18 Must-Know Tips To Nail Your First (Or Next) Instagram Live

Instagram live is Instagram Stories more confident, extrovert sister.

It allows users to engage with their audience in real time. And since its inception, it has seen an insane amount of growth and popularity. Brands are now seen chanting ‘SnapChat? What’s SnapChat? Instagram Story and Live is where it’s at’.

Just kidding.

But, Instagram Live has definitely taken over the digital world and more and more brands are embracing this feature to further connect with their audience. After all, real time marketing has become everyone’s favorite since the past couple of years, as it reports a 26% increase in conversion rates.

And your audience loves live streaming, as well. According to Tubular Insights, people spent eight times longer watching live videos than on-demand.

So instead of thinking ‘should I even do a live session on instagram?’, think and work on ‘How soon can I do one?’.

If this is your first time doing a live session, or your last time bombed and you want to do a better session this time around, read on. We’ve outlined 18 tips to help you ace your Instagram Live session, get maximum viewers and engagement, and eliminate all technical issues that may arise.

Interested in performing live like a pro? Read on.

1. Control your viewers

If you’d like to conduct a live session for a limited number of people (maybe you’re doing a special session for some of your loyal followers, or you’re simply not comfortable with your competitors watching you live), you can easily limit who sees your video.

You can also hide your story from trolls spamming your comments section, while you’re live.

2. Go live when everyone’s up

Real time marketing works best when your audience is up and active on social media. There's no point conducting a fully prepared, top-notch live session when majority’s asleep.

The best time to conduct live sessions differ from brand to brand, industry to industry, and audience to audience. So you need to track your audience’s peak times. Here’s how.

If your audience is mostly locals, you can simply come live during your most active time zone. Similarly, if you’re targeting people in North America, conduct your live session during their active time (even if it’s 4 am where you’re at). This is a great way to start your trial and error process for audience peak times and figure out the best of the very best times to conduct a live session.

Ask followers through an IG stories post when they’d like you to come live. Simple and works wonders.

Or simply ask Instagram. Go to your Insights page and search for your audience data. There you’ll see which days of the week and at what time your audience is most active.

3. Take advantage of Instagram’s ‘Add guest’ feature

Instagram allows you to add guests to your live session, which is a great way for you to get some extra eyeballs and hearts. Collaborate with different brands, ask a lucky viewer to jump in with you, invite influencers and industry experts to share the live instagram stage with you, or simply ask work colleagues to join you.

4. Pin the most important comment on top

Instagram allows you to pin one comment on the top of your live session, so it’s constantly available to all your viewers. Make sure to use this feature strategically. You can,

  • Pin the title of your live session,

  • Pin a gushing review,

  • Pin a CTA, an action you’d like your viewers to take after viewing your session,

  • Pin your website, or other social media handles (when the session’s about to end, otherwise people will click on those links midway and leave your live video).

5. Moderate comments

The worst thing about live sessions? Horrible, nasty comments. You want to create a secure and positive space for your viewers and yourself while you’re doing a live video, and reading spammy comments by trolls can shake anyone.

So make sure you moderate comments by,

  • Turning off comments altogether (not recommended, because the whole point of live streaming is to engage with your viewers in real time),

  • Or, going to your profile, clicking comments, and then playing with the three options available.

  • Block Comments from: If you know certain followers of your always write hate comments, you can add their names to this list and they won't be able to comment.

  • Hide Offensive comments: Filter out hate comments or spam.

  • Enable Keyword Filters: Where you chose offensive words that you don’t want used during your live video

6. Figure out your ‘why’ before starting

Why do you want to start doing Instagram Live sessions? I know that they increase engagement, etc, but what’s YOUR goal? What do you want to achieve through these sessions? Figure this out before embarking on this journey.

A lot of people and brands use the Live story feature for different marketing goals. Some of them include:

  • Building a strong relationship with audience. Showing them bits from everyday life which you can’t show through your posts.

  • Giving a sneak peek to a new product or service. 87% Instagram users would prefer to watch online if it meant more behind-the-scenes content.

  • Using the urgency (FOMO) element of live stories to sell products. Tim Coppins used an Instagram Live session for remote viewing of their menswear collections. It was the only viewing they offered, so their audience had a lot of incentive to join in this live session. Mulberry and other brands also use this feature for live streaming of their shows.

  • Conducting influencer sessions, or sessions with other brands to increase audience.

  • Ask for feedback.

  • Questions and answers.

And so on. It’s a very versatile feature and you can use it for pretty much all your marketing goals. You can sell, increase engagement, increase followers, get subscribers, etc. through Live stories.

“I think there are a lot of different cool ways for people to use [Instagram] Live, it’s just going to be what fits for your brand voice, what works for your brand voice, what will your followers be entertained by and what would they want to see most.” – Eva Chen, Instagram’s Head of Fashion Partnerships

Each live session can serve a different marketing goal, as well, so keep that in mind.

7. Record a test video for video and audio testing

You conducted an hour long, super-helpful, super fun live session, only to find out that nobody could hear your voice. Or, even worse, you’re in the middle of the session and people start commenting ‘we can’t see\hear you’, and you scramble to see if your camera’s positioned correctly and if your microphone wire is hooked properly. Chaos ensues.

It’s probably one of the worst things that can happen to you while live streaming.

So make sure you record a test video before starting; make sure your internet’s strong and steady, your microphone works great, etc.

8. Promote, promote, PROMOTE

Don’t come live on Instagram without prior promotion, even if it’s on-the-spur-of-the-moment kinda session. Promote it beforehand on all your social media platforms, email subscribers, post on IG story 10 minutes before starting, build some buzz around it, and then come live.

Since live videos are conducted in real time, you want maximum people viewing it and engaging with you.

9. Encourage viewers to engage with you

What the difference between a live session and a pre-recorded video upload? Real time engagement.

You need to encourage viewers to comment in your live sessions by asking pointed questions (even if it’s something as simple as ‘do you like this live session’, or ‘what do you think?’). Ask simple questions. Give shoutouts to people who engage the most. Use your viewers names while answering their questions.

You can either answer them on the spot or leave the last 10 minutes of your session for answering everyone’s questions. Alternatively, you can ask viewers to DM you for specific questions if it gets too chaotic in the comments section.

Furthermore, you can take this discussion to your feed, upload a post related to your live session and ask people to comment on your feed post.

10. Don’t forget to save your live video

Pretty self-explanatory. Save your live video. You can use this video and atomize it into different types of content. For example, transcribe it, clean it up and turn it into a blog post. Or post it again several months from now as a throwback video. You can also pin it to your story highlights if you feel that your followers would benefit from it.

Don't let your session go to waste by not saving it.

11. Track metrics

How do you improve your sessions and make sure all your goals are being met? By tracking video metrics.

You can track all the people that logged in and how much engagement your live session received. Take a screenshot and save it.

12. Foresee and eliminate as many distractions as possible

You don’t want this to happen.

But even if it does happen, don’t lose your cool. It’s a live video, and accidents can sometimes add a touch of authenticity and humanness to an otherwise dull video.

13. Make sure your lightning’s spot on

Good lightning equals a good visual experience. Even if your content is out-of-this-world amazing and full of useful information, if viewers can’t see you properly, they’ll probably leave. 67% of viewers say quality is the most important factor when watching a livestream.

So make sure you have ample lighting available where you’re shooting.

Using natural lighting is flattering, but if you shoot in the afternoons or evenings, it can get dark quite fast and ruin your live video. So keep that in mind. You can also have a proper lighting setup, as well.

14. Create a post-live post

Once you’re done with your live session, create an Instagram post and upload it on Stories or your feed thanking everyone who logged in. You can also add your call-to-action to the post, so everyone who missed the session can also click on it.

15. Add incentives in the end so your audience sticks around

You don’t want people to get bored and disappear mid way, right? So give them an incentive to watch till the end. Announce giveaways, special reveals, deals, etc. at the end of the session to encourage maximum people to stay till the very end.

Also, make sure to engage with them throughout. If you feel people are getting bored or you’re losing viewers rapidly, address it.

16. Do give brief recaps for new viewers while live sessions.

Not everyone will join in from the beginning. A lot of your viewers might come in late and you don’t want them to get confused at what’s happening in the live session and leave. So repeat your title and give a brief recap of what you’re discussing every now and then (especially when you see a huge surge in viewers).

But only once in 10 or 15 minutes so that your viewers don’t get bored with constant disturbances.

17. Relax and be yourself

Live sessions are supposed to be super informal and personal, so relax and have fun with your people.

Prepare an outline beforehand, but don’t read from it or look at it too much. Having a teleprompter can be a huge life-saver if you tend to forget lines under pressure.

It’s okay if you make mistakes. It’s okay if you forget your train of thought. It’s okay if you tell your partner to shut the door because you’re in the midst of a live session. It’s okay if your cat comes in and annoys you. All these things make you more human and helps build a rapport with your audience.

Keep a paper handy with all the important things you need to address, and then get right into it with gusto.

18. Get audience feedback before and after your sessions

It’s a great idea to directly ask followers what they thought of your live session and what they’d like to see in future. You can either post it on your Instagram feed (if you get raving reviews in the comments sections, others who missed out would be eager to watch your future live sessions, as well), or you can simply conduct a poll on your Stories.

Based on this feedback, you can improve your future sessions and ensure people get maximum value from them.

It’s a good idea to also get follower feedback before doing your live session. You can ask them,

  • What time suits them best?

  • What do they want you to discuss in this session?

  • What kind of live sessions they’d like to see from your brand?

  • Whether they’re even interested in a live session, or not?

This will help you nail your live session and minimise errors.

Finally, it’s okay if you fail (the first few times)

Failing and learning is all part of life and digital marketing. Don’t expect your first live session to get a ton of viewers and engagement. You probably won’t. But keep doing these sessions consistently and you’ll eventually start to see great results.