Instagram launched this week Instagram Live, it’s new service that lets users broadcast live videos using the photo sharing app. This is the company’s first foray into live-streaming, and it works much like Twitter’s Periscope and Facebook Live, where videos are shared candidly and in the moment
Instagram Live works by streaming real-time videos via Instagram Stories. But unlike Stories, Periscope and Facebook Live, Instagram Live videos aren’t hosted on the platform — they are deleted immediately after each live session and are not posted to users’ feeds. Businesses also now have the option of sending disappearing photos and videos to individual customers and groups via Direct Message. [See Related Story: How to Use Instagram Stories for Your Business]
To start an Instagram Live session, swipe right from Instagram’s home screen and tap the "Start Live Video" button. Followers are notified when you go live, and a "live" indicator also appears under your photo on the Instagram Stories bar.
Instagram Live videos are available publicly and privately, and in both cases customers must tune in right there and then to see what’s happening and not miss out. For small businesses, Instagram Live presents an opportunity for more engagement and creating deeper connections with followers and customers. Here are three creative ways to use Instagram Live for your small business.
1. Host an interactive Q&A
Engage with customers and answer their questions in real time.
Instagram Live is both a real-time video broadcasting tool and engagement platform. In addition to viewing videos, users can also interact with hosts and other viewers via live chat. Each video feed comes with a comments section at the bottom of the screen, where anyone in the audience can share their thoughts, ask questions and leave reactions via "likes."
To host a Q&A, let customers know when you will be holding an Instagram Live video session. Have them either send in their questions ahead of time via Direct Message or ask them during the broadcast in the comments section for a more interactive experience.
2. Broadcast a class, tutorial or demo
Show customers how your products and services work via live tutorials, demos and free classes.
Unlike regular Instagram posts and stories, Instagram Live does not have a 1-minute or 10-second time limit on videos. This means business owners can host longer live video sessions — up to an hour — to boost sales by highlighting their products and services and engaging with customers.
For instance, gym owners and fitness instructors can broadcast workouts and live classes; cosmetics companies and makeup artists can show live tutorials on what their products look like in real life; and restaurant owners and chefs can do a live cooking session to show foodies how a dish is prepared. Just set up your device on a tripod or stand for hands-free broadcasts.
3. Show a behind-the-scenes look at your business
Humanize your business by giving customers a behind-the-scenes look at your operations. Some examples include demonstrating how a product is made, giving customers a sneak peek at upcoming events or even going around the office to show customers real faces behind your business. Because Instagram Live videos disappear right after each session and aren’t posted to your account, you don’t have to worry about breaking your feed of curated posts or showing anything that you don’t want available in the long-term.
For more information on using Instagram as a small business, check out our comprehensive guide: Instagram for Business: Everything You Need to Know.