Thinking of going live on Instagram? Wondering how to attract more viewers or what tech to use?
In this article, you’ll discover four tips to plan, promote, and broadcast your next Instagram live.
Why Use Instagram Live?
One of the fastest ways to build rapport with your Instagram followers is through live video. Live experiences give viewers an opportunity to interact with you, have their questions answered in real time, and tune into experiences as they’re unfolding. A survey conducted by New York Magazine and Livestream (a software company owned by Vimeo) found that 80% of respondents would rather watch a live video from a brand than read a blog.
Instagram has one of the most valuable and engaged audiences online, and here are a few reasons why:
- The average user spends 53 minutes a day on Instagram consuming content.
- One in five Instagram stories posted by businesses elicits a direct message.
- 83% of Instagram users discover new products or services on the platform.
When you go live on Instagram, your stream will reside at the front of the Stories queue for as long as you’re live, giving you valuable visibility and priority with your followers.
Instagram live-stream replays are segmented separately from story replays, so when a user goes to view your story, they can find your past live videos easier. This functionality also applies to Instagram story highlights.
In the wake of social distancing, even top broadcast personalities are choosing Instagram Live to create content. Here’s an example of Oprah using the two-person interview feature to do a cooking segment with celebrity chef Jamie Oliver:
Chances are that your audience is smaller than Oprah’s so you’ll need a plan to maximize engagement. While the magic of Instagram Live is that you can go live from anywhere with the touch of a button, keep in mind that a substantial percentage of your total viewers will watch the replay rather than the actual live broadcast. So structure your live video broadcast as you would a piece of video content.
Now let’s look at how to plan and execute a successful live broadcast.
#1: Tips to Improve an Instagram Live Video Broadcast
By planning, you can incorporate more opportunities for engagement throughout your Instagram Live broadcast. Try these tips to improve your live video.
Set Up a Practice Account
If you’re new to Instagram Live video, you may feel like a deer in the headlights once you’ve tapped the Go Live button.
If this is you, a great workaround is to create a dummy Instagram account. This alternate account lets you rehearse as much as you want and adjust your lighting or audio settings until you’re happy with your finished product. Save your practice broadcasts by tapping the download button at the top-left corner when a video ends.
Prep Your Phone for the Broadcast Session
Remember to put your phone in Do Not Disturb mode for any live stream you’re doing from your phone. If a phone call comes in during your live video, your broadcast will be interrupted, and you’ll likely lose followers as a result.
Consider mounting your phone on a steady surface, or if you’ll be moving around with your phone during your live stream, look into getting a simple phone tripod. When recording with your phone, a tripod reduces shake by 50% or more. An entry-level tripod can get the job done.
Get Your Presentation Assets in Order
Once you go live on Instagram, the last thing you want to do is deal with technical snafus or mess around with unfamiliar buttons. Get comfortable with the different components of the Instagram Live interface.
For example, you may want to prepare a slide deck or presentation and toggle back and forth between filming the presentation and your own face using the camera’s flip button while you present. You’ll be more fluid as you transition and facilitate.
If you’ll be using your live video to drive traffic somewhere, have your link ready to go in your profile so users can navigate to it and remain on the Instagram platform.
Two-person Instagram live has become increasingly popular. If you decide to go this route, remember that you’ll need to go live first and then have your guest be a viewer of your live video. From there, you’ll be able to invite them to join you on camera.
Improve Your Tech
Here are a few ways to upgrade your tech to improve your Instagram Live broadcast.
Strengthen Your Internet Connection
If you’re indoors and have patchy Wi-Fi, you may want to link your device directly to your router and establish an Ethernet connection. To do this, you’ll need an adapter. iOS devices will use a Lightning-to-Ethernet adapter; Android devices will use a USB Micro B-to-Ethernet adapter.
One thing to keep in mind is that live video taxes your device and can drain your battery quickly. If you plan to do a longer live stream, consider getting a dongle that allows a Lightning-to-Ethernet connection and connection to a power source. For my iOS devices, I use an entry-level one that also has a USB port.
Free Yourself Up With a Lavalier Microphone
Normally, during an Instagram live video, your device will act as your microphone. But what if you want to move around during your broadcast or demonstrate something at a distance or in a noisy area?
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Perhaps you’re a yoga teacher who wants to lead viewers through a class but you’re also demonstrating the class. Because you’ll need to physically be several feet away from your device, a wireless lavalier microphone could be a great solution.
Lavalier microphones are an investment. If you plan to do live videos, video content, or interviews regularly, a quality wireless microphone will take your audio to the next level. I use the RØDE filmmaker wireless kit (Amazon, $399) and an SC7 adapter cable (Amazon, $25). Samson also has a more cost-conscious option (Amazon, $199).
If you choose this audio option or another external microphone for your broadcast, remember that your adapter will also need a port for sound output. I invested in a Belkin adapter (Amazon, $39) because I found that cheaper ones short out quickly.
This setup can take a moment but if you’re leaning on Instagram to drive interest and sales in your business, you’ll get the hang of it quickly with repetition. You’ll also love the freedom that a lavalier microphone gives you.
#2: Create an Incentive to Encourage People to Show Up for Your Instagram Live Video
A nagging objection every marketer must overcome is procrastination. Why should people show up and watch now rather than later? This principle applies to live video campaigns, too. Gamification and live interaction can help entice viewers to keep watching and engage rather than tune out.
Here are a few ways to bolster urgency for your broadcast:
- Live Q&A. If you’re a subject-matter expert and viewers are able to ask you questions freely, this might be reason enough to participate live rather than just consume recorded content that doesn’t allow dialogue.
- Scarcity. Consider creating an offer or invitation that has a limited number of spots. You could offer to help the first five people who send you a direct message or create a coupon code with a limited number of available uses or redemptions.
- Disappearing incentives. Scarcity can also be achieved through a time window. Offer people an incentive that has a deadline for redemption. This option is more likely to capture conversions from viewers watching a replay.
When you first go live, you’ll see a message that Instagram is telling your followers you’ve started a live video. Remember that you’re still live and being recorded during this time.
Instead of waiting for viewers before you begin your presentation, proceed as planned and respond to viewer comments when appropriate. Make sure you have some of the basics down so your audience doesn’t end up distracted.
Invite people to comment or indicate their level of comfort, interest, or experience with certain topics. This allows live viewers to give you feedback and actually co-create the experience with you.
Plan to respond to comments intermittently throughout your live video. Once you’ve demonstrated to viewers that their opinions can influence the direction of the broadcast, they’ll be hooked. Leave time to respond to questions that may arise but plan to proceed if you aren’t seeing initial engagement or viewers.
Remember that many people will watch and get value from your replay so don’t let a low live turnout discourage you.
#3: Promote Your Instagram Live Before the Broadcast
If you want to maximize awareness and viewership of an Instagram Live video, consider creating pre-broadcast assets and material to help get the word out.
Canva is free and has a variety of size-optimized formats for you to use. I like to use Canva’s pre-sized post and story templates to quickly create clean, informative graphics.
Use your posts to communicate the who/what/where/when/why/how of your upcoming live video broadcast, as well as the outcomes and benefits from tuning in.
If appropriate, you can run these promotional materials as ads. Keep in mind, however, that ad imagery and video on Facebook must have less than 20% text for full distribution. I keep Facebook’s text overlay tool bookmarked to quickly upload images that have some text to see if they’ll be approved.
#4: Repurpose Your Instagram Live Video in Subsequent Stories Posts and Highlights
Once you’ve successfully completed your Instagram Live video, consider directing future traffic to your broadcast. If the broadcast featured material that can benefit future users beyond the 24-hour replay mark in Stories, consider adding your live video to a new or existing story highlight.
You can pull the link of any story by tapping the three dots at the bottom-right corner of the screen and selecting Copy Highlight Link. Capture the highlight link and use it for other marketing assets such as your email list or other platforms.
Instagram Live is becoming increasingly popular but many broadcasts are reactive or miss out on opportunities to effectively engage followers. Organize a plan for your live video, come from a place of quality, and you’ll be able to slice through and communicate more effectively with your followers.
What do you think? Will you try any of these tips with your next Instagram Live broadcast? Share your thoughts in the comments below.