Instagram Live – why you should be using it & three content ideas to try
Do you make use of Instagram Live to grow your audience and sell your products? If not, is it because you find the idea of turning the camera on yourself pretty darn scary? Craft business coach Sara Millis wants to help you overcome that fear, and help you launch your very first Instagram Live video in a way that feels natural and non-‘salesy’. In this article, Sara is going to share tips on how to overcome your nerves, connect with your audience and make the most of Instagram Live’s potential. What’s more, she’s also going to give you three great content ideas to get you started! Over to Sara…
Why use Instagram Live?
Hi, my name is Sara and I’m a maker turned craft business coach at My Indie Life Blog. I’ve been using Instagram for years and have found it a great tool for growing my audience, making new connections and bringing in sales.
The growth and wonderful appeal of Instagram Stories
If you scroll through Instagram, I bet you’ll find several gorgeous maker accounts you already follow who are using this social media platform to drive traffic to their online shops. You might not feel like an accomplished photographer by comparison, but you can drive traffic from your Instagram account to your Folksy shop just as easily, and one of the best ways is to make use of Instagram Stories and Instagram Live.
Since its launch in 2010, Instagram has become a force to be reckoned with, even prompting Facebook to buy the platform in 2012. Now in 2020, Instagram boasts 1 billion users monthly, with 500 million users using Stories daily. In fact, as a platform, Instagram had better growth on new user accounts than Facebook in early 2019, so it’s definitely a platform to be using.
Back in 2016 Instagram launched ‘Stories’: temporary pictures and videos that disappear after 24 hours. Stories quickly became a way for users to move away from the heavy-curated, rose-tinted view of life that had become the norm for many accounts, and into a more authentic way to connect with followers. Stories became the fun and chatty side that had been missing from Instagram.
Later that year Instagram released Instagram Live: a way to stream live video for up to 60 minutes to your followers. As more and more users have found, Instagram Live can be a great tool to chat to your audience, really connect with them, and reinforce the relationship between you and your customers. So, if you aren’t already using the live feature, I recommend you start!
How to start your first Instagram Live
It’s very simple to get going with Instagram Live. All you need to do is:
- Open Instagram & tap the icon that looks like a house on the bottom row to take you to your Home screen
- Tap the camera icon in the top left
- Scroll along the menu at the bottom of the screen and you’ll find ‘Live’ as the very first option.
- Tap the ‘Live’ button on your screen
- At this point Instagram will notify a selection of your followers that you are live streaming and they may choose to hop on to say hello. You’ll be able to see the number viewing your live video at the top of your screen.
- You’ll see any incoming comments at bottom of your screen, as well as hearts and likes.
- To end the live session, press ‘end’ at the top right of your screen. If you’d like to save your video, you can then press the download icon in the top left of your screen.
Instagram offer more set-up option instructions on their help pages.
How to take the fear out of Instagram Live
Just like you, the idea of hosting a live video made me feel nauseous the first time – and this comes from someone who was used to creating videos on YouTube! Live streaming terrified me. What would I say, what would they think, what sort of comments might I get? What if they don’t like me? Yep. Terrified.
Here’s what changed my mind: I knew video was one of the best ways to connect with potential customers. Four years hosting a video podcast on YouTube had proved the power of video and also meant that by this point I wasn’t shy about being in front of the camera, but I was terrified of what I felt I couldn’t control: how many people showed up and watched, how many would comment and what comments they’d leave. Ultimately, I worried about my perceived success at hosting a live video. I also knew I couldn’t edit out mistakes, so I felt like I had to be first-shot perfect, which, let’s face it, is unrealistic!
I thought about my first experience with podcasting and I remember feeling very much the same… nauseous, unsure of myself and extremely uncomfortable in front of the camera. But I did it anyway and it all worked out. In fact, I can directly correlate sales coming from videos I posted online.
The truth is, you just need to get that first session out of the way. It will work out for you.
How to prepare for your first Instagram Live
If you’re feeling frightened about hosting a live video, these are the tricks I teach my craft business clients:
- First, decide what you’re going to talk about (read to the end and I’ll give you three ideas). Create some bullet points to help you keep on track as you talk – it’s totally fine to refer to your notes when you’re live streaming.
- Avoid making any big announcements about when you’re first live session will be, as that puts you under pressure. Instead, find a time of day when you’re relaxed, undisturbed and have good light.
- Just start… don’t worry about no-one showing up, that’s not the point of this first stream. Your first live broadcast is about becoming familiar with the software and finding your comfort zone in front of the camera.
- Don’t make this first episode an epic length – go for five or 10 minutes, tops. It’s also good to remember that you aren’t bound by the time frame you’ve given yourself, so if you run short or run over, that’s ok!
- Finally, don’t worry about tripping over words, making mistakes or even losing your train of thought as you get a buzz when you see someone is now watching you. Instead, pause and start going again, referring to your notes if you need them.
I promise you, you’ll be great.
Three easy and effective ideas for your first Instagram Live
If you are stuck for ideas to talk about in your first Instagram Live, try one of these topics:
The show and tell – Most people are following you because they want to know more about what you make. So choose one product and talk about the idea behind it, how your made it or how to use it.
Let’s say you make ceramic vases. Pick one to show off. If you have a tripod for your phone, set up the phone to film you filling the vase with a beautiful spring bouquet and talking about where your inspiration for the design came from, or where you use the vase in your home.
News about a new product or event – Followers like to feel like part of your inner circle, particularly in your Instagram stories, so share some of your latest news. Maybe you’ve just got into a new craft fair? Tell them all about it, why you’re excited, when it’s on and what you’ll have on your stand.
You could also talk about a new product you’ve just finished creating or that you’re developing. For example, if you’re a soap maker and you’ve got a new soap coming out that’s specifically designed for sensitive skin, tell your followers the idea behind it, what’s in it and how it will help their skin.
Teach your followers something – Your followers are probably really keen to learn from you, whether that’s how you make your work, an insight into your craft, an interesting fact about your business or how to wear one of your pieces.
TIP: Remember in each of these videos to prompt your audience to visit your Folksy shop by clicking the link in your Instagram bio (you’ve got that set up, right? If not, read this article to find out how >). You don’t need to say it any more than once or twice and you could do it in a way that encourages them just to look at what you do.
All three of these ideas add value to your online presence and give your potential customers a reason to keep showing up and connecting with you. You’ll soon start to see greater engagement, and find that taking a little time out of your day to share your message on a regular basis increases your Folksy shop traffic and starts to boost your opportunity to sell.
Good luck and see you on Instagram Live soon!