Braving a ‘Live’ on Instagram

Consumers love video! Just look at the success of Instagram Stories, and with video ads and IGTV (finally) starting to gain popularity, every brand should be building video into its strategy. Of course, there are lots of different ways to do video – it’s not exclusively for the more visual businesses and products – but if you really want to create a stronger brand loyalty, going Live and showing your face is a must. Not least because Instagram will place your Live at the head of your followers’ feeds

Before you break out into a cold sweat at the thought of putting yourself out there in the most public way, let me just say that the more you do it, the easier it gets. It’s a boost for your authenticity, one of the best ways to target a younger audience and presents a unique opportunity for your brand to stand out by prompting interactions that may well help drive sales.

So, once you’ve found your brave streak, use these tips to add value and make Lives a breeze.

Preparation, preparation, preparation

There will always be those occasions when your live broadcasts will be totally ad hoc and you’ll be winging it because you’re so in the moment. For all the other videos that form part of your regular strategy, a little preparation pays dividends.

Think of your broadcast as being like a presentation you need to give – prep your words, have cue cards, do a few run-throughs to iron out any stumbling points and to minimise your nerves. It’s probably a good idea to record yourself and watch it back (cringe!) with an eye for what you could improve.

The other key part of your prep should be to promo your Live. The more people you can reach, the more chance you have of getting on to the holy grail of Insta: the Explore page. With that in mind, it’s worth doing some promotion to get as many viewers as possible. Post about it on your grid and other social channels, and in the days leading up to it do some Stories with teasers about content. Don’t forget the all-important info about date and time.

Getting the basics right

Decent lighting and sound are a must to appear professional and to make your stream accessible. If your audience can’t hear well or is distracted by poor lighting, they aren’t going to stick with you. Natural light is always preferable, so if you have a nice big window or a light bright space, make the most of it. Keep the light in front of you and shining towards you. A little experimenting may also be necessary; you might want to use white material or card to reflect some light or black plastic to block some out.

If you need some help with lighting, it’s always best to avoid overhead lights as they cast unflattering shadows. One of my favourite pieces of equipment is this phone clamp. It’s a simple tool but a really cost-effective way to get better lighting for your videos. It’s perfect for Stories, Lives and even selfies, if you’re into that kind of thing.

Braving Insta Lives

Making the best Live videos

So you’ve sorted the logistics, told your followers to tune in and made sure you’re comfortable in front of the camera… but how do you really nail the content?

You want to keep your audience engaged and maintain their interest over the course of your Live, so take a moment to think about your storytelling. Is there an end goal? Do you have a beginning, middle and end? Are you regularly dropping in interesting facts or important product information so they want to keep watching? I tend to stick to this simple structure: an intro, have three main points to cover at intervals to add value then have a call to action, like ‘click on my website to find out more’.

The other thing you want to do, to boost reach and to help that relationship with your audience, is to generate engagement. Lives are the perfect way to converse directly with customers, which is powerful for both parties. One obvious way to do this is by making some of your Lives into Q&A opportunities. Whatever you are filming it’s good to invite feedback and ask questions during the broadcast. The very format of a Live should facilitate organic replies but don’t shy away from asking for a direct answer to a point you are making.

And if all this sounds great but you’re still stuck for content ideas, why not try one of these:

  • Tutorials – show your followers exactly how to use your product, with added value tips and hacks so they’ll get the most out of it
  • Behind the scenes – this is a great way to show a bit more of your brand’s personality and let your audience really get to know you and how you work. It’s great for brand loyalty
  • Q&A – invite your audience to submit questions beforehand (that makes it easier than trying to track all the comments) and ask for feedback on your business
  • Collaborations – interview another Instagrammer or get together with an insta mate to discuss a topic you know your audience will love. With both of you promoting it, it can mean your brand has a wider reach and gains some more engaged followers too
  • Product reveal – a Live is a brilliant way to showcase a new product or service you are offering. Just don’t forget to do lots of teasers in Stories and on the grid to get people interested. Without giving away much at all in the lead-up, the urgency of a Live is perfect for a big reveal

Instagram Lives

After the event

It’s always a good idea to summarise your broadcast for those who couldn’t join in – especially if you made important announcements. Let them know what they missed via a short post or Story. A little trick I like to use is to record my screen and audio via my phone so I can share the comments too. Then I upload to IGTV. This gives me the chance to share the first 60 secs to my feed. Soon we’ll be able to share our Lives direct to IGTV!

That’s all you need to know about smashing it live, for more ways to win with Instagram check out these post:

Seven easy wins for Insta authenticity

How to get the swipe up feature on Instagram Stories with less than 10k followers

What is the best Instagram scheduling tool?

Let’s connect on Instagram. Come over and say hi here >>> www.instagram.com/365daysocial