Instagram Live is Here – And Even Gary Vee is Using it
It's time for digital marketers to get on board, writes Sherry Bonelli.
This afternoon I was waiting at the eye doctor’s office while my twin daughters were being fit with their first pair of contact lenses (a monumental moment in their young lives, I know.) However, instead of being the attentive mom that I should’ve been, I was in the quiet waiting area staring at my iPhone, trying to think of a great new blog post idea, checking emails and Slack messages from my boss when suddenly I saw Gary Vee pop up as an Instagram notification. At first, I was a little surprised.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ve been following Gary Vaynerchuk, the best-selling author of Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World and all-around digital marketing god and total personal inspiration to me for a while now — but I was still surprised to see him pop up “live” on – ummm — Instagram. (Periscope. Yes. Facebook Live. Yes. Even YouTube. Yes…But Instagram?)
Since the whole live video craze began, I’ve become quite accustomed to seeing live notifications pop up when the people I follow are streaming live, and if I have the time I’ll gladly get on to see what they have to say. Today, however, seemed different…
As I watched Gary fumble around, his smartphone going one way, pointing awkwardly at the ceiling, while his head was off-center to the side of the screen, I could tell that his voice was a little uncertain and heard him talk to his coworker about what “this button did” or “what that meant,” I could tell that something was different. I was trying not to get dizzy as he panned around his office while chatting it up with some gal who needed advice on how much information to give away for free — and people were giving him lots of hearts (i.e. love) — but it didn’t look like the polished Gary Vee I had come to know and love.
The reason why this live video experience with Gary Vee was different from the others I’ve seen was because he was trying Instagram Live out for the first time. Yup. That had to be it! He was doing something MOST of us are afraid to do — he was testing! Yup. He was one of the lucky early birds that got access to Instagram Live and he was trying it out to see what it was made of. And it was probably one of the most interesting live streams I’ve ever watched – because as he talked, moved the camera and asked questions of his audience, I could tell the wheels in his head were churning at the possibilities – and so were mine!
Now, the live stream wasn’t pretty (Sorry for the honesty, Gary), but it was real. And isn’t that what “Live” video is supposed to be? Not staged. Not stiff. Not perfect…Just real. (Thanks, Gary!)
So as I told my daughters about the Gary Vee incident, I got a mixed reaction, “Oh, Instagram is just trying to be too much like Snapchat,” one of my kiddos sniped. “Instagram is trying to do too much and pretty soon they’re not going to be good at anything,” quipped the younger of the two. (Out of the mouths of babes.) But they had very valid points. WAS Facebook trying to do too much with Instagram so that suddenly it would become a “Meh…” product (as the kids say) instead of a must-have social media channel that everyone had to have?
In its biggest update yet, we will learn a lot about how effective this new video feature on Instagram will be. As digital marketers, we know that video marketing IS an important marketing strategies these days. According to HubSpot, 45 percent of people watch more than an hour of Facebook or YouTube videos a week.
Now even though Instagram had previously announced in November that live video was coming to its app, we had yet to see what capabilities they were going to give it. From what I could tell, my oldest girl was right — the Instagram Live features were more like Snapchat than Facebook Live. Unlike Facebook where you can save videos for people to watch later, once you’re done with an Instagram Live stream it disappears. If you have post notifications on for an account, you’ll get alerts when a person you follow goes live and live videos will also show up in the “explore” section.
So Did I Have Access to Instagram Live?
The minute I got home I checked my account, and sure enough the Live button was right there — staring at me.
So I did what any real digital marketer would do – I pushed the “Start Live Video” button. I rambled on about a few things, then quickly jumped off. (Remember, this wasn’t a well-thought out plan — it was “testing.”) And it worked! After I turned my live stream off, the silly rambling video I made disappeared. (Thank God!)
Benefits and What’s to Come
If you want to show your fans and followers what you’re doing in real-time, Instagram Live is fun. It also lets users browse for Live videos that are happening at the time they search based on Instagram’s algorithm.
The Instagram Live feature lives in Instagram Stories, and you can get there by swiping into the Stories camera area and then tapping the toggle to enter “Live” video mode. These videos aren’t stored on Instagram — your followers can only see them while you’re actually broadcasting (which is perfect for us misfits who still have a lot to learn.)
The real test will be the adoption level of Instagram Live. What makes it different from Snapchat? Why would you pick one over the other? Is Facebook doing too much with regards to Instagram features and when do you know to leave well enough alone?
Over the coming weeks there will be plenty of blog posts on the pros, cons and tips of using Instagram Live. Today all I could feel was total bliss – because like me, Gary Vee was learning something for the first time (and I got to watch it!)
**Sherry Bonelli is the Local Search Evangelist at BrightLocal. She leads BrightLocal’s Research & Content programs and champions the needs of their SEO Agency and SMB customers. Having worked in digital marketing since 1998, Sherry has a Master’s Degree in Internet Marketing along with numerous digital marketing certifications. In her “spare” time she is a volunteer mentor for the SCORE East Central Iowa Chapter where she coaches small businesses on how to use digital marketing effectively. Sherry frequently gives workshops and speeches on digital marketing topics to local business owners. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.