UPDATE May 4, 2017 — In order to provide the most accurate and helpful information, we’ve updated this post with the latest usage statistics and numbers from Instagram. In the midst of a major boom, Instagram’s numbers are changing and growing quickly, making it a stronger and more influential platform. We’ve preserved the original text of the article, but have added clearly-marked updates beneath select passages with new and relevant information.
Instagram’s released a brand new feature to the public, and with it comes new opportunities for audience engagement through the platform. Live Stories represent Instagram’s foray into the perpetually expanding livestreaming space, allowing users to “go live” and interact with their audiences in real time. With the emergence of several new livestreaming platforms and apps, Facebook-owned Instagram is keen on being the livestreaming platform of choice with its already established 600M monthly active users.
Both Facebook and Instagram have not only been quick to “copy” its primary competitors (i.e. Snapchat, YouTube), but also to offer improved features namely user searchability, content discovery options, and the ability to share/embed content across mediums. Instagram Live Stories debuted globally (on January 24, 2017) with a variety of features that distinguish it from other livestreaming apps and with a 100 million user base already using regular Instagram Stories.
Live Stories come just a few months after Instagram Stories, which were introduced in August. Stories are pictures short videos that disappear from Instagram 24 hours after they’ve been posted, allowing users to share more without overposting or cluttering their feeds. Positioned as a fleeting and casual way to share what’s happening without archiving it forever, Instagram Stories bring some of the Snapchat functionality to Instagram.
Unlike Facebook Live (where live videos become normal videos and are searchable once the livestream is complete), Live Stories aren’t meant to stick around. Once they’re over, they’re gone and aren’t stored on user pages for any length of time. Instead, they’re meant to be a spontaneous and real-time addition to the Instagram set of features.
Instagram Live Stories aren’t just a method for broadcasting, but a means of interaction. Users are able to submit questions and comments through the platform. Instagram users have always been able to comment on photos, but Live Stories allow viewers and broadcasters to interact in real time. Live Stories bring with them a new way to discover content, too. The Explore page now has a section called Top Live that allows users to find and watch the most popular Live Stories on Instagram.
Creating a Live Story is dead simple. Users simply swipe right from their feeds to start the camera, then select the option to “Start Live Video.”
Step 1: Open the app, click on the camera icon in the top left.
Step 2: Once on the camera screen, swipe right at the bottom options from “Normal” to “Live.” Tap on “Start Live Video” to start livestreaming.
From there, users can livestream anything from events and meetups to tutorials and Q&A’s.
Though it’s long been thought of as a photo sharing platform and network, Instagram’s move into the livestreaming space signals a growing interest in becoming a social network for a wider variety of digital content. On the surface, livestreaming and photo sharing are wildly different digital beasts, but as it pushes the range of its features and services forward, Instagram seems to be looking to establish itself as the primary social network for visual media.
It stands to reason that livestreaming would be a part of that mission, but it also puts Instagram on an increasingly level playing field with other social networks that have livestreaming features, Facebook (its parent company), Twitter, and Snapchat chief among them.
Though livestreaming may not yet be the way that the vast majority of users interact with content, the medium’s growing constantly. Livestream found that 81% of users watched more live video in 2016 than they did in 2015. There’s tremendous opportunity to tap the potential of growing livestreaming platforms, and Instagram’s Live Stories is positioned to become a major player in the livestreaming space.
Instagram Live Stories present new ways for brands to capitalize on the growth of livestreaming in a way that’s unlike any other social network, particularly where partnerships with influencers are concerned. Because Instagram is already home to a bevy of powerful influencers and because the new livestreaming feature is native, it becomes a natural extension of the content creation that influencers are already doing on the platform.
Influencers know their audience best and spend much of their time learning what audiences respond to, how they interact with content, and the best ways to convey their messages to followers and viewers. Brands will be able to use influencers’ deep and thorough understanding of audiences to their advantage, and Live Stories will allow both influencers and brands to leverage pre-existing Instagram audiences and approach them in a new way with new messages and methods of interaction.
Livestream found that 80% of audiences would rather watch a live video from a brand than read a blog post, and that 82% would rather interact with a live video than a social post from a brand. There’s clear opportunity for brands to push forward and challenge the way that they approach audiences, and livestreaming promises to be a big part of that burgeoning opportunity.
The relationship between brands and influencers is dynamic and constantly evolving, and the introduction of Instagram Live Stories promises to make that relationship richer and more powerful. The future of social media and content promises to include more and more livestreaming opportunities, and Instagram’s Live Stories are poised to be a major part of the future of livestreaming.