If you’re an ecommerce marketer or entrepreneur and you want to get more traffic and sales from Instagram, you’re in the right place.
Ecommerce companies are constantly asking themselves…
How do I use Instagram for business?
And the answer right now, undoubtedly, is Instagram Live.
It’s one of the most undersaturated features of Instagram and therefore has the largest organic reach.
Your success is measured by the engagement that your live stream draws.
Therefore, to successfully use this feature to grow your business, you’ll need to know what factors and behaviors drive engagement with live stream videos.
Let’s take a quick look:
Exclusivity. Instagram Live videos are different from Stories or other Instagram features in that they are available only while the broadcaster is still streaming and only current viewers can interact with the videos. The exclusive nature of these videos drives engagement.
Curiosity. Humans are curious by nature, and we love new stimulation. People engage with live streams because they are curious to see new content on Instagram they might otherwise miss.
Recognition. Everyone loves an online shout-out. Because the subscribers on live streams are visible, broadcasters can call out the names or handles of their viewers. Fandom and the desire to be recognized by a broadcaster drives people to engage with live videos.
Interaction. The desire to contribute to the broadcast attracts people to Instagram Live. Live streaming permits viewers to take part in the broadcast, and the thrill of being part of the show and affecting the broadcast is very exciting to some people.
Community. Because live videos are limited in availability and duration, their audience is smaller, giving viewers a sense of community and camaraderie with other subscribers.
As with almost everything, creating engaging live video content takes practice. But we’ve got you covered; follow the list of 11 best practices below to get started and hit the ground running.
1. Get personal
One of the main reasons for using Instagram Live is to allow your followers to connect with you more intimately. To help your viewers feel this connection, speak directly into the camera, relax your face, and maintain eye contact (even if you’re wearing sunglasses)…
Sometimes it can feel strange to talk to a group of complete strangers who are located hundreds or thousands of miles away, but practice will help you get this right.
The truth is, with any type of Instagram marketing, it takes time to get used to the format and being in the spotlight.
TIP: WHAT TO DO NEXT: Help bridge the distances involved by imagining that you’re speaking with a close friend. This will make the experience more comfortable and authentic for both you and your viewers.
2. Ditch the script
You will make a more natural connection with your viewers if you speak freely without using a script. Be yourself, and attract followers with your authenticity.
You’ll probably never make a perfect live video, but that’s okay; you’re only human and your viewers will appreciate seeing that side of you.
And as you build confidence recording live streams, you’ll learn to record off-the-cuff and ad lib, using your notes only for reference.
TIP: WHAT TO DO NEXT: To avoid rambling, prepare a list of points you want to discuss and do a practice run of your live video beforehand. Aim to focus on your prepared speaking points but also go with the flow and improvise if need be.
3. Tell a story
A common mistake live broadcasters make is focusing the video on themselves, using the classic who?, what?, how?, and why? structure that answers the following questions:
- Who am I?
- What do I do? / What does my company do?
- How is my product/company/idea different?
- Why should you buy/support my product/me?
This structure is bland, and using it result in a video that sounds scripted and sales-pitchy. To create more compelling live video content, turn your focus from yourself to your audience.
It is critical to establish why your audience should care about your brand from the outset. Once your viewers are invested, you’ll have the space to explain how your product can better their lives and what concrete action they should take.
TIP: WHAT TO DO NEXT: Try using the three-act structure.
Divide your live videos into three acts: The Setup (Act 1), The Confrontation (Act 2), and The Resolution (Act 3). Place yourself in your viewers’ shoes, and ask the following questions from their perspective:
- Act 1: Why should I care about you or your company?
- Act 2: How will your product enhance my life?
- Act 3: What action should I take?
By turning your focus outward, you will train yourself to make videos that address the needs of your viewers.
As you prepare your live streams and create your list of speaking points, make sure your video answers all three of the questions above. By doing so, you will not only increase engagement, but you will tell a compelling story that hooks your subscribers, motivates action, and sells products.
4. It’s a sprint, not a marathon
The most crucial element of Instagram Live success is hooking your audience within the first few seconds. To do this, deliver your key messages early and quickly.
Your Instagram Live should be no longer than five minutes. Generally on Instagram—but especially with live streams—less is more, and consistency is key.
TIP: WHAT TO DO NEXT: Publish shorter videos on a regular and predictable basis. Train your audience to expect videos that are short, sweet, and arrive consistently. This will grow a base of regular subscribers.
5. Show your true emotions
Humans are emotional creatures, and we connect with information more deeply when it moves us on an emotional level, as opposed to a rational level. As Maya Angelou famously said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Let this quote guide you as you begin recording live videos for your brand.
Use your genuine emotions to tell stories that will build authentic connections with your audience. It’s not enough to simply state facts about your products and how they will benefit your viewers.
Check out this video from David JP Phillips about the art and science of storytelling: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nj-hdQMa3uA
TIP: WHAT TO DO NEXT: Try using your face to paint a picture of your personal story or the could-be stories of your viewers. Let them feel your emotions. People are tuning into your live stream because they want to see the human side of your business.
6. Speak clearly and simply
Remember that you are recording a live video capable of attracting viewers from all over the world. In order to effectively communicate with everyone, use a steady voice and language that is clear, simple, and easy to understand.
TIP: WHAT TO DO NEXT: In your video, use direct, concise, and memorable statements, and try to keep each sentence under 140 characters (like a Twitter post!).
7. Keep it light
You wouldn’t tune into a boring video week after week, and your viewers won’t either.
Keep your live streams fun and engaging by creating light, entertaining content. You want your subscribers to enjoy their time with you on Instagram Live, so give them a reason to keep returning to your stream and share your content across their own networks.
TIP: WHAT TO DO NEXT: Entertaining doesn’t always mean funny. If you happen to crack some jokes organically during your live broadcast, great! But remember that you are the face of your brand, so your on-air persona, along with your jokes, should represent your brand’s values.
8. Engage with your subscribers
People tune into live videos because they are excited to engage with you as the broadcaster. In this way, Instagram Live is different from every other feature on the app because it allows you to listen and respond to your audience.
Communicating with your fans will also build a connection, attract more likes and comments, and lead more people to share your video. Utilize ecommerce apps to notify you when comments get posted so you can respond in a timely manner.
TIP: WHAT TO DO NEXT: Don’t waste your time merely talking into the camera; converse with your audience! By sparking discussions with viewers, you open up the opportunity to receive valuable feedback and suggestions and demonstrate your brand’s loyalty to its customers.
9. Utilize old content
Not every Instagram Live you make needs to be unique and original. Repurpose your previously-published content to jazz up your live streams.
The benefit of reusing old content is that you double down on the opportunity to reach new viewers with your content. Not only can your audience see your new live video, but you may even expose them to earlier content they missed when it was first published!
TIP: WHAT TO DO NEXT: Draw from old videos, infographics, or guest posts to get ideas about what to discuss. Or use your stream to give a behind-the-scenes look at how you created the product featured in a recent Story.
10. Look and sound professional
While live video may seem more informal than some of the other content you publish, it is still important to ensure your live streams look professional and present your brand in the best possible light. Literally.
Make sure you shoot your video in good lighting. The best light to shoot in is natural light. If you have a source of natural light at your office, shoot yourself as you stand facing into the light.
TIP: WHAT TO DO NEXT: Along with optimal lighting, it’s important to have optimal sound. Test your sound quality to make sure the microphone picks up your voice loud and clear.
11. Call to action
The final act of your Instagram Live should involve a call to action. You have your fans’ undivided attention, so tell them what you want from them! Broadcasters who include a clear call to action in their videos draw the highest levels of engagement, so tell your viewers how they can interact with your brand.
“Many brands fall short in this section with a weak or complicated CTA. Ensure the CTA is obvious for your fans and they know exactly what they’ll get if they engage with the CTA.”—David Campbell, Marketing Strategist at Voila Norbert.
The purpose of Instagram Live is to communicate clearly and directly with your audience and give your fans a reason to keep watching more.
TIP: WHAT TO DO NEXT: Decide what the next step for the audience should be: Do you want new subscribers to follow your page? Fans to like your content? Share your video? Subscribe to your newsletter? Be clear!
Because you need to be 100% “on” to film live videos, they are arguably one of the more challenging types of content to create.
But the payout is worth it. By utilizing Instagram Live, you open a range of new opportunities for community-building and customer service, and the genuine connection you make with your fans will create enthusiastic and loyal customers.
Now that you’ve learned the basics for planning and filming powerful and entertaining live videos, it’s your turn! We’ll see you on the air!