When you think about Instagram, it’s easy to dismiss it as a platform dominated by influencers and brand partnerships.
Sure, you could promote your brand and products on your channel. But unless you collaborate with an influencer or manage a global brand, how likely are you to transform Instagram into a legitimate (and reliable) lead generator?
The reality is that businesses can and should take advantage of every tool available to them. And Instagram Live Rooms, launched in March 2021, is a resource that too many brands are overlooking.
It’s a great way to reinvigorate your social media presence, and a clever way to expand your reach at basically no additional cost.
Get to know Instagram Live Rooms
Basically, Live Rooms provide a way for anyone to start a live broadcast with three other people. It’s part of an Instagram-wide effort to enable creators and help people monetize their channels by also introducing Badges and Live Shopping so people can support their favorite accounts.
Officially, this new feature provided a way for people to better connect in a post-COVID world. But it’s also provided a way for content creators and brands to spend more time cultivating their presence on Instagram.
Think of it this way: Live Rooms gives companies of any size an opportunity to start conversations with people, and to do that with more “co-hosts” than Instagram previously allowed.
You don’t need a trendy influencer or a channel takeover to engage your audience directly. You don’t need a big budget, or a revolutionary idea, or a huge following. All you really need to use Live Rooms is a few co-hosts and something to talk about.
There are many ways to benefit from Live Rooms, but a few options are especially relevant for businesses looking to engage with a live audience, whether you’re just starting on social media or looking to grow an existing channel.
Let’s look at a few suggestions for how businesses can use Instagram Live Rooms, and what sort of benefits you can expect from each option.
Host recurring events
If you ever spend time on Reddit or Twitter, you’ve probably heard of AMAs (“Ask Me Anything”) where someone fields questions from the community. It may be a film director, the VP of a global brand, a musician, or an athlete.
But regardless of their title or background, the goal is simple: encourage engagement and create a safe space to talk with the community.
A recurring event basically turns the AMA mentality into something you can rely on time and again. You can use it as a live tutorial session, an open Q&A session, or even just a roundtable where different employees share what they’re working on.
And the goal is simple: focus on creating that same kind of safe space where people can look forward to getting an inside look at your business and learning why they should be excited about your products or services.
Humanize company accounts
It’s easy to see a branded social media page as a place to voice complaints or ask for product support. And from the other side of the mirror, it’s easy to treat an Instagram account as another marketing platform to push special sales, announce new products, etc.
Social media has become a cultural juggernaut because it builds connections and creates community. And what better way to utilize it than to build a connection between your audience and the names, faces, and personalities that make up your company?
Using roundtables or webinars is a painless way to humanize a company. You can feature user-generated content, or give away products at preset times almost like a live radio show would. You can provide tutorials and walkthroughs to educate customers.
Basically, you can leverage Instagram Live Rooms as a way to transform your channel into a fun and interactive community run by human beings and not just corporate advertisers.
Highlight brand partnerships
Partnerships and collaborations have become an essential way to grow a brand on social media, with some brands considering it a more valuable strategy than paid search.
The big question becomes how to highlight those partnerships (or even just introduce them) outside of a traditional press release or defaulting to in-your-face product placement.
Instagram Live Rooms gives you an obvious way to do that. Pull in a partner to talk about the relationship — it also provides an opportunity for them to let their audience know too.
It’s like a better, more interactive alternative to an Instagram takeover. You get to be part of the conversation, but also give partners or collaborators an opportunity to take center stage.
Help improve fundraising
Fundraising is sort of an awkward practice. We’ve all heard promotions for radio or podcaster fundraisers (or had local students knock on our front door) and cringed a little. But if done well, fundraising can be a valuable approach for many businesses.
So, where does Instagram Live Rooms come in? Well, it can actually provide a good middle ground, allowing companies to run a fundraising event like a radio station while drawing out audiences to pay attention—instead of forcing them.
And when you combine Live Rooms with the Affiliate Marketplace, you can directly monetize items included in the discussion.
Now, combine this idea with brand partnerships.
A joint fundraiser can help you entice partners to collaborate since you’ll be able to direct your combined audience to product pages thanks to the Live Shopping feature on Instagram.
Get the most out of your Instagram channel
At face value, it’s easy to see why Instagram Live Rooms are worth exploring. They’re free to host, but can be monetized; that means however you implement them will (almost inherently) deliver a great ROI for any web traffic or lead acquisition you receive.
An even more encouraging benefit is the production cost, which is basically nothing. We tend to think of video production as something with a prohibitive cost in terms of equipment and talent — that’s why outsourcing is such a valuable pathway to get great video content.
But people don’t always expect big-budget social media videos. In fact, occasionally posting more personal and candid content can get you great results on Instagram and other social channels. So why not make the most of it with products like Live Rooms?
It’s also easy to promote Live Rooms’ content. Instagram allows you to notify your followers, so whether you are planning events in advance or get struck by sudden inspiration, you’ll be able to pull in an audience.
Whether you’re live for 40 minutes to cover a specific topic or you host a panel for the full 4-hour limit, the important thing is to plan your talking points. Your goal is to keep viewers engaged, and the best way to do that is to give them a steady stream of content they’ll love…or at least be interested in.
This post was written by Drew Gula. He is the copywriter at Soundstripe—a company that helps businesses understand how to add music to a video by providing resources like royalty-free music.