Your One-Stop Guide to Instagram Live

instagram live
It seems like every social media platform has a live stream function these days. While it may seem repetitive, so many platforms are jumping on the train because it works. Think of live streaming as a powerful tool in your social media toolkit. It is a way for you to connect with your followers and simultaneously build your brand. 
Instagram Live has its own unique set of perks and benefits, which we’ll cover with you. Even though Instagram is typically the more “polished” social media platform, live streaming is your opportunity to give your audience an authentic “behind the scenes” look at your business. Because there is no pausing or editing, you have to be transparent. While this may seem intimidating, that’s part of the charm.

Why Should You Use Instagram Live to Communicate

Between stories, reels, and live streams, it’s hard to keep up. You might be wondering if it’s worth it to learn one more thing for your social media strategy. And we’re here to tell you that it is definitely worth your time and effort. 
More visibility
Did you know that most of your followers are never going to see that post you worked so hard on? The almighty Instagram algorithm means that only about 10–30% of your followers actually see the things you post in the main feed. Stories are a great way to combat that problem, but Instagram Live takes it one step further. 
Instagram Lives are at the top of the app, and they are also shown before all of the stories. This means that they are typically the first thing that someone sees when they open the app. On top of that, Instagram Lives are highlighted, which immediately draws your attention. And the benefits just keep coming! All followers that are actively using the app will immediately receive a push notification when you go live. This creates a sense of urgency and encourages your followers to check out what you’re streaming!
Higher Engagement
On Instagram, engagement is king. It’s the quickest and easiest way to grow your audience and get more followers. Instagram Live is a great way to get more engagement and, in turn, grow your brand!
You can have a two-way conversation in real-time with your followers during your live stream. Ask questions and let them respond in the comments! You can like and reply to those comments from the same screen you’re hosting the Instagram Live. (We’ll talk more about comments later.)
Another feature that leads to higher engagement is the available time. Where stories and feed posts are only a maximum of 60 seconds, Instagram Lives can be an hour-long! This allows more time for your followers to join the live stream and interact with your content.

How to Use Instagram Live to Its Full Potential

If you’re going to invest the extra time into using Instagram Live, you want to make sure you’re doing it right. We put together some must-know tips for getting the most out of your Instagram Live. 
Going Live
You can go live on Instagram in just two simple steps. First, open the Instagram Stories camera and tap “Live.” When you’re ready, just tap the record button! It’ll even tell you how many followers you have active on the app. Remember, all of those users will get a notification when you go live. 
We’ve already talked about how comments and engagement are a huge part of being successful on Instagram, but we’ll dive a little deeper into how to use comments in Instagram Live. 
Moderate: You can automatically block comments that contain specific words or phrases that you designate as inappropriate. But be sure to set this up in your profile settings before you start your live stream! 
Pin: If you pin a comment, then it will stay at the top of the thread. This means that it’ll be the first thing your Instagram followers see when they view your live stream. You can pin your own comments or those of your followers.
Turn off: You can turn off all comments, but that doesn’t mean you always should. We’ve been harping on engagement, and turning off your comments means that you are cutting out a lot of engagement. You also lose your ability to have a two-way conversation with your audience. But—turning off comments may be beneficial in some scenarios, like if your content is controversial and you’re not able to moderate comments.
Other Perks
There are a ton of other ways to use Instagram Live, but here are a few.
You can invite another Instagrammer to co-host your live stream with you. Anyone else thinking of special guests?!
You can add filters to your camera or show photos to your followers. Because everyone could use a good filter. 
Most importantly—Instagram Live streams will stay in your stories for 24 hours. You can save them from there and post to your other platforms, like IGTV, YouTube, Facebook, etc. Think cross-platform content!

What Are the Best Practices for a Successful Live Stream?

Now that you know why you should use Instagram Live and how to use it correctly, let’s talk about how you can get the most value out of it.
Don’t wing it! Your audience needs to gain something from your live stream. Otherwise, they aren’t going to stick around to watch it and they definitely won’t come back in the future. You need to make it worth their time.
Stick around
This one lines up with being prepared. Your Instagram Live is going to do better if you go for at least 10 minutes. This gives your followers time to find it. You’ll also have people pop in and out of your stream, and this gives everyone the most time to engage. But, this means that you need to have enough content prepared to last the entire time!
Promote it ahead of time
Remember when we mentioned that all active Instagram users will get a notification when you go live? Well, it’s your job to make sure there are as many active users when you start as possible! That’s why you want to start promoting your Instagram Live about a week ahead of time. 
Pro tip: Use the countdown feature in your Instagram Story! Your followers will be able to turn on reminders and even share your countdown on their own stories, expanding your reach in the process!

Bringing It All Together

Is your head spinning? We threw a lot of information at you! 
Who knew that one little feature on one specific social media platform could have so many bits and pieces? Well, we did—that’s why they call us the experts! But we’re happy to share our social media knowledge with you. Let us know if we can help you with any of your social media questions.

About Luke

Luke is Uptick’s Director of Content Marketing. He earned his Master of Technical and Professional Communication from Auburn University and a bachelor’s in English from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He has also been professionally copywriting for more than half a decade. In his role as Director of Content Marketing, Luke manages a team of copywriters and graphic designers, is heavily involved in client communication, strategizes content marketing for clients, and more. His copywriting focus includes writing for technical, industrial, and scientific clientele, but he’s also been known to throw his fair share of puns around.

See more articles from Luke Richey