “Live Moderator” feature with which creators can appoint someone to be a moderator during their live stream.
To moderate your comments during Instagram Lives, go to “Settings” and head over to “Privacy.” There you’ll have several options to choose from.
Under “Hidden words,” offensive words will be hidden in your future Instagram posts, including lives.
With the “Advanced comment filtering” option, you can manually filter certain words, phrases, or emojis you don’t want to see in your comment section.
You also can completely turn off all comments during your live videos on Instagram, but this will dramatically decrease your engagement.
4. Instagram Live stream ideas for brands
Here are a few examples of going live on Instagram that will come in handy for every business.
4.1. Collaborate with an industry expert
Instagram Live is the perfect way to collaborate with industry experts and spread the word about your brand and what you sell.
Influencers and industry experts are already influential and authoritative persons in their niche, so inviting them to be guests in your live videos will boost your engagement and help you gain more followers.
There are many ways you can collaborate with someone on Instagram Live. You can interview someone, have a Q&A session, ask them to do a presentation, or simply chat with them.
Regardless of the format you choose for this type of live on Instagram, it’s crucial to partner with an expert relevant to your business who can directly help your community.
Of course, high numbers look good for everyone, but there is no use in collaborating with a big influencer if they have no relationship with your industry.
For example, at Socialinsider, whenever we release a new social media study, we host live streams with experts who know about that topic.
We bring insights from our studies, they share their expertise, and our community learns both theory and practice.
4.2. Do a tutorial
Another good idea to position yourself as an expert in your niche is to host a tutorial or a workshop on Instagram Live.
This type of online streaming can bring massive value to your business because you can show how your products are made while engaging in conversations with your clients or potential buyers in real-time.
Your viewers can give you feedback or ask questions and simultaneously get to know the human side of your business.
You don’t have to be a famous brand to host an online tutorial - there are many ways your brand can offer lessons to your viewers.
4.3. Take your viewers behind-the-scenes
Social media was all about perfection, edits, and filters for a long time.
But things have changed.
People now want to see authenticity, realness, and stories they can relate to.
And what better way to show your followers the real side of you than through Instagram Live videos?
Many brands and influencers already use behind-the-scenes content on Instagram stories, but doing this live is a whole other level.
It’s the perfect opportunity to show your community how you transparently do business, present your co-workers and office, and spread the word about how the magic is happening.
4.4. Do an Instagram Live at an event
Do you participate at an important conference in your industry, or is your brand up for an award? Or maybe are you presenting something at an event?
Then take your followers with you through Instagram Live!
All these events are something that your viewers are most probably interested in already, and hosting a live event will help them see something valuable for them and get over FOMO (fear-of-missing-out).
Another advantage of this kind of online stream is that it builds excitement for your next events.
Your followers will know that you are active in your industry and will continue to follow you to see what you do next.
Going live on Instagram is an incredible opportunity to reach and engage with your audience in a close and authentic way.
So if you haven’t started experimenting with Instagram Live, there is no better time than now! Especially since only a small percentage of businesses go live.
Hopefully, this guide gave you a glimpse into what Instagram streaming implies and will help you prepare for your next or first live.
Just remember - have a plan, do your research, promote your Instagram Live ahead, and get ready to go live!