Did you know that live streaming increased by 70% on Instagram across the US from February to March this year?
With millions of people around the world following social distancing orders and spending more time at home, many turned to Instagram Live as a new way of interacting and communicating with others.
From POPSUGAR Fitness’s daily workouts, to comedian Ziwe’s Thursday night comedy show, to Bread Ahead’s daily cooking tutorials, there’s been no shortage of Live entertainment to tune into during lockdown.
And it isn’t just celebrities or big-name brands that are sharing more Lives, but small business owners too.
British fashion company Never Fully Dressed has been sharing Lives recently around the topics of candle making, crystal healing and baby bump dressing.
And business coach Fleur Emery interviews special guests frequently for her two Live series Brain Biscuits and Female Founders.
So with everybody jumping on the Instagram Live bandwagon – is this something you should be doing, too?
Yup, you guessed it! 😉
Because going Live is fantastic for building engagement, connecting directly with your followers, and establishing your brand.
But if the thought of going Live gives you the sweats (“What if I mess up?! What if no one shows up?!”) – I get it.
And that’s why I’ve written this article just for you.
Before we jump into the “how” of creating engaging Instagram Lives, first let’s touch on the “why”. Here are just some of the benefits:
Now, let’s walk through how to create your next Instagram Live step-by-step.
The best way to show up confidently on Instagram Live AND to create content that will keep your audience hooked from beginning to end?
Make a plan.
While it might be tempting to jump on Live and start talking about your business right off the bat, it’s unlikely that this will be an engaging and effective piece of content.
Remember: even though the format of an Instagram Live is more relaxed and candid in style than a video created in advance for your main-feed or IGTV, you still want to ensure your Live has structure.
With pre-planned talking points and a clear beginning, middle and end, you will remove the risk of losing your train of thought or talking too much about a particular topic.
This doesn’t mean you need to follow a rigid script. All you need to include in your plan is a juicy intro that will capture people’s attention, 3-5 talking points, and a call-to-action to finish with.
Not only will planning in advance help hugely with your confidence, but it will also remove (much of!) the intimidation factor that’s associated with broadcasting Live.
Before you go Live, drum up excitement among your followers with an Instagram Story or main-feed post that teases the content you’re going to discuss and gives people a reason to tune in.
For example, Ebony magazine got its followers excited for a Live one-on-one conversation with Game of Thrones actress Nathalie Emmanuel with this main-feed post.
And take advantage of the Instagram Stories countdown sticker, which is the perfect tool to drive interest and attendance for your live stream.
Another great example of someone that builds hype pre- and post-Live is content creator Serena Kerrigan, who launched the Instagram Live dating show “Let’s F*cking Date” during lockdown.
Each week, Kerrigan goes on a virtual blind date on Live while followers tune in and comment in real time. Before every Live, she shares content on Instagram Stories, including a breakdown of the schedule and countdown stickers to make sure no one misses out.
Bonus tip! Stuck on Instagram Live ideas? Not sure whether they’re what your audience wants? Take the stress out of planning and get your followers involved! Give them options to choose from via Instagram Stories and make use of the poll and question stickers. This way you’ll be able to gauge interest in your topics and make your followers feel that their input is valued.
One of the headaches you might encounter when going Live is poor internet connection.
To avoid this happening, consider temporarily disconnecting other devices using your WiFi connection or connect your phone directly to your internet router via an ethernet cable.
This will minimize the chances of your Live cutting out or the quality coming across pixelated and you feeling flustered and stressed out!
Another super handy tip for an interruption-free Instagram Live is to set your phone to Do Not Disturb.
The last thing you want to happen after creating a solid plan, checking your internet connection and getting your followers gathered in one place is to receive a phone call during your Live. This will take priority and pause or cancel your live stream altogether.
It doesn’t bear thinking about, right? 😱
Instead, turn “on” the Do Not Disturb function on your device and, so you never forget, add this task to a mini “pre-Live checklist” if you plan to go Live regularly.
A handy tip if you’re feeling really overwhelmed by the prospect of Instagram Live is to create a practice “dummy” account.
This account (which you can make private), will allow you to rehearse your Live and check the audio is working as it should and the lighting looks good.
Save and review your practice broadcasts once you’ve finished by hitting the download button at the top left corner once it’s finished.
While it’s important to know the format of your Live and what you’re going to talk about, Instagram Live isn’t about reading from a script.
The reason people tune into Instagram Lives is for that instant connection to another human being.
And this has never been truer than right now, during a global pandemic, when people are craving 1:1 connection and interaction with others.
Yes, this connection is still through a smartphone screen, but the more genuine you can be as the live streamer, the more impact you will have on your audience.
So, how can you best achieve this?
Be willing to be vulnerable, talk to the camera like you would a co-worker, and don’t be afraid to show your personality.
That doesn’t mean you need to start crying on camera or talk about mundane things that are totally irrelevant to your audience – definitely not! – but don’t be afraid to show emotion and talk about how you’re really feeling.
Whether that’s discussing the impact of Covid-19 on your business, how you balance your work life and personal life, or how you look after your mental health – if you’re comfortable to talk about it, then don’t hold back from sharing with your audience.
One of the great things about Instagram Live is the real-time conversation you can have with your attendees.
To avoid this becoming too overwhelming, you have the ability to “Turn Off Commenting” and also “Turn Off Requests To Go Live”. Take it from someone who’s had her mum request to join her Lives *many* times… it can be very distracting! 😂
With that being said, do encourage questions and input from your audience as much as possible.
Responding to questions and thanking viewers for their comments builds instant rapport and will make your audience feel acknowledged and connected to your brand.
If the thought of receiving too many questions worries you, you can always let your followers know at the start of the Live that there will be an opportunity for questions at the end.
Bonus tip! If you’re hosting a Live Q&A, share the question sticker on your Instagram Story in advance of live streaming. Then, once live, you can tap on the ? mark button at the bottom of your screen and start answering the questions that have come in. This is an easy way to sift through responses and make your Q&A seamless!
A great way to make your Instagram Live more engaging is by including some supplementary images or slides to bring your points to life.
You can easily share an image or video to your broadcast screen by tapping the camera roll icon in the right-hand corner of the screen.
If you’re sharing an educational or informative Instagram Live, then why not load up some explanatory slides or a screen recording of your phone?
This will elevate your Instagram Live into a slick and IGTV-ready piece of content that will keep people engaged throughout.
Whether your Instagram Live is going to be a Q&A with a guest speaker, an intro to you and your business or a mini training, make sure you always give your audience an action to take at the end.
Sometimes, it might be appropriate to direct your audience to your product or service. However, try to avoid being overtly salesy with every Instagram Live.
Instead, encourage engagement. Get people to check out other videos in your IGTV series or send you a DM with additional questions about the topic you’ve discussed.
This kind of genuine interactivity will keep your followers coming back for more. They won’t feel as if your Lives are an opportunity to pitch and will look forward to the chance to learn from you and connect with you better.
For example, at the end of this Live Juneteenth Meditation, @blackgirllinom pinned a comment telling viewers how they could stay in touch with her. And, she encouraged them to check out the other Lives being hosted by Fenty Beauty that day.
With a plan in place, the most important thing to remember is… to have fun!
When your followers open their Instagram app and see that you’re “Live”, they are expecting to see more of you, your personality and your value-packed content.
Monotony and overly salesy content is a no-no.
Instead, show up with a confident, positive attitude because it will encourage your followers to stick around and watch to the end.
And don’t get worried or stressed out if you make a small mistake or stumble over your words… it happens to the best of us! Plus, your audience will appreciate your authenticity and relatability.
That’s exactly what Instagram Live is all about.
Bonus tip! Remember, your Instagram Lives don’t have to be long. If you can pack lots of value into a 10 or 15-minute Live session, fantastic! Being concise will keep your audience engaged for longer.
If you’ve read any of my other articles, you know the drill by now… consistency is the name of the game!
People love consistency, and they love to know when their favourite brands and individuals are going to share their next piece of content.
This is what I like to call building habits within your audience.
The more regularly and consistently you show up on Instagram, the sooner your audience will come to expect your content. Better yet, they’ll learn to get excited for it.
Whether it’s a daily, weekly or monthly Instagram Live series, sharing consistently will improve your chances of success.
For example, you could interview a happy customer each week, run a weekly Q&A with yourself or a guest expert, or take people behind-the-scenes of an on-going project.
The more value you can provide in the form of teaching and education, the better.
Check out this example from digital marketing coach Alice Benham, who hosts a live stream every Friday during which she shares advice about finance, branding and goal setting.
This is a super effective way of sharing Lives that build authority and increase trust with followers.
Going on Instagram Live is a big deal, so don’t forget to promote the heck out of it after it’s over.
Just like you did when you were building excitement before the Live, you can share key takeaways post-Live on Instagram Stories, too!
Highlights, funny moments, thought-provoking questions – you can share all of these in an Instagram Live “round-up” to capture the attention of anybody that missed out watching in real-time.
Remember Serena Kerrigan from Let’s F*cking Date, mentioned above? Well not only does she do a brilliant job of pre-Live hype, but she’s also brilliant at sharing a TON of content post-Live, too.
All the DMs, comments and Stories her audience share and send to her off the back of a recent live date, she screenshots and reshares to her Stories to maintain buzz.
Until recently, Instagram Lives only lasted for 24 hours. And unless you were quick off the mark to download the video, you would have no way of accessing that content again.
However, in a very exciting recent update, Instagram now allows users to save Instagram Lives to IGTV permanently (yay 🙌!).
This streamlines the content creation process and stops brands and businesses from having to reinvent the wheel and think up new ideas for IGTV every single time.
Instead, if you continue to show up on Instagram Live and gradually build your confidence, you can save these to IGTV for people to continue to enjoy in the future.
As long as the ones you’re saving to IGTV fit within a series and have a compelling beginning, middle and end, then this way of incorporating your Instagram Live strategy and your IGTV strategy could work really well for you.
Bonus tips: How to prep for your Instagram Live (that will be later shared to IGTV!)
If you’re going to incorporate Instagram Lives into your IGTV strategy, here’s a few tips to ensure that you’re fully prepared to create a piece of content that works well for both.
Looking for some inspiration for your next Instagram Live?
Here are 10 ideas to get you started:
So, do you feel ready to start using Instagram Live? 😍
When you break down the process into simple steps, it removes the fear and overwhelm from the process.
Going “Live” doesn’t mean switching on the camera with nothing prepared.
It means taking this golden opportunity to share your expertise and personality with your community at a time when they’re stuck at home and craving human connection.
With some advanced planning and practice, you’ll be an Instagram Live pro in no time at all. 😊
Is your Instagram Business account well-optimized? Run a quick audit courtesy of Iconosquare.
Every week, Emily interviews top brands, renowned influencers, and hidden agencies with one goal in mind: to understand what happens backstage of their social media strategies.Listen to esm2