How to increase your engagement and follower base with Instagram Live?

How to increase your engagement and follower base with Instagram Live?
Jesse Heslinga

Instagram is currently one of the largest social media platforms, and also the one that seems to be best at finding the right balance between fresh, new features and expanded functionality and options for creators and marketers.

But - as with all social media - the biggest challenges of the platform lie in increasing engagement and growing your follower base.

Instagram Live, the platform's built-in live video feature, could be just the thing to take your brand's social presence to the next level. Read on to find out how.

Why you should experiment with Instagram Live Video at all

Although it has been around since 2016, Instagram Live is one of Instagram's newer features along with Reels and IG TV. If you hadn't started creating and sharing videos on Instagram by now, you might want to reconsider: videos on Instagram get 21.2% more interactions than single images and even 18.6% more than carousel posts.

So what's the difference between Live and IGTV? Well, Live is... live. and IGTV is where you put longer video content that you've pre-recorded. Or rather, was: Instagram announced in October 2021 it was phasing out IGTV.

These are the reasons to look into Instagram Live Video specifically:

Why should you learn about Instagram Live?

Users prefer live video

When it comes to online content, 80% of users who follow brands prefer watching live videos to reading a blog. A survey by LiveStream also found that 82% of people would rather watch a live video than a static post on social media.

The algorithm rewards live video

Instagram's algorithm rewards users who go Live by pushing their Live stream to the top of the Stories list by default, and apparently also by pushing their other content up organically in feeds.

You can create Instagram Live videos with minimal resources

Finally, while creating video content in general can be a tough undertaking, Instagram Live videos seem to work better when they appear as simple and authentic as possible. This means you can easily create engaging and effective video content without a huge investment in terms of money and time. 

And all the while creating content that allows you to connect with your followers in the most personal, direct way possible, at least - beyond actual personal and live contact. What's not to love?

So it might be time to test whether Instagram Live videos can be useful for your audience, and therefore your brand. But before you do, there are a few things you'll want to consider.

1. How does Instagram Live video fit into your broader online marketing strategy and tactics?

Regardless of how your brand uses social media and Instagram in particular, you'll want to think about how Instagram Live video will fit into your online marketing strategies and tactics before you start using it. 

Top-funnel reach and brand awareness

Strategically, Instagram Live is probably best for growing the top of your funnel in terms of reach and brand awareness. And to increase the connection and trust of your brand's followers. A few tactical insights you'll want to take away from this are the following:

  • Share an experience
    When it comes to reach and connection, Instagram Live videos are perfect for sharing an experience, such as an online event or webinar. Or just a fun moment behind the scenes.

  • Make it interactive with Q&A
    Instagram Live sessions are great for Q & A, either between you and your audience or between you and a guest you invite to the session - the latter can be a great way to increase your and your guest's following through cross-pollination. Q & A between you and your audience, meanwhile, is a great way to strengthen the connection with your followers.

  • Focus primarily on educational, inspirational and entertaining content
    Focus on creating content that is educational, inspirational and entertaining and in line with your higher purpose and brand values, and interrupt that "regular programming" with commercial offers (with a relatively low frequency; 1/5 posts).

  • Use Instagram Live to explain your products and services, but do it sparingly
    Instagram Live sessions can work well for explaining a specific offer, or a product or service you are offering, but beware - as always in content marketing, you want to give at least four times before asking for something in return.

  • Show the human side of your brand
    Because Instagram Live videos are ephemeral in nature and your audience expects a less polished version of your brand, it makes sense to use Instagram Live tactically as a way to show the more human side of your brand.

    Give people a behind-the-scenes look at the ins and outs of your business, and even more so, a picture of the people who run it. This is especially valuable if your brand is active in the service industry and/or if your online presence also focuses on employer branding.

  • Metrics: increase engagement and number of followers
    In terms of metrics, Instagram Live videos are great for specifically increasing engagement with your Instagram content, and growing your number of followers, through:

  1. Increased visibility on the platform, as discussed in the introduction to this article, and:
  2. By allowing you to add a "guest" to your Live session for a live interview or Q & A. If you do this, you are likely to borrow some of their audience and your guest will similarly benefit from exposure to your existing audience.

Instagram Live Video gives people a look behind the scenes

2. What are Instagram Live best practices you should consider?

The most important thing you'll want to do when you first start using Instagram Live video is experiment. What works for your business and your brand? More importantly; what seems to work for your audience?

Are they shorter videos of what it looks like 'behind the scenes'? Longer sessions with Q & A's or interviews with (other) influencers in your field? Treat your ideas as hypotheses for your experiments, and use your data to assess those experiments. "Always Be Testing": always collect feedback and analyse data to tell you what your next step should be. 

Apart from that, there are now some clear best practices to take into account. What you don't want is to reinvent the wheel. Here are 8 tips that you can definitely put to use immediately:

  1. Make sure you have a clear goal for your live video in advance.
    keep in mind how the current video fits into your wider online marketing strategy and goals.

  1. Create an outline and rehearse.
    Although you want to come across as natural and authentic as possible, in order to keep up the pace and structure, it is best to make a rough draft of your structure and rehearse your Live session a few times. This will ensure that you share what you want to share in the time you have.

  1. Always end with a CTA.
    In line
    with your goal for this video, what next step can you offer viewers at the end of your Live session? This could be filling out a form, or something as simple as following your account - or even watching the next session.

  1. Consider creating serial content.
    content works because it makes sure people know what to expect. It also gives your brand a big stick to be consistent. Consistency and repetition are the cornerstones of brand building. But of course you knew that already.

  1. Promote the live session as you would an event or webinar.
    sure people know the live session is coming up, what it is about, what time it will be, and why it is relevant or important for them to attend.

  1. Make the session easier to follow for late participants by 'pinning' the title.
    Live gives you a lot of cool features right in the interface. One of them is to pin a comment. Create a comment with the title or purpose of your Live session and pin it to the top of your comment section.

  1. Engage your audience with question stickers.
    cool feature the tool offers is adding question stickers: add these to your Live session to provoke interaction with your audience.

  1. Saveyour video recording to your Camera Roll.
    Instagram Live allows you to share your Live session as a Story in the Stories feed (and also in your Facebook Story) up to 24 hours after the session. But you can also save your video recording to your phone's Camera Roll*, so you can always re-watch and re-use it later. 

*While it has recently become possible to upload content to Instagram from a desktop or laptop computer, it is not yet possible to start an Instagram Live Video using anything other than a mobile device.

Engage your audience with Question Stickers

One of the things you could do with the video you have saved in your Camera Roll is the following:

3. Repurpose content and fit Instagram Live videos into your existing content calendar

Always reuse content that you think is valuable, that has proven to be valuable to your audience, or that reinforces a specific message that is essential to your brand.

Reuse your Live Video recording

In the case of Instagram Live Video, it is easy to imagine how you could edit the video you saved in your camera roll, cut shorter fragments out of it, and repost the whole thing or short fragments to your Instagram wall and any other platforms for which it might be relevant.

This gives your content more time and opportunities to shine, and more chances to be discovered by the right audience. 

Reuse existing visual content in your Live Video

This also works the other way around: within the Instagram Live interface, you can add images or existing videos from your phone to your Instagram Live session. Think of sharing a quote or snippet from a previous Live Video session in the current one, or an image relevant to the topic being discussed.

Getting the maximum value out of live video content

Finally, you can imagine blogs and other written content being turned into Instagram Live instructional sessions, and vice versa. The possibilities are endless, and this way of 'repurposing' content is a very effective way of finding out which stories are best for which segments of your audience, and in which format.

Successful examples
More inspiration? Check out the example of how AirBNB uses Instagram Live to let you virtually participate in a tour. Or the example of fitness & lifestyle brand Equinox that offers a daily yoga session through Instagram's Live platform. 

By using the strategic and tactical considerations in this article, you will get the most value from Instagram Live for your brand. And you can increase your follower count and engagement, while helping to build your brand and further your online marketing goals. 

Here's how to get the maximum value from the time and energy you invest in creating Live Video content on Instagram. Both for your audience and for your brand.

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