Lives are having a real moment on Instagram, a trend that came into its own during the first lockdown of 2020; we craved connection and conversations (some of us anyway) and Lives were a great way to get that. 

I totally get the appeal, all the benefits of video content with none of the editing effort and the ability to be that authentic you that your audience are really looking for too. 

A winning situation right?!

The benefits of going Live on Instagram.

I had a 1-2-1 session with a small business owner in January and the subject of going Live on Instagram came up; the business is closed at the moment due to Lockdown restrictions and we were working on content ideas and the content plan. This business owner is keen to keep up their social media and community even whilst the business is shut, and ‘collaborations’ and ‘community support’ were key phrases that just kept coming up. 

At first, the idea of going Live was just not an option. Many of us are dead against it and the thought of seeing yourself or hearing your voice on video is just a total no

But hear me out on this one; firstly there is a kind of responsibility you have as the business owner. As in doing everything in your power to make your business successful is really up to you, you can outsource a load of tasks for sure but as the business owner and the one who does the core work of the business, being seen is pretty important. 

A core benefit of going Live on Instagram is that the Live can be saved as an IGTV and be seen time and time again on the grid and via the IGTV tab. So a Live becomes long-form video content and we all know how important that is on social media! 

Live content also ticks 3 out of the 4 content pillar boxes I like to work with when creating a content plan; value, community and brand are all represented in a Live session, particularly a Live with someone else. 

Lastly, like I said at the start, Lives on social media is a predicted growth trend for 2021 and that never-dying buzzword authenticity is a big part of that. Lives are real, unfiltered, raw and totally you. The very definition of the authenticity we crave to create and our audience crave to consume.

Suz Bird, Social Media Strategist, Bird and Emmy

Make a plan to go Live on Instagram.

Back to the business owner and that 1-2-1 session! After we spoke about going Live and collaborations, I set a homework task before the wrap-up session and this was to make a list of anyone and everyone who the business owner is currently chatting too on Instagram that falls into any of the content pillar categories (brand, community, value and sell).  

That list had over 12 people on it! Quick maths will tell you that even 1 Live a week is 12 weeks (or 3 months if that sounds bigger) worth of Lives. That makes me pretty excited from a content planning point of view, as each of those Lives comes with an “announcement post” and then the chance to repurpose the content with a nice quote or a “key takeaways” follow-up post.

So even quicker maths, tells me that that is 3 posts (including the Live) from one content idea.

Cool, cool right?! 

But how are you going to make that happen? Literally as simple as just asking someone the question.

Top tips for going Live on Instagram.

Fast forward to this week and that business owner is running their first Live on Instagram (*high fives* all round as soon as we can touch like that again)! I said I would share some top tips for the session to help eradicate the nerves and this is what I recommend:

Make a plan.

Write as little or as much as you need to pull this off, but at the very least have write down these prompts:

  • Introduction – introduce your guest and talk about how this session came about (where you met and what you will be talking about, etc)
  • The main bit – ask your first question and let your guest talk, remember this is a chat, a discussion… you are allowed to go off piece if that feels natural during the conversation.
  • The other main bit – write down the main focus of the Live session to make sure you can bring it back to topic if you need to. 
  • The goodbyes – where can people get in touch with questions (DMs?) or where can they get hold of your guest?

Don’t be afraid to say this is your first time or that you are nervous. 

It is a Live session; you are allowed to take a sip of water, have a wee cough or sneeze if you need to! You are also allowed to say out loud “damn this is a little scary, but we’ll give it our best shot ok?”

Prepare your IGTV cover image before the session.

Once you end the Live you will be asked via the Instagram app if you want to save the Live to an IGTV, the answer is yes! Then you will get to the usual IGTV upload screen and you can write a caption, add some hashtags and choose a cover image (hence needing the image prepped beforehand). Remember your image dimensions too, I’d recommend the square 1:1 ratio for your cover image. 

Prep your work station before the session. 

Tell your family or anyone you live with that you are going Live and not to disturb you. Get yourself something to drink, tissues (not for the tears!) and have a notebook and pen to hand too. 

Charge your phone and use a tripod.

Make sure your phone is charged and make sure your power supply is nearby, just in case. If you have a tripod, I suggest you use that during the session or if you don’t, use a stack of books or the trick of using an elastic band and “tying” your phone to a tin can.

Decide how you will handle comments or questions during the session. 

When you are Live you will see people joining the session and some may ask questions or say hi via comments. You can decide if you want to acknowledge these during the session, have a dedicated Q&A session towards the end or if you would prefer not to deal with that during the session. If you decide not to deal with them Live, you can say that at the start and tell your audience how to get in touch in another way. 

You can also turn off commenting during a Live once the session has started, look for the 3 dots next to the comments box once Live. 

P.S questions and comments from your audience who are watching do not save from the Live to the IGTV. 

Consider a super short test Live. 

Pick a late night time or early morning and press “Live” give it a minute or 2 so you can see what will happen and what to expect and then end it. Do not save it to IGTV and choose to delete it immediately. I promise there will be no harm done, but you will feel better knowing what you will “see” when going Live for the first time. 

That will also give you the chance to look around at the different features and see what to push to “invite your guest” too. 

Go Live for at the very least 5-8 minutes!

 Longer is obviously better and easier to do and for a collaboration session, I’d expect to see that go on for a good 15+ (I am being coy, think more 25+ minutes). 

Expect it not to be perfect and get ok with that. 

It is a Live, there will be stutters and stumbles and a bit of staring intently at the screen whilst you look for the right button, that is all ok and very very standard Live practice. 

Let’s go Live! 

Nothing left to do but to just go Live.

The theory is that by preparing as much as possible to go Live on Instagram, you take away some of the unknowns which make the process a little easier. 

Suz Bird, Social Media Strategist, Bird and Emmy

Trust me, it gets easier, you get better and it will be ok. 

If you are still feeling a little stuck for those Live content ideas or working Lives into your social media content plan, consider booking a 1-2-1 session with me

See you on Instagram, big love! #BirdandEmmy