What Is Instagram Live? How to Use Instagram Live, With Tips

Written by
Ashley Hamer
min read

Whether you’re selling a product, advertising for an event, or simply looking to engage with your audience, Instagram Live is an effective way to attract and connect with viewers. Users “go live” for various reasons — offering an inside look at their lives, sharing behind-the-scenes content from live podcast recordings or video shoots, doing product demonstrations, and spontaneously interacting with followers. Below we’ll run down more about Instagram Live and how to use the tool to connect with your audience and build your brand.

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What is Instagram Live?

Instagram Live is a video option within the Instagram app that provides real-time broadcasting capabilities. It’s one of the many video features Instagram offers users, along with Instagram Stories and regular video feed posts. While formats like Instagram Reels and carousels allow you to easily post pre-recorded content, Instagram Live is, well, live. You can instantly appear on screen for a public or private audience.

What are the benefits of live video?

Instagram is the fourth most popular social media platform in the world behind Facebook, YouTube, and WhatsApp, who as of 2022 fill the top three spots in that order. With over one billion monthly active users, Instagram — and Instagram Live — can captivate your audience and attract new eyes from all over the globe with the tap of a button. Here are some of the benefits to streaming live video content.

  1. It can be more personal. Going live in real time is one way content creators and brands can show their more human side, reminding those tuning in that there’s a real person (or team of people) behind the account. Because creators don’t have the ability to edit a live video before people see it, these posts often feel more authentic, fostering a sense of trust between creators and their audiences.
  2. It engages your target audience. With live video, you can engage with feedback or answer questions in real time, creating a more direct line of communication between social media users and your brand. And live video gives you a chance to share new things with those already interested in your mission, products, or services, which can help build brand loyalty among your followers.
  3. It provides insights. Hopping on an Instagram Live can give you a more direct look into who your followers are and what they want. During a live stream, you might notice that more people outside your target demographic are interested in your brand. That could open up a whole new avenue of marketing possibilities or content strategies you’d never considered.
  4. It’s inexpensive. Live video is a cost-effective way to promote your products or build a brand. The most basic tools you need for a successful live stream are a smartphone and a steady internet connection. While good lighting and sound quality also affect video streaming, you can save on expensive gear (in some cases) by broadcasting in natural light or a quiet room.

Step-by-step guide to using Instagram Live

Streaming on Instagram Live is an easy, straightforward process that gives creators the chance to get real with their audience. But going live takes some practice and more than a little confidence, so here we answer a few FAQs to get you started.

  1. How do you start live streaming? To start a live broadcast, open the Instagram app and tap to the “+” icon at the top right of the screen (which will appear on either your feed or profile page). Select “Live” from the dropdown list that appears. If you first choose another option like “Story” or “Reel” but decide you want to go live, simply look to the bottom of the screen and tap over to the right to select “Live.”
  2. How do you start a live video with another person? After you’ve begun your broadcast, look at the icons toward the bottom of the screen. The first one you tap will bring up requests to join your live stream. Next to it, the “person” icon with a right-pointing arrow will let you start a live room with up to three additional participants.
  3. How do you watch an Instagram Live video? When someone starts live broadcasting on Instagram, you may get a notification or alert that the video has started (depending on your personal settings). Their profile icon will also indicate a video is currently live.
  4. How do you edit your live video? On the right of the screen, you’ll see a few symbols that let you add stickers, captions, backgrounds, and face filters to your video as you stream. There is also an option in the side toolbar to turn off video or audio while still maintaining your feed connection, or flip the viewing mode. At the bottom of the screen, the question mark inside a message bubble icon will let you view audience questions and display them on screen, making it a streamlined feature for interviews or Q&A sessions.
  5. How do you check the number of viewers? On the top left of the screen, where your Instagram handle name is, tap the down arrow to see a list of specific people currently watching your stream.
  6. How do you turn off commenting? At any point during your live broadcast, you can turn off the comment function to prevent viewers from interacting with your video. Tap the three dots next to where it says “Comment,” then select turn it off. This menu will also let you add a moderator to the stream, turn off requests to go live, and turn off questions.  
  7. How do you save and share your live video? Live videos are shared as soon as the broadcast begins. Once the video ends, it will disappear from public view on your page. However, if you have the setting enabled, the video will automatically save to your archive folder, where you may save a copy of the stream by selecting “Download video.” Once you download your Instagram Live stream, you can save it to your camera roll or upload it to another platform like YouTube to share with more viewers.

4 tips for getting the most out of Instagram Live

Here are some more FAQs about how to optimize your Instagram Live experience.

  1. What are some important IG live settings to consider before starting your broadcast? On the Instagram Live screen, tap the top-right gear icon to bring up your settings. Here, you can select anyone you want to hide your live video broadcast from, or choose to automatically save your video to your archive for 30 days.
  2. What are some things video creators can prepare before going live? Is it better to have a script? While you don’t need a tightly written script in place, you should have an idea of what you’re going to say before you say it. This will not only reduce the risk that you’ll say something you don’t mean, but also help cut down on awkward pauses and stumbled speech.
  3. What is the difference between a regular IG Live and an IG Live Room? With an Instagram Live, you appear on your own before all of your followers. With a Live Room, you can invite up to three more accounts to join you on a stream for all of your followers to see together.
  4. Are there any benefits to using IG Live over regular video? While regular video posts give you more time and control to edit your videos, live video offers the perks of higher engagement. With live video, you can connect with your audience in real time, where you can engage with viewer concerns, answer product questions, or simply get to know your demographic better.
Written by
Written by
Ashley Hamer

Managing Editor at Descript. Musician, podcaster, writer, science nerd.

Descript is a collaborative audio/video editor that works like a doc. It includes transcription, a screen recorder, publishing, and some mind-bendingly useful AI tools.
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Ashley Hamer

Managing Editor at Descript. Musician, podcaster, writer, science nerd.

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