With extra time on our hands, Instagram Live has become an outlet for all creators – no matter their reach –  to share their art, opinions, and conversations with their audience. From giants like John Legend to smaller creators with a few thousand followers, no matter your reach, Instagram Live has become an equalizer of audience access. 

This how-to guide will help all influencers who are looking to start generating live video content on Instagram. For those who are more experienced in creating live content, scroll down to the Three Tips for Success section to boost your Instagram Live game. 

Why Instagram Live?

When we attend a concert, comedy show, or play, we expect to see and feel the effort and work of the performer. We sit, stand, or dance as the artist tries to convey their message to people who are solely there to receive and enjoy it. When we open Instagram, we aren’t just there to see one person; maybe we’re checking on family and friends, catching up on drama, checking in on our favorite influencers, or just scrolling aimlessly. With Instagram Live content being pushed to the front of the Story lineup, you can capture your audience instantly, beat the algorithm, and make sure your content is seen. 

For brands and marketers, Instagram Live presents the opportunity to get immediate feedback on a product or service, expose your target market to your mission, and advance your long term influencer partnerships by building trust. For instance, through Q&As in a new product demo live video, brands could get instant context for what problems and questions may arise as the product is rolled out. From product tutorials to interviews with prominent members of your industry, Instagram Live is a great way to expand your audience and gain more exposure amongst your followers. 

The Basics: How to Start and Manage an Instagram Live

Launching an Instagram Live video starts the same way as posting a Story. When you open up Instagram:

  • Tap the camera symbol in the top left corner or swipe right to open the camera view. 
  • At the bottom of the camera view, there are many options (Normal, Boomerang, etc.). Swipe right to scroll to ‘Live’ and tap the ‘capture’ button at the bottom of the screen to start your Live video. 
  • As you accumulate viewers and they start commenting, you can contribute to the conversation in the chat by tapping ‘Comment’ and ‘Pin’ a viewer’s comment by tapping on it. 
  • Tap the share arrow at the bottom of the screen to send your Live video to specific people. Instagram will automatically notify your followers that you’ve gone live. 

Once your Live video is up and running: 

  • Tap the ellipsis (three dots) within the comment text box to Turn off Commenting or Turn Off Requests to go live if you’d like to prevent your audience from asking to join the live video with you (see Continue the Conversation section below for more tips).
  • To share photos with your audience, tap the box icon in the bottom right corner. This feature only allows you to share photos from your camera roll, not content from other Instagram users. 
  • You can stream for up to an hour before Instagram will cut off your Live video so be mindful of the time!

Continue the Conversation: How to Add a Friend to an Instagram Live Video

Some of the most compelling Instagram Live videos involve a conversation with a viewer, friend, or guest. 

  • If the feature is on (which is the default), viewers can request to be a part of your Live video and jump into the conversation. 
  • Invite a specific person who’s watching your video by tapping the two, layered faces at the bottom of the screen. Tap ‘Add’ to ask them to join your Live video. If they accept, they will appear in a split-screen view or you’ll be able to see if they decline.
  • To stop the split-screen conversation, tap the ‘X’ in the right-hand corner of their half of the split-screen.


In addition to viewers being able to jump into the conversation on screen, you can ask for their contribution through the question sticker functionality. The tool offers a streamlined way to facilitate a Q&A session between you and your viewers during a Live video.

  • Prior to launching your Live video, post a question via the question sticker to your story so that you can answer it in real-time.
  • While on your Live video, on the bottom of the screen, tap the question mark symbol next to the comment box to see what questions have been submitted. 
  • Tap a question you want to answer and it will display the question and the asker’s username on the screen. 

Make it Permanent: How to Save your Instagram Live Video to IGTV

Saving your live video content to IGTV is a great way to keep the momentum going on your main feed.

  • Wrap up your Live video by tapping “End” in the upper right corner.
  • After, a few options will pop up: share it to IGTV, save it to your camera roll, or delete the recording altogether. 
  • NOTE: If you download the recording to your camera roll and try to upload it, the comments, questions, and all other tools used in the original recording will be gone. Downloading to your camera gives you a video of just you – nothing else. 

Three Tips for Success

Define a clear purpose for your Instagram Live session.

Are you trying to promote a project or product, drive traffic, support a cause, create a stronger bond with your audience, or trying something entirely different? While none of these are mutually exclusive, it’s important to outline a clear goal, no matter how obvious or simple. If your Instagram Live video becomes muddled in an uninteresting and unexciting way, you could lose current and repeat viewers. 

Promote your session on all channels before you go live.

Since Instagram Live sessions occur on one platform, some creators forget to promote that they’re going live on more than just their Instagram Stories. Tweet, Snap, and post about it to increase the number of people viewing your Live video at the start of the session.

Repeat yourself

The nature of consuming live content involves viewers popping in and out throughout the duration of your session. Don’t be afraid to repeat your calls to action, the purpose of your live video, or any other pertinent information! 

Fake it ‘Til you Make it: Instagram Live Example Campaigns

If Instagram Live is a new concept to you or your brand, here are a couple of examples of how some brands are utilizing it:

  • J. Crew has made a habit of hosting its flash sale and freebie promotions through Instagram Live. Influencers take over the brand’s Instagram to offer sales that are only valid for the length of the live stream – gone after it ends. This creates a great sense of urgency sending some members of their audience into a shopping frenzy. 
  • Beyond Yoga had yogi influencers live stream their yoga sessions while wearing their clothing. This acted as a product demo for their product, giving viewers the opportunity to see the clothes in action and how they stand up to a full workout.   

Live video content can be a scary concept – you have to learn to let go, make mistakes, and at times, stumble your way to the end of the session. However, it has amazing benefits. Whether you’re an influencer, brand, or both, live streaming will help you diversify your content, connect with your audience on a deeper level, and have more fun sharing your products, vision, and mission with the world.