Social media platforms evolve at breakneck speed these days – and Instagram is no exception. With more than 1 billion monthly active users, the photo-sharing app, which is owned by Facebook, is among the top networks globally.

To keep users engaged on the app, Instagram has released numerous new features in recent years, including Instagram Live. Launched in 2016, Instagram Live allows users to host a live stream for their followers via Instagram Stories. Followers can view the stream in real-time, or they can watch it for up to 24 hours after it ends. Viewers can comment on the live stream to ask questions and interact with the host in real-time.


What Makes Instagram Live Different from Other Social Tools?

Instagram Live offers a few key advantages that other social platforms do not: 

  • Fancy visuals not required: Instagram users are used to the makeshift or casual vibe of a live stream, so you don’t need to have a professional studio setup. Oftentimes, a “behind-the-scenes” or “day-in-the-life” feel works just fine. Other networks, and even regular Instagram “feed” posts, generally require higher quality photography and video to meet customer expectations and reinforce brand elements.
  • Enhanced real-time connection: While you can theoretically respond to regular post comments and messages in real-time on all social platforms, Instagram Live takes that to another level, putting a face to the brand’s social media presence and creating a human connection when a viewer’s question or comment is acknowledged and addressed.
  • Ability to add participants: Instagram Live allows you to add other people to your stream, meaning you can select certain followers, brand partners, influencers, subject matter experts or others to join via video and enhance the conversation.


How Can Businesses Benefit from Instagram Live?

The real-time connection Instagram Live fosters is a goldmine for brands. Here’s how your company can benefit:

  • Boost thought leadership: It can help position company executives as thought leaders in a more casual way, allowing followers to get in on a more exclusive conversation with them.
  • Quick customer service: Responsiveness is a big deal when it comes to customer service and satisfaction, and Instagram Live provides another touchpoint. As customer questions come through the stream’s comments section, the host can answer the most burning questions right then and there.
  • Control costs: Instagram Live is a cost-effective way to produce content, since no studios or fancy cameras are needed. In a time when brands need to pay for worthwhile social exposure, Instagram Live is a breath of fresh air.
  • Track analytics: Instagram Live provides metrics brands can use to analyze performance and adjust future Instagram Live strategies, including engagement and viewer numbers. Brands can also refer to the Insights section on their accounts to determine the days and times their audiences are most active, to ensure the live stream aligns with peak engagement hours.
  • Repurpose for future content: After the stream ends, you can save the entire video. Edit it into shorter snippets and use on the Instagram feed or other platforms to extend the life of the content.


Tips for Getting Started

When you first dive into Instagram Live, think about how it will integrate with the rest of your social media strategy, and your larger PR and marketing plan. Certain campaigns, such as product launches or influencer marketing pushes, could benefit from incorporating a live stream.

Before launching your first live stream, ensure whomever is hosting the stream understands how to “go live” on Instagram, that they have a strong Wi-Fi connection and that they will be in a place with minimal background noise.

To start, shoot for quarterly Instagram Lives and then, based on success, adjust the frequency, topic or style of the stream. Formats could include:

  • Q&A with company leader(s)
  • How-to for a new product or service
  • Interview with a key influencer, or the influencer does a “takeover” of the brand account and goes live
  • Behind-the-scenes look at your office or facility

At first glance, Instagram Live may seem like a facet of the larger Instagram platform brands shouldn’t worry about. However, its budget-friendliness, ease of use and personal feel make Instagram Live a no-brainer for companies looking to highlight their expertise and connect with customers.