Live Video Marketing Guide: Instagram Best Practices

Instagram May 21, 2018

Instagram is one of the most popular social networks of the day. Brands who are building live streaming strategies are very interested in adding this platform to their strategy, but how can you make this work for your own?

Before we discuss some of the best practices for live streaming on Instagram there is some very important background information you need to be aware of. Instagram, or “IG” (as the kids call it), is a unique platform when it comes to live video. Typically, when we’re discussing live streaming for brands, it’s necessary to use a slightly above entry-level live streaming operation. Usually you’d be going live from a computer using something like Open Broadcaster Software (OBS), with multiple cameras, video effects, and graphics. Then you’d send the stream to a service like Switchboard Cloud to distribute it to YouTube, Periscope, Facebook, Twitch, and hundreds of other live platforms, simultaneously. Following the live stream the video would have life on those platforms forever – unless you delete it – and would remain available to share, anywhere.

IG isn’t down with all that jazz.

Instagram Live Video Characteristics

Instagram Live Video Characteristics

  • You can only go live from your smartphone, you cannot use a computer or other encoding hardware
  • It’s currently not supported by any video distribution service
  • You won’t be able to save the full video to your IG profile, as you would photos
  • But you can select ‘Highlights‘ from the video and post those to the section of your IG page between your profile photo and the rest of your images and videos
  • Or you can post the live video in your ‘Story‘, which is content that expires after 24 hours
  • You can also save the full video to your phone then post it to Instagram after the fact but note, Instagram videos are limited to 60 seconds
  • If you save the video to your phone you can post it after the fact on other platforms like any other video you take with your phone

For more on the basics of how to go live on this social share site, check out Instagram’s help page.

And while all these limitations can make streaming on IG seem more trouble than it’s worth, it’s actually a rewarding and beneficial platform to utilize. Given its popularity, and the potential reach it allows a user, many have found it to be very much worth their time. So what should we be doing to get the most out of it?

Planning & Testing on Instagram

Planning & Testing on Instagram

As my father would say, “proper planning prevents poor performance.” This holds true for your professional branding and live streaming adventures. You don’t have to script out every word, but you should have a solid plan of what is going to happen before you start your broadcast.

First, identify the point of the stream. Is your company announcing something? Giving a product update? Showing off a brand-new? Then think of the best way to go about that goal. Make a list of important bullet points to mention. Include reminders for calls-to-action. You want to tell your audience to like and comment as well as point them to your website and/or other social platforms.

Once you have a good idea of what you’d like to do, test it. Don’t go live but record the video on your phone just as you would if you were live. In the test you want to determine if your content strategy works the way you’d like. You also want to check for a quality video. Is the lighting right? Is the audio clear? If you’re showing off a product, is it well lit and easily seen in the video? Is there anything in the background, or surrounding you, that you don’t want on camera? Watch back for all these things and if you’re satisfied, go live or feel free to do another test.

Don’t aim for perfection – being “real” is part of the appeal, but you do want to be sure to get your point across properly.

Promote Often & Everywhere

Promote Often & Everywhere

It’s especially important folks know you’ll be going live on Instagram so that they tune in. Given the way content expires on this platform, if you don’t get their attention during the broadcast or not long after, via your story or highlights, they won’t get to see your marvelous work.

So tell everyone about it! Go on other social networks to let people know you’re about to go live on IG. When it’s over, tell people to check out your story or profile page. Do whatever you can to drive them to the video.

Another strategy is to go live regularly around the same time, or have a standing schedule. If you do that you can always be promoting and will get people in the habit of looking for your stream at particular times. You can also remind people of your schedule during your live videos so they know when to come back for more.

With a little planning and practice, live streaming on Instagram can be one of the best things for your brand!