• How to Use Instagram Live for Your Business

How to Use Instagram Live for Your Business

Effective marketing places a lot of emphasis on the here and now, and social media is leveling the playing field. Small businesses can now incorporate location-based and real time efforts into their marketing plans, strengthening their online and offline presence. One such feature, Instagram Live Stories, now offers a real time feature that differentiates itself from other social media channels and live streaming apps. In this post we’ll go over what Live Stories are, how to broadcast to your Instagram Live feed, and how you can use this feature for your business’s benefit.

How to Use Instagram Live for Your Business

What is the Instagram Live Feed?

The Instagram Live feed is more commonly known as Instagram Live Stories. With this feature, users broadcast live video, which gets shared through their Instagram Story. You may already be using Instagram Stories for your business, but it’s important to note that Your Live Story is slightly different. Live Stories get broadcast through your Story, but once the video is over, both the video and any comments associated with it will disappear (poof!).

What Makes Live Stories Different?

Instagram Live Stories is different from Facebook Live in that while your Facebook Live video publishes to your Facebook business page, your Instagram Live Story disappears. Instagram Live Stories is also different from regular Instagram Stories, because the photo and video in your regular Instagram Story stays public for 24 hours before disappearing.

Related: 2017 Marketing Must Do’s

How to Go Live on Instagram

To go live on your Stories feed, go to your Instagram home screen and swipe right or tap the camera icon in the upper left. This opens your camera and offers three options at the bottom: Normal, Live, or Boomerang. Tap “Live” then tap “Start Live Video” Your Live Story can be up to one hour long, but keep in mind that the Live Story disappears after it’s over.

What Happens When You Go Live

Your live stream gets accessed through your Instagram Story, but when you are finished, the Story will return to the photos and videos that are currently in it. When you start a Live Story, the word “Live” will appear under your profile in the Stories bar, so that your followers can see that you’re live. Instagram will also notify some of your followers that you are live (unless they turn off live notifications). If you have different preferences, you can adjust your settings to control who knows when you are live and who can view your Live Stories.

While you are recording to your Instagram Live feed,  you can see how many people are viewing, and both you and your viewers can comment and like. You can also disable comments by tapping on the three dots at the bottom right. When the Live Story is over, the video and all commentary associated with it gets deleted.

How to Find Live Stories

As mentioned above, your Live Story deletes as soon as it ends, so users can only find your Live Story while it’s happening. Your followers can see that you’re live because it will say so in the Story bar on the top of their feed. To find other users’ Live Stories or profile avatar, go to “Explore” and tap “Top Live”. This is a list of current Live Stories happening at the moment, chosen by Instagram’s algorithm based on factors like view count, geography, and language. You can swipe left and right to skip around, much like flipping channels when watching TV.

Benefits of Instagram Live Stories

Instagram Live offers many of the same benefits as Instagram Stories and other real-time marketing activities, but with a few additional perks, such as:


Live Stories is a way take real-time marketing and transparency to the next level. Connecting with your target audience in the moment shows customers that you have nothing to hide and humanizes your business.


People tend to get nervous when they broadcast live. However, since your Live Story disappears as soon as it’s done, you might experience less of those jitters. Instagram Live Stories can help you to feel more comfortable posting on social media, knowing that if you things don’t go as you planned, it won’t be out online forever.


Live Stories are fleeting, but the built-in notification feature of the app can boost attendance. As mentioned above, Instagram automatically notifies your followers when you go live (as long as they have notifications enabled). While you should build excitement around live broadcasts and promote them beforehand, this feature can supplement your efforts.

Also, because followers know that your Live Story cannot be accessed once it’s over, they may be more inclined to watch. This creates a sense of urgency and is especially true if you make it known beforehand that you will be revealing a discount code, sales promotion, or another special offer.


At first, you might not see Instagram Live Stories as a channel for interaction with your target audience, since you’re just talking to them. However, if you enable comments, those viewing can comment while you’re broadcasting, and you can comment back immediately—adding an engaging element to this marketing activity.


The features of Live Stories enable you to maximize the quality of your broadcast. For example, you can see how many people are joining the stream as well as how many people are dropping out. This can help you to gauge how interesting or engaging your Live Story is, and modify it accordingly. Also, since viewers can ask questions and make comments, you can get direct feedback on your Live Story.

Ways to Use Live Stories

Instagram Live Stories are a way to bring the offline online, while also taking advantage of two effective marketing techniques: urgency and engagement. There are many ways to use Live Stories for your business. Below are a few examples:

  • Announce an Instagram contest or giveaway winner.
  • Inform followers of a new product or service, or give them exclusive early access.
  • Go behind the scenes at your office.
  • Do a live Q&A with your audience.
  • Create a live newsletter. Knowing that they can’t go back and get the news later, your followers will be more inclined to tune in.
  • Broadcast your service live. Fitness instructors or gym owners can broadcast live workouts. Salons can broadcast their haircuts. This gives your target audience a true taste of what it’s like to be a customer. No scripts, edits, or special effects. It’s like a free demo!

Have you been using Instagram Live in your marketing? Share in the comments section below!

Kristen McCormick
Kristen McCormick
Kristen is the Content Marketing Manager for ThriveHive, where she geeks out daily over SEO, organic traffic, and A/B testing. When she's not equipping business owners and marketers to get their name out there through effective content, she's out pedaling the streets of Boston on her beloved bike.

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