Brands and creators are leveraging Instagram Live to bring fans into the content-creation process. Viewers can move beyond “viewing” to playing a minor role in the direction of the video content. IG Live is just one more example of all the ways that Instagram is prioritizing the user and empowering brands to connect with those users more authentically.
What is Instagram Live?
Instagram Live is a free platform (powered by Facebook) that allows users to create virtual events.
Anyone with an Instagram account can launch an Instagram Live event. The current Instagram Live time limit is four hours. For hosts that wish to create a longer event, they can launch multiple Live events back-to-back.
The Instagram Live feature uses the camera on your device (most likely your smartphone or tablet). While the Swipe-up feature is not available for Live, you can create a comment with a link and pin that comment to the top of your Live event feed. Brands and influencers use this technique to convert viewers.
Instagram provides a number of controls, such as event titles, comment monitoring, live attendance, and real-time engagement with viewers in comments. Instagram AR filters are also available for Live hosts.
What are some advantages of a brand having an Instagram Live event?
With Instagram Live, you can run a virtual event simultaneously on Instagram and Facebook (if you choose). Users on each platform can tune in, invite friends, and ask questions during your live event.
Additional advantages of using Instagram Live for your influencer campaigns include:
- Create a sense of urgency for limited time promotions
- Harness the power of event marketing without health (COVID-19) or venue capacity limitations
- Maintain impressions that last longer than a single post view
- Increase your audience reach
- Build anticipation around an announcement or product launch
- Create content that offers group participation
How do you Go Live on Instagram?
If you know how to post on Instagram, then “going live” is simple.
Starting Your Video
Begin by opening your Instagram app and navigating to the top or bottom (depending on whether you’re using an Apple or Android device) menu. As displayed in the screenshot below, you should see a plus (+) icon, followed by a heart and messenger icon. Click the plus (+) icon.
Image via Instagram
At the bottom of your screen, there is a carousel selection tool with options to post an image or a variety of video posts. Use your finger to scroll to the right until “LIVE” is highlighted.
Image via Instagram
To launch your Live post, simply hit the multi-colored broadcast button (as shown above) in the bottom center of your screen. Once you hit the broadcast button, you are live!
The Viewer Experience
Followers will notice that you are Live by the blue dot at the top right of your account image icon. The Live video on news feeds will also say “Live” at the top center of the video.
Viewers “attend” simply by viewing your Live video. If they want to participate, they can engage you in real-time through the comments. That’s why it’s always a good idea to have someone (maybe the Live host) stationed at a desktop so that they can answer comments right away.
If you’ve partnered with an influencer to run your Live event, then it’s critical that you or a member of your team is actively engaging viewers in the comments.
Going Live Using One or Two Instagram Accounts
One of the great things about Instagram Live is that you can include more than one person in your event. But instead of cramming several people into one camera screen, you can actually invite another account to launch Instagram Live with you.
Influencer-only Live Event
Many influencer campaigns featuring Live events are influencer-hosted. The brand participates by creating a thorough campaign brief for that influencer, promoting the event ahead of time, and then engaging with fans in the comments.
Co-branded Event (Brand and Influencer)
If you’d like to host an event and invite your influencer to “Go Life With” you, Instagram allows you to search among your followers that are currently online and invite them to join your video.
Image via Instagram
Using two different accounts during your Live event will launch a vertically split screen, as shown above.
Image via Instagram
In a co-branded Live event between your brand and the influencer, you can dual-host your event and generate more engagement. (Note: this feature also works if you want two influencers to run your campaign while you focus on engaging comments.)
How to Run an IG Live Event Campaign
Your IG Live event is unique from your other campaigns in that there’s no time to polish or edit your content before posting. As such, you should plan as much as possible, because once you and/or your influencer are Live, there’s no turning back.
But before you panic, just remember that consumers love authenticity. That means that it’s okay if the Live host stumbles here and there or makes a minor mistake. There’s no shame if the host recovers quickly and makes their “mistake” an endearing one.
That said, it’s a huge mistake to launch your IG Live event with little to no planning. Here’s a step-by-step quick guide to planning and running your event.
1. Set Your Objectives
As with any marketing campaign, it’s important to decide what you want to accomplish during and immediately after your IG Live event. If possible, narrow your objectives down to two or three to keep your team and influencer focused on meeting those objectives.
Common objectives for an IG Live event include (but are not limited to):
- Increase followers for your brand’s Instagram page
- Convert customers
- Inform audiences (i.e., tutorials, how-to, etc.)
- Increase brand awareness
- Gather subscribers (email and/or SMS)
2. Establish Tags, Hashtags, AR Filters, Links, etc.
After defining your objectives, consider what tools you’ll need to meet those goals. Establishing tags, branded hashtags, and trackable landing page links are great ways to track performance and set key performance indicators (KPIs).
If you’re using an influencer management platform like GRIN, the software can generate these links for you automatically.
Also, you can create an event-specific AR filter using Spark AR for your event. Doing so will allow followers to engage your brand in a unique way, as well as increase brand awareness after the event is over.
Download Spark AR for your device here.
3. Outline Everything in Your Influencer Campaign Brief
Your planning should include a fairly rigid agenda that might include timestamps and an event outline. The goal is to make it clear for your influencer what you want to accomplish and communicate to viewers.
Your influencer campaign brief should also include any event-specific tools you’ve created (see step 2 above). Be sure that your influencer understands your intent and directions.
4. Collaborate with Your Influencer
As critical as it is to provide specific directions to your influencer prior to the Live event, it’s important to remember that the influencer is usually experienced at running these kinds of virtual events. If you micromanage your influencer, you’re less likely to achieve best results.
That’s why it’s a good idea to ask your influencer for input on the event agenda and outline. By allowing the influencer to make suggestions and refinements to your plan, your event will have a greater impact on your audience.
5. Promote the Event Ahead of Time
After confirming the agenda and setting an IG Live event date, it’s time to promote your event. If you have a team of influencers running evergreen campaigns, it’s a good idea to ask those influencers to help you promote the event, too.
6. Launch Your Event
On the day of the event, there’s nothing left to do but put your plans into action. Remember to have a brand team member stationed at a computer to engage viewer comments as they occur.
7. Monitor Comments
If you’re worried about inappropriate content appearing in the event comments, Instagram does allow you to set restrictions. You can filter out keywords associated with potential spam or offensive comments in your (or the influencer’s) account settings.
8. Track Performance
You can follow key metrics to see how well your IG Live event is doing. Here is a breakdown of those metrics:
- Viewers – At the top, you can see who is attending the virtual event at all times . At the end of the event, you can see how many people total tuned in (even if they couldn’t stay for the entire event). Your view count represents the number of impressions or your reach.
- Likes/Reactions – Likes may not amount to much as compared to comments and conversions. However, a like is a positive response and a valid metric.
- Comments – Comments (particularly thoughtful questions) are strong engagements to your campaign. Responding to these comments positively and promptly can increase your link clicks and conversions.
- Link Clicks – When a viewer visits the link in your pinned comment (CTA), that action indicates consumer interest. You can calculate your click-thru rate (CTR) by dividing the number link clicks by the number of total views. To properly track these link clicks, you can build a landing page with a unique URL for the event and track visits on your preferred web analytics platform.
- Conversions – Each time an audience member does what you want them to do (purchase, subscribe, etc.), that counts as a conversion.
9. Share Your Finished Video
Once your IG Live event is over, you have a few options. First, the event host may download the Live event as a video to their device to share at a later time on other platforms. If your influencer hosted the event, make sure to acquire a video download of your event to repurpose at a later time.
You can also share your Live event as an IGTV post on Instagram or share it directly to Facebook. Once an IGTV post, you can share the video in your (or your influencer’s) Instagram Stories and add a Swipe-up to your online store or sign-up page.
Instagram Live Best Practices
As a quick recap, there are several critical components to a successful Instagram Live campaign. Here are just a few best practices to keep in mind.
Have a plan.
Don’t wing it! IG Live events are supposed to be casual, but a poorly planned Live event will create disinterest among members of your audience. If you’re working with an influencer, don’t be afraid to ask for their input when creating a plan.
Engage viewers in comments and messages.
The best IG Live events feature extensive conversations between viewers and the brand during the event. Depending on the type of event (i.e., tutorial, product unveiling, review, how-to, etc.), the event host may not be able to engage every comment.
Furthermore, if an influencer is promoting your products or services, the burden of engagement falls on you, especially if viewers have questions about your brand.
If you’re effective at connecting with audience members during the Live event, then you’ll not just drive conversions, but you will also increase your follower count on your brand page.
Choose event launch time carefully.
Choosing a day and time to launch your event should be a key part of your event planning. Consider your audience, such as their lifestyle and time zone, before picking a launch time.
Position your campaign CTA in a pinned comment.
To achieve your campaign goals, you should have a clear call-to-action (CTA), along with a link. After creating a CTA, make sure to create a comment with that CTA (and link) and then to pin that comment to the top.
The event host can reference “next steps” listed in the “top comment.” Using the pinned comment feature ensures that viewers have the option to convert if they choose.
Stay focused on your objectives.
Instagram Live events are a lot of fun, and it’s important to your audience that you and your host do just that. However, don’t veer too far away from your objectives. Keeping your campaign goals at the forefront of your event gives you the best chance of reaching those objectives.
Don’t forget about AR filters.
AR filters are just as fun for adults as they are for kids. And thanks to Spark AR, Instagram allows brands to custom-create AR filters. If you have the ability and the time to add an AR filter or two, you can increase viewer engagement both during and after the Live event.
How do you share your finished influencer live video?
Your IG Live event doesn’t have to stop after your Live post ends. You have the option to download a video of your Live event, add it to IGTV, post on Facebook, create an Instagram Story, repurpose for paid media, or all of the above.
With practice, you and your influencer team can leverage Instagram Live events for better results. To refine your approach, it’s a good idea to debrief your influencer and marketing team after the event to discuss how it went and what could be done differently the next time around.
Due to COVID-19, more and more marketing events are going online. And as consumers emerge from quarantine, many experts predict that hybrid events (in-person and virtual) are the future of event marketing. Instagram Live gives your brand the opportunity to create virtual and hybrid events for free. As you gather more experience using influencers to increase the effectiveness of your virtual campaigns, you’ll be able to lower your costs and increase conversions at the same time.