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How to Use Instagram Live for Your Business

Jesse Ingalls
July 14, 2017
Lasted Updated On

Our observations have led us to discover that Instagram Live is one of the most underused Instagram features. Don't let it paralyze you. It's time to get on the front lines with the below 8 creative ways to use live video on the 'Gram.

Folks jumped on the Instagram Stories bandwagon, but its live counterpart is still widely untapped. Hate it or love it, the Live tool is here to stay, people. And we think it provides brands an amazing opportunity to execute a fully rounded social media strategy. Why not explore new content ideas to build more intimate, meaningful relationships with your audience? Plus it’s just a lot of fun.

A month ago, we discussed IG live and how it’s important to fit into your content strategy. As a refresher, here are the Cliffs notes on the best practices.

  • Have a plan – If you press live with no plan and no prior warning it’s about to get real awkward real quick.
  • Cross function promotion – Let people know what’s up in as many ways and places as possible. You want to get that Instagram engagement as high as possible.
  • Set a schedule – Create consistency. On a positive note, you can now save live videos so that people can view them later. They have a 24 hour shelf life like story posts.
  • Stay in your lane – If you make cardigans talk about cardigans, not hockey skates.
  • Offer value – Give people a reason to tune in. Ex: consider giveaways that are only redeemable while live.

Once armed with your technical blueprint, it’s time to get going with content creation. Remember: it’s important to stay on brand at all times even if you're live. And while live implies being off the cuff, a degree of planning is critical. Don't drop your high standards because you're relying on ephemerality.

We encourage you to prep for your Insta Live content brainstorm by taking a look a around at what’s popular on other platforms. This can help jig ideas and drum up inspiration. For instance, feeling out Facebook Live and YouTube can summon creativity and birth some ideas that could very much transfer to Instagram.

We're starting the white board sesh by laying out 8 creative Instagram Live scenarios that you can ideate on, whether you're a fashion brand, a publisher, or a health and wellness company. Check them out below and hit the ground running.

1. Runway Shows

Social media marketing tips 101: the Internet breaks down physical borders and allows you to be everywhere and reach everyone. It has a niche for all and the fashion industry has found a hub in Instagram. And you can't have fashun without a runway show. These events are typically exclusive, with some brands live-streaming their affairs online. Now think about taking those moments from the computer screen to the smartphone screen. Doing an in-the-moment broadcast directly from mobile breaks down all the remaining barriers to accessibility.

Brands like John Elliott and Off White have been live streaming their shows for some time, and this February, the former presented their Fall/Winter collection through IG live. Note the graphic below sent via email the day before the show. It’s a perfect example of cross function/platform promotion. Shouts out John Elliott for having their best practices on lock 🔐.

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2. Daily Workouts

Like with fashion, Instagram is the unofficial hub of fitness. It’s the home of the beautiful, and for most of us, beauty requires a bit a lot of hard work. That means discipline, which goes hand in hand with creating a habit.

We see a lot of fitness brands and ambassadors sharing 1 minute long timeline posts covering certain exercises and workouts. This is good, but we would argue that Live is a better avenue to share exercise sequences. You have more time (an hour), so you can dive deeper and provide more insight than in a minute-long post. You can also interact directly with viewers who can ask questions in real time through comments.

Finally, if you stick to a set schedule —same time, same day— you’ll create that all too vital habit that is required in a successful fitness regime, as well as with a successful Live strategy. Full disclosure though, we don’t condone burpees, they’re just cruel.🤸‍♂️

This for a whole hour? Heck yes.

3. Unboxing

Humans are passionate beings. And when they love something, they really love it. When you have a rabid fan base, you can dive exponentially into a story to sink the hook.

Take me for example — my deepest passion is sneakers. You can never show me enough angles of a shoe. I want to see them all and I want to hear what the experts have to say. This is why sneaker unboxings on IG live have become more and more commonplace via outlets like @sneakernews, @highsnobiety and @nicekicks.

These videos are standard on YouTube, and while that platform enables techniques that you cannot replicate with Insta, you can still captivate an engaged audience's attention with the promise of revealing something about an item they're obsessed with. This can be applied to all kinds of industries, especially beauty and subscription boxes.

But before you go ahead and press play, make sure you know your stuff from front to back and from back to front because there are no second or third takes.

4. Intimate Interview Live Stream

Most top tier magazines center around high profile interviews. Brad Pitt or Jennifer as a cover story, be it online or in print, moves the needle. You know what else would really move the needle? A BTS, unedited, unfettered and unapologetic approach.

Imagine an unscripted one-on-one with an open-minded, willing participant (perhaps a celebutante who belongs to the social generation and who has fully embraced the medium?) for the type of raw and unfiltered result that performs so well on social. And although IG live videos can be saved for 24 hours, what makes this idea so enticing is that the interaction and content is unrehearsed and fleeting, as the expiration date provides urgency. After the interview airs, the IG Live efforts culminate in a cover story. 🎬

5. Tours

People are obsessed with how buildings look like on the inside. Obsessed. How else can you explain the popularity of MTV Cribs and House Hunters International? Speaking of MTV Cribs, what if the series was resurrected and lived in the Insta Live space exclusively?

Opening it up to more than just cribs, live tours could be a splendid value-add for outlets similar to the Coveteur, whose mission is "behind the scenes and beyond". This seems as though it would count as "beyond".

6. Editing Sessions

How often do you look at a beautiful piece of content and ask yourself "how the frig did they do that?" If you work on the Internet, it’s probably every hour. There are some very powerful softwares out there that enable the creation of mind-blowing visuals. It would behoove the providers of this world like Lightroom and Photoshop to demonstrate the capability of their programs on video. Preferably live.

These industries could hand over their live streams to established artists and have them share their workflow to provide awesome proof points while engaging followers. A scenario like this would draw people in for entertainment purposes, as well as provide all of the evidence required to have interested parties sign up for their software services.

7. Build It, They Will Come

A lot of companies hang their hat on the idea of "easy," or a business model that canters around providing convenience and simplifying things. It’s easy to say something is easy, but where is the proof? It should be shared via IG live, duh. Stay with me.

Take Blue Apron, who "makes cooking fun & easy by sending you all the ingredients for incredible meals." If I’m not a good cook (which I’m not), then no matter how many times you tell me it’s easy, I still won’t believe you. But if you show me how easy cooking can be by demonstrating it, I’m likely to change my tune.

Food subscription boxes, take heed. Choose one of the meals from your repertoire and prepare the whole thing on IG Live. Repeat weekly and you’ll turn skeptics into believers. This also works with any product that needs to be assembled by the end user.

Insert Ikea — imagine if they made a piece of furniture on the air every day. Or once a week. They could even take requests from users to build things they are having trouble building. The moral of the story: if you pride yourself on providing an easy solution, show, don’t tell.

Show us how, Ikea.

8. The Comment Roundup

There is a world within the world in the comment section. Opinions, jokes, insults and even compliments are hurled at breakneck speed. Most of it is drivel, but for accounts with a super engaged audience there is a lot of good quality, thoughtful insight.

The comment section is a fascinating place and it should have its own show. WHAT AN IDEA. An Insta Live show dedicated to the comment section and the users who bring it to life. This could be a unique opportunity for a brand to give back to the community that keeps it running. Spread the love, reap the love.

Imagine a similar show centered around the comment section. Genius.

Hopefully the above 8 examples get your mind wandering around the unbridled opportunity that is Instagram Live content. Remember to always keep your core business function in mind and try to solve potential problems your brand might be facing with its content.

Now put on your thinking cap and get to brainstorming. We can’t wait to see what you come up with. 💡

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