How To Use Instagram Live Video


…This Instagram Live Video Guide Is What You Need To See

If you’ve not seen Instagram Live then you must have been hiding under a rock. It’s a pretty new feature and if you aren’t using it… you should be.

Basically, Instagram Live lets you stream a video to your followers in real time, creating that oh-so perfect combination of urgency and engagement.

Yep, no time for retakes or edits. You’re LIVE.

Sounds scary, right? It’s not so bad…

People aren’t expecting a perfectly scripted, professional video. They know you’re live and that’s why they’re watching. They want to see you being you. Not a polished video that’s been rehearsed several times – that’s not exactly spontaneous and fun is it?

Show your human side and your followers will form a bond with you and keep coming back for more.

Your Instagram Live video disappears as soon as you’ve finished streaming…but you have the option to share it to your story so it can be replayed for the next 24 hours – just like your story. And in the same way, the more you update your story, the more you stay at the top of your followers’ feed… so stay active!

Why Go Live?

Well, aside from it being one tactic to get you your first 500 followers on Instagram

Disappearing videos means that only the people who watch you at that time will be involved. This creates a sense of urgency.

People don’t like to miss out – going live will encourage your followers to watch you as soon as that notification pops up.

That’s what you want, right? Of course!

It’s like the exclusivity club – if you don’t watch the live stream then what have you missed out on?!

You can go live anywhere at anytime – perfect for letting your followers get to know you and sharing moments that can’t be caught in a picture and posted to your page.

And if you want your followers to get to know you and you want to get to know your followers, live gives you the chance to interact directly with them…

How? Easy.

During a live video, viewers can comment throughout, just like on Facebook live.

This is the perfect opportunity for you to answer your followers’ questions, ask your own and engage with them on a personal level.

I mean, if I’m watching a live video and someone sees my comment and speaks directly to me – I feel awesome!

Say hello to people watching who aren’t already following you and when you start to see regular names popping up, say hi and ask something that shows you remember them. This will make them feel valued and show you care about your followers.

There’s so many ways that going live can help your brand or business.

But first… how do you know who your audience is and what they want to see?

Are they a loyal fan just jumping in on the video to see what’s new?

Or are they a newbie who have never seen you before?

If you have a business, the loyal fans will know a lot more about it and about you personally – that makes it easier to jump straight into business talk.

But what about the newbies? They don’t know who you are..

Well this is where your strategy comes in.

Strategy? Oh that sounds daunting.

Well actually it’s quite simple.

Your strategy is catering for both.

But how do I do that?


Mix it up while you stream. Try to throw in something for the loyal fans and for the beginners.

That way you have both of their attention the whole way through and you’re probably pleasing the people in the middle too.

So, from a business-y point of view, Instagram Live has a lot of the same benefits as Instagram stories but with some extra features which can be a bonus for your business.

Like I mentioned above, Live means you can connect on a personal level with your customers and fans. It helps them get to know the real you – no edits or filters.

And why is that good?

Because if they like you (and they probably will), then they’re likely to trust you. And what follows trust?


So next time you’re launching a product and you’ve used an Instagram Live video to tell how amazing it is, your loyal fans are already getting their wallets out.

And filming a live video to generate sales uses a lot less time and effort than writing an advert and promoting it everywhere, right?


Another useful thing on Live is the viewer count. You can see how many people are watching at any time.

But how does that help?

Simple. If the viewer count is dropping as the stream goes on, change it up.

If it’s going up, then you know you’re doing something right.

This will also help as a general pointer for marketing as you’ll have an idea of what people are interested in and what they really don’t care about.

What Can I Use Instagram Live For?

So now we’ve got the Why out of the way. Let’s move on to What you can use Live for.

If you think that Live only has a few uses and can’t help your brand or business in any way then I’m sorry to say but you’re wrong.

So let’s look at just a few of the ways you can use it.

Let’s kick it off with the behind the scenes stream.

This is always a popular stream. People love to know what goes on behind the scenes, no matter what your business does… I do! (And I can’t be the only nosy one out there!). If you tell me you don’t, then you’re lying…

Give your viewers a guided tour of where the magic happens, show off your store or warehouse or feature some of the staff – give them a wave! Show the process of making your product or sending the product out to the customer – this is a great way to engage with your customers as they can relate to the process – they’re the final piece!

Have you ever done a Q&A? Well why not?

This is the perfect opportunity to find out what the customers like and don’t like and what they want more of.

And it’s so much quicker than sending an email to every customer asking for feedback. No one wants to type you a long email explaining what they think works well and what doesn’t. Heck, they probably won’t even read yours!

But during a live stream… ‘well I’m already in, I could just leave a comment’.

See how easy that is…

And they will probably stick around to see if you read it out or answer their question.

Next you could try showing a product and how to use it. Treat it like a mini tutorial… a product demo.

This is your chance to convince those customers who are thinking of buying something but aren’t quite sure, that they need your product.

They can see the product in action. And for most people this is a game changer.

Imagine a brand new makeup product being launched, or a brand new watch. You see the products online or in a post on Instagram and think, hmm, yeah that’s nice.

That’s it.

Whereas on Live you can give a demonstration of the makeup – show the coverage and the glow and suddenly… Wow! I need this! Take Kylie Jenner for example… She shows off all of her makeup range on live videos…

And the watch… you show someone wearing it, show how the light bounces off it and give a full 360 view whilst explaining all of its features and again – more sales.

People like proof. So if they can see something working or being used, they’re more likely to be interested.

There’s so many accounts out there selling the same products, so sometimes another picture of a watch is just another picture of a watch. Make your brand stand out with Live and use it to get more sales.

Have you run a contest or giveaway on Instagram before?

Live streams are the perfect opportunity to announce the winner.

Let people know when you post the contest that the winner will be announced on whatever day Live at whatever time.

This should entice people into watching and will provide you with an audience who are going to be watching until you announce the winner.

Before you announce the winner, use the opportunity to talk about a new product or answer some questions. You’ll likely get more engagement whilst people wait for the announcement so make the most of it!

And just like streaming a demo of your product, if you provide a service such as fitness or beauty, then why not stream it live?

Show your skills in action and give your followers a taster of what they could get from you.

Another idea for using live to increase engagement is to share celebrations and milestones with your followers. If you’ve made it to 10k Instagram followers, jump on live and show how happy and thankful you are. Share the moment with your followers.

If you’ve just celebrated the business’ 1st birthday, jump on Instagram and get them involved! Use these opportunities to share a special promotion or discount with your followers as a thank you – but exclusively offer it in Live. This will again create the urgency to watch your live video next time you stream in the chance that they will miss out on something otherwise.

It all sounds great, right?

How To Go Instagram Live

It’s super simple. In fact it’s simpler than posting on your feed.

Step 1: Swipe right on your home feed to open the camera feature. (Or if you’ve already got a story, tap to view it and click your profile picture in the top left corner with a + sign).

Step 1

Step 2: Swipe left across the bottom of the screen to change the camera setting from Normal to Live.

Step 2

Step 3: Press the button to start the Live Video!

And you’re live! (Well, Instagram checks your connection and gives you a three second countdown – so if you’re not 100% ready, you still have time to sort your hair and check your teeth – I can’t be the only one that does that, right?)


It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3.

Your followers will get a notification that you’ve gone live so they can watch you.

If for any reason you don’t want your followers to get a notification then you can turn off notifications in settings.

In any case, a colourful ring will appear around your profile photo to tell people that you have a story or you are live. People can just tap your profile picture to view it.

Your profile icon with the colourful circle will also appear on the top of your followers’ feeds with everyone else who has a story or is live. This makes it super easy for people to just scroll through all the stories or live videos at once.

(Don’t forget to check which way your camera is facing! And don’t forget you can toggle the direction whilst filming, just like when taking a picture

Now before you do go live, I recommend checking your Instagram story settings to check who can see your story. You can do this by clicking the settings icon in the top left of your screen before you click to go live (the icon looks like a cog).

Story Settings

When you’re live you can see how many people are watching your broadcast at any time with the counter at the bottom of the screen. It also gives you the name of the users who have joined the stream.

This little feature helps you keep track on how engaged your audience is – you can see if people are joining and then leaving straight away or if they’re staying for the show.

Credit: Instagram


You also have the power to stop people from commenting using the magic three dots on the bottom of the screen. So if you want to build some hype or have a specific Q&A section of your stream you can turn them on and off throughout the video to suit you!

But… any keyword filters that you’ve turned on will also apply to comments on your live video.

If you spot a super awesome comment you can tap and hold it to pin it to the top of the comments. This way, anyone viewing the video will be able to see it.

There’s always going to be that worry that someone is going to leave negative comments – those three buttons allow you to control that. But if there’s someone watching who you don’t want to, well you have the power again… If you tap on the number of viewers on the screen, you’ll notice that each name has a small ‘X’ next to it… Yeah?

Just tap that ‘X’ and that person has been kicked out. It’s as simple as that. And no one has to know!

Ending Your Live Stream

So when you want to end your live video, simply tap the end button at the top of the screen and that’s it!

A summary of your analytics will appear on the screen telling you the number of viewers etc. If you’re planning on including live videos into your brand regularly, it might be a good idea to screenshot this analytics screen as a reminder of how successful this video was. You can then compare these results with the next one and the next one and then build up a picture of what type of videos your audience likes more. And then you’ll be able to provide more of the content they like which means more views!

Credit: Instagram

If your story is public or if you have added a hashtag or location to it then your story or live video might even appear at the top of the Explore page. If it is appearing here, then you’ll see the location or hashtag page at the top of the list of people who have viewed your story. This gives huge exposure as way more people than just your followers will view it.

There’s also the chance of way more followers as a result… so fingers crossed!

If you don’t want your story or live video to appear here though, simply tap the ‘X’ at the side of its name and it’s gone!

So your live video was super successful and you wish you could watch it back to remember exactly what you said and pick out those good bits… Well actually you can do that! When the video has ended, simply tap the ‘Save’ button in the top right corner of the screen and it will save to your phone.

It will not save to the app or your profile though, just to your phone. And it won’t save who was viewing it or how many viewers you had, so remember to always take that screenshot we talked about earlier!

Instagram has recently added a new feature which allows users to share their Live videos to their stories for 24 hours after it has ended – just like a regular story. If you want to do this, simply swipe right on the ‘Share your video for 24 hours’ message which appears after your video has ended and tap ‘Share’. This allows anyone to view your live video as many times as they want for 24 hours afterwards – perfect for those who missed it!

How To Get The Most Out Of Live

There’s no point planning out a Live stream, what you’re going to say, what you’re going to ask and what you’re going to share, if no one is going to watch it, is there?


So promote your live video before you broadcast it.

The goal is to attract as many viewers as possible to your stream. Like with your posts, the more views and engagement your stream is creating, the more likely you’ll end up on the Explore page as Instagram recognises that it’s popular and might be of interest to others too.

Once your video is over, it’s gone. No one will see it again – your followers can’t watch a replay. They have that one chance to see it – so make sure they do.

Let people know a couple of days in advance that you’re going to be live. Your fans (and yes you will have some) will remember the date and time.

Cross promote on your other social media accounts and even get your friends to promote your live video on their accounts too.

The more hype you try to build, the bigger your audience and more engagement.

To get more people to tune in each time you go live, reward them.

What? How do I do that?


You need to make sure that they realise your live video is worth their attention for the whole stream.

Rewarding them can be simply giving them a discount code at the end of the stream, or giving them early access to a part of your website before it has gone live.

This will not only make your viewers feel valued, but make them click to view your live stream next time in the hope that they’ll be given something else.

You could also consider giveaways that are only available whilst the Live stream is running. Give viewers a discount code to use on your website which is valid for the length of the stream and for a small amount of time afterwards (this gives those people who want to watch the full stream chance to watch it and still get the discount). This makes your stream definitely worth watching and makes the offer exclusive!

Using Live For Business

Incorporating Live into your Instagram business strategy can seem quite daunting, especially if you want to maintain that professional image.

But like I talked about earlier, it doesn’t have to be scripted and perfect, you’ll find that more customers can relate to you and your brand when they can see the real you. People like personality – so show this. You’ll be surprised how this is reflected in your engagement.

So, lets look at some ways in which you can use Live for business.

Q&A Sessions

Just like with your brand (or even personal account) you can use a Q&A session for your followers to get to know you – the founder/face of the business or to get some feedback from your customers. You don’t need to come fully prepared with the questions and the answers because that will be boring.

Take advantage of the comments feature and let your viewer engage with you.

And… if there are any awkward silences, take out those FAQ’s you’ve brought with you (I didn’t say don’t come prepared at all) and rattle some of those off. This might also prompt some questions from viewers who weren’t sure what to ask.


Whether you sell a product or a service, a tutorial is a great way to show people more.

Demonstrate how to use the product, or different things you can do with it which they probably hadn’t thought of…

That new liquid lipstick – hey look at this… it doubles as an eyeliner!

Or, if you offer a service such as personal training, show off some exercises that people can try at home. Whatever you try, you’re delivering value.

People like value and the more you provide, the more they will come back. It also shows that you aren’t just selling something for the sake of it – it’s something you’re passionate about and you know your stuff!

Behind the Scenes

Just like we talked about earlier… show people where the magic happens. Let people in on the secret. The more personal your business is, the more trust your customers will have in you.


You must have seen these on some of your favourite accounts?

This is basically where one of your team or an influencer in your industry takes over your Instagram for the day. They stream the live videos, they post the pictures, they engage with the fans.

These are super popular because not only are your followers getting a ‘behind the scenes’ kinda look by following someone round for the day but they’re getting to know one of the people they follow on social media.

And… it’s likely that if the influencer chooses the products they love and features them on the stream, the viewers will want those too! (Yes, I have been one of those viewers…).

Build up the takeover to become an event. Build hype!

Remember, the more people talking about it, the more engagement, the more follows, the more sales.

Easy, right?

Promote New Products

As there is that sense of urgency around live – you ain’t there, you ain’t in the loop – well take advantage of this and use if to build hype around your new products. If Live is the place where you’re giving sneak peeks of new products or new designs before anywhere else, then people won’t want to miss it.

If you want to build even more hype, just give teasers… Tell your viewers little bits about the product, but not the whole thing. Then use this opportunity to ask people to sign up to your website for more info, or to share a post and when shares reach a certain level, more info will be published.

This gives your live stream that element of exclusivity, making people take action right there and then instead of waiting and thinking about if they want to.

Collecting Email Addresses

So you’ve advertised you’re holding a Q&A right?… All you need now are some Q’s and then you can give some A’s.

One way to do this beforehand is to ask people to submit questions via email and then you’ll answer them on the Live Stream.

You got it… you’re killing two birds with one stone.

You’re collecting email addresses (increasing your leads) and you’re creating a content plan for your stream (so you have to do less work thinking of questions and you have a heads up about what people really want to know!).

Get Ideas For Your Next Product or Project

Whatever you’re using the Live Stream for, the comments should give you an idea of what people like and what they don’t like. So should the number of views – you might notice you attract more viewers for streams showing one product than another. Use these analytics combined with Q&A’s etc. to help decide on future products.

With all of these, don’t forget to include a call to action at several points throughout the stream. Most people won’t stay to the end – we all know this – but you still want your message to reach them, right? Yes. So CTA CTA CTA! (CTA = Call to Action).

But What About Small Businesses?

Should I really bother with Instagram Live Video? I only have 200 followers…

Yes! You should!

It doesn’t matter how many followers or potential customers you have. Going Live and giving them that personal touch and insight into your business and your personality is making them feel valued.

If your customers feel valued and get to know you on a personal level through Live, why would they go to your bigger competitor? They probably wouldn’t.

Some bigger businesses can’t respond to or engage with everyone just because of the size of their audience – it’s physically impossible. Well unless they streamed live 24/7 – but even then, some businesses would struggle.

The difference is, you can. You have that advantage of being able to talk to your customers on a personal level and that’s what some people value.

I Don’t Have A Brand And I’m Not A Business

Live is still something which can be used to get more likes and follows on personal accounts. It’s the perfect way to engage with your followers.

Use it to share moments of your day or to let people know you’ve posted a new Youtube video. It’s the perfect way to get your message across to everyone at the right time.

And it could be just for fun!

Bit nervous about going live alone? Don’t worry… Instagram has now added the feature of going Live with a friend… Phew. Less pressure on me!

It’s super simple to add a guest to your live stream. Simply tap the ‘New’ icon at the bottom of your screen and then ‘Add’. This will let you choose one person who is currently watching, to add to your stream.

Your screen will then split into two and your friend will appear below you! Everything else happens like normal, comments, likes etc. but your friend can now also see the same screen as you.

Cool, right?

If you want, you can give your friend the boot at any time, or, they can leave when they’re ready.

Multiple Live Streams In Business

Just like I have explained about inviting a friend to go live with you, this double stream feature could also be a great Stream option for brands or business.

Try streaming with a colleague in another location… Or try adding a customer to your live stream to give a testimonial of your product. This is the perfect opportunity to show authority – if someone who has used and benefitted from the product is telling you about their good experience – you’re more likely to trust that, right?

You can easily add or remove who you want so you’re still in control.

Can I Choose Who I Go Live To?

Apart from removing people from viewing your live stream, you can’t select who you go live to.

Buuuuut all is not lost…

You can send a ‘disappearing’ picture or video directly to a friend or a group on Instagram – just like a picture or video you would post to your story, but it disappears after they have viewed it (Kinda like another app we all know and love so much… ).

To do this, swipe right on your home screen to open the camera then tap or hold the big button on the screen to take your picture or video. Then tap the arrow and choose who to send it to.

Your friend has the chance to replay the picture or video once but once they’ve done this, it’s gone forever!

Remember, you can only send disappearing pictures or videos to the people who follow you.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here