Instagram Live: Avoid These 3 Pitfalls to Ensure Success

TechnologyApr 21, 2020

Instagram Live: Avoid These 3 Pitfalls to Ensure Success

In a special guest column, Duvall O’Steen and Jen Cullen Williams talk timing, content and brand visibility on the platform.

Duvall O’Steen, left, and Jen Cullen Williams are independent communications strategists and senior consultants for the Luxury Brand Group. They can be reached at or
Instagram Live is rapidly gaining ground.

Online publication Business of Fashion recently noted the many fashion houses and celebrities who are going “Live” on Instagram to keep the conversations flowing with their fans.

Everyone from amateurs to professionals can easily use this tool to keep connected.

If you plan to use Instagram Live to build brand awareness and grow your engagement with your followers, be sure to avoid making these three pitfalls.

1. Bad Timing
—Be considerate of your timing. Instagram Insights can help you figure out which day of the week will be ideal to get the most engagement from your particular followers.

Quick online searches can also provide valuable data about the timing of posts, as social media gurus at Hootsuite, Hubspot, Sproutsocial and Agorapulse, as well as media outlets like Mashable and TechCrunch, often publish articles with recent research confirming the latest information on the best timing for Instagram activity.

—Be sure to plan for time-zone differences. If you plan ongoing or recurring segments, set a time and stick with it, so that people know when to tune in. Once you develop the schedule, promote it with Stories and mentions in posts.

—“Announce your live one day before on [Instagram] Stories and post a Q+A with a specific topic,” says Persephone Maglaya, founder of digital marketing agency The Media Socialites. “Keep the discussion focused … this helps you control the subject and the content. Then, an hour beforehand, announce again you are about to go live and invite your audience to join. Right now, use the ‘stay home’ widget on every single story as it’s getting extra views!”

—If in doubt regarding timing, use the Story feature to ask your followers ahead of time when is best for them.

2. The Wrong Content
—Avoid lengthy content on Instagram Live. For more detailed and lengthy posts, consider breaking it up into serial IG Live segments.

—Short-form content is key, as shorter sessions get better results. Avoid lengthy introductions. Get to the point right away and keep the session flowing.

—Be sure to include the “wow” factor up front to capture attention. Your audience will fade away quickly, so pack the first three minutes with a powerful punch. Maglaya offers this expert tip: “Be direct, to the point and jump in. Attention is fleeting, so prep with the person you are jumping on IG Live with or if it’s a solo live, just go!”

—Steer away from vanity content. Instead, opt for helpful or useful information for your specific audience. How-to videos are popular, as well as humor and branded content like behind-the-scenes, design inspiration, etc.

—If you keep the content short and to the point, you will have time for an interactive Q&A at the end. The questions asked can also inspire topics for future Instagram Live segments.

3. An Invisible Brand 
—Make sure your Instagram handle, and the handles of any guests you bring on, are clearly visible. The most common question in Instagram Live comments is viewers asking for the IG handle of the person/guest who is speaking. Remember that different devices have different views, so consider signage you can hold up or hang behind you.

—Avoid busy and distracting backgrounds. Instead, use backgrounds suggestive of your brand’s core values or prepare a single-color backdrop with your company logo and IG handle. 

—Be sure to pin the Instagram Live video to your story and to your Facebook business page for a longer shelf life, allowing followers to see it later. And, again, brevity is key. Live viewers may hang with you for a while, but people watching a video later will not.

Most important of all: practice makes perfect. 

Technology, as great as it is, can often be our biggest pitfall. Test everything out in advance, including your internet bandwidth! Make sure you know how to go live, how to bring on a guest, how to pin the video, etc., before you go live.

Good luck. Our email addresses are below should you have any questions on content, branding or social media in general. 

Jen Cullen Williamsis an independent communications strategist and senior consultant for the Luxury Brand Group.
Duvall O'Steenis an independent communications strategist and senior consultant for the Luxury Brand Group.

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