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Instagram Live Has Arrived. Here’s What to Do with It.

We’ve known since November that Instagram was rolling out a Live feature à la Facebook Live, but it really hit home today when I opened up my Instagram app and saw this.


Buzzfeed went Live, as have a number of other brands. It’s happening, and it’s transforming Instagram. Here’s what you can do about it.

Instagram Live Is the New Instagram Stories

And not just because it is Instagram’s latest product feature. When Instagram Stories rolled out, they took visual precedence over “normal Instagram,” organized in a neat little row on the top of your screen–the first thing you see when you open the app. Now, Instagram Live stories will be featured first in this Instagram Stories line-up.

What You Should Do: Want prime real estate on Instagram without investing more in ads? Go Live! Take a look at your upcoming editorial and/or event calendar to see where you can fit in regular Instagram Live updates that will engage your audience. Set a view and viewer number goal, so you can see whether your strategy is working or where you need to pivot.

Nota Bene: This strategy will only work if you do it on a regular basis. Unlike Facebook Live, Instagram Live stories disappear once the broadcast is over.

Make Instagram Live Its Own Channel

Instagram Live takes a lot of features from Periscope and Facebook Live and weaves them into its own ecosystem. Despite living in the same place, Instagram Live isn’t at all like “normal” Instagram, so don’t treat it as such.

What You Should Do: Set the goals I mentioned in the previous section–or maybe even more detailed engagement goals around comments and Likes (see the section below). Don’t use Instagram Live only as a “behind-the-scenes” look at “normal Instagram” photos and videos. That can work sometimes, but you’ll get the most return from Instagram Live if you view it as its own universe, with its specific variation of your brand feel and original programming.

Making the case for the resources you’ll need for this effort will require firm goals and a clear explanation of how hitting these goals can affect your organization as a whole, whether from demand gen, brand awareness, or revenue perspectives.

Choose Whether You Want Visible Comments

Instagram Live gives your audience the ability to comment and Like freely as the broadcast goes along, but you also have the power to turn comments off altogether.

Source: Instagram

What You Should Do: Fear not the trolls. Open your brand up to feedback, and you may be pleasantly surprised at what comes in. Use this feedback to inform future content, on Instagram Live and beyond, and switch off those comments only if the water gets too hot.

Take Your Influencer Marketing Program Off Training Wheels

Instagram Live is a great place to do this. If your influencer marketing program is nascent, dormant, or even non-existent, Instagram Live is a godsend.

What You Should Do: Reach out to influencers who intersect with your brand philosophy, offering, and audience (or leverage the ones you already have!). Start a weekly series which focuses on either interviewing relevant influencers in your space or letting an influencer take over and invite your audience into their world.

This Is Brand Discovery at its Finest

Under the Explore tab, U.S. users will now find a “Top Live” section, displaying the “best” Instagram Live content currently being offered, according to Instagram’s algorithm.


Source: Instagram

This is a wonderful example of quality winning out over quantity: while we recommend regular, consistently timed and themed posting on Instagram Live, quality level is the most important consideration to keep in mind. You’re opening yourself up to wide swaths of new audience if you’re featured in the Top Live category.

What You Should Do: Make getting featured in the Top Live category a quarterly goal for your Instagram Live program. Make sure you’re promoting your Instagram Live programming on other social channels to draw more eyes and more engagement, which are likely to get you featured here. Post outside or before your target audience’s business hours, when Instagram users are more likely to be able to turn their full attention to a piece of content (and have the sound on).

If you already use Instagram Stories in your marketing plan or are itching to try them out, be sure to track the success of your efforts with Simply Measured Social Analytics – Instagram Insights. Request a demo here.

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Lucy Hitz

I’m the Head of Marketing Communications here at Simply Measured, where I'm responsible for our content program, social media marketing, PR, and comarketing ventures. I love yoga, The X-Files, peaty scotch, hiking, and poetry. If I were a social media channel, I’d want to be Instagram, but I think I’m Twitter.

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