The beginner’s guide to Instagram Live

While it may have started as a simple photo-sharing app, Instagram has quickly grown to become one of the most interactive social media platforms in the industry. Not only can you follow along with your neighbors throughout the day via posts and Stories, but thanks to hashtags and geotags, you can stay in constant connection with people internationally. 

Networking with people across the globe who share your passion for crocheting or cycling is already an incredible feat, but now you can interact with followers in real time thanks to Instagram Live. 


What is Instagram Live?

In 2016, Instagram humbly followed in the footsteps of its predecessor, Facebook, and launched a broadcasting feature. Instagram Live is a broadcast shared in real time with your followers. 

The major difference between Instagram Live and other similar broadcasting platforms is that as soon as your live video on Instagram ends, it disappears. Only recently has Instagram introduced the option to share a replay of your live video via Stories. We’ll dive more into that and other new options later in this guide. 

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Hosting an Instagram Live stream

Whether you’re an influencer wanting to create an open dialogue with your followers or a business looking to host a giveaway to encourage more engagement with your audience, Instagram Live is a great way to connect. And it’s simple to use. 

How to go live on Instagram

Going live on Instagram is a relatively easy process. Here’s how to do it: 

  1. Open the Instagram app. 
  2. Press the camera button at the top-left corner of your screen to open your Stories. 
  3. Swipe left on the bottom of the screen until you reach the Live option. 
  4. Press the record button at the bottom center of the screen. 
Screenshots: How to go live on Instagram

From there, you can see how many of your followers are actively using Instagram at the current moment and might watch your live video. Instagram will also notify some of your followers — most likely, the ones you engage with the most — that you are going live. 

The camera used during Instagram Live is the same as your Stories camera except that there’s a question mark button in the bottom-left corner of the screen. After you go live, pressing that button will show you questions or comments from followers who are watching. 


Can I go live on Instagram on my computer?

At the time of this writing, Instagram Live is only accessible through the mobile app — not the desktop website. However, there are third-party apps you can use like Loola TV that will let you go on multiple platforms at once on your desktop, including Instagram. 

Most apps like Loola TV are free, but you do need to have a webcam or a computer with a built-in camera for it to work. 


How to make comments disappear on Instagram Live

If you’re hoping to deliver a specific message on Instagram Live, comments from your followers may be distracting. Shortly after rolling out Instagram Live, the social media platform introduced a new feature that allows you to hide comments during your live broadcast. 

Here’s how to make comments on Instagram Live disappear: 

  1. Open Instagram > Stories. 
  2. Swipe to the Live function. 
  3. Press the record button at the bottom center of the screen. 
  4. Press Start Live Video.
  5. Press the three dots in the comment field. 
  6. Select Turn Off Commenting.

When you’re ready to turn the comments back on during your live video, press the three dots within the comment field again and select Turn On Commenting.


Can you see who watched your Instagram Live stream?

If you do decide to turn off the commenting feature while on Instagram Live, it’s still helpful to know who is watching you. You can easily see who is watching your live broadcast by tapping on the eye icon. Pressing that button will give you a list of usernames currently watching your feed. 


How long can you live stream on Instagram?

You might be so connected to your followers that you could chat on a live video for hours, but Instagram will cut you off after 60 minutes. However, if you want to keep the broadcast party going, you can immediately hop back on Instagram Live for another hour. 


How to save your Instagram Live videos

Just because you went live instead of shooting a video doesn’t mean you won’t want to save the memory! Lucky for you, there are multiple ways to save your Instagram Live video. 

The first option is to share a replay of the Instagram Live to your Stories. If you already have your Stories Archive turned on, share your live broadcast to your Story will automatically save it to the archives. 

Here’s how to share a replay of your Instagram Live video to your Story: 

  1. End your live video. 
  2. Tap the Share to Story option at the bottom of the screen. 

Once you press that button, your Instagram Live replay will be on your Story for at least 24 hours. After that, it will disappear from your profile unless you add it to an Instagram Highlight. While it might not be visible to your followers, the live video will be accessible to you in your Stories Archive. 

If you want to save your live video to your Camera Roll, that’s just as easy to do: 

  1. End your live video. 
  2. Tap the button in the top-left corner. 
  3. Select Save.

After that, your live video will save to your Camera Roll. You also have the option after your Instagram Live ends to delete the live video by selecting the Delete Video option. 


Watching an Instagram Live video

Starring in an Instagram Live video is fun and all, but sometimes, you just want to be a spectator. Watching Instagram Live videos is even easier than creating your own. 

Can you watch Instagram Live anonymously?

At this point in time, you can’t view an Instagram Live anonymously. If you’re watching an Instagram Live steam in real time, your name will appear on the person’s screen the moment you start watching. If you watch a replay of the live broadcast on a person’s Stories, it will show up the same way as other posts and videos on Stories. 

Screenshots: Tracking who watched your Instagram Live

How to ask questions on Instagram Live

While you might jump into an Instagram Live simply to watch, the main point of this feature is to engage and interact with the person on the video. The easiest way to do that is by asking questions. 

In 2018, Instagram added a new feature called Questions in Live. With it, your question will no longer get lost in the ever-flowing stream of comments but will instead appear directly in front of the person on the live broadcast so they can answer you in real time. 

So how do you ask questions while watching an Instagram Live? There are two ways. First, Instagram rolled out a Q&A feature in 2018 that allows you to post a Q&A sticker to your Stories for you to answer while doing an Instagram Live. 

If you’re asking a question, all you have to do is submit your question through the Question sticker on the person’s Story. Then watch the live video and wait for your question to be answered. 

 Here’s how to ask questions through Stories: 

  1. Open the person’s Stories. 
  2. Respond to the question sticker they posted as you normally would. 

When they go live, your question will be in the person’s Q&A Tray for them to answer. The question they are currently answering will also be displayed on the screen for you to see. 

Here’s how to ask a question during an Instagram Live: 

  1. Open the Instagram Live you wish to interact with. 
  2. Press the question mark button at the bottom-right corner of the screen.
  3. Type your question and submit. 

Your question will once again be put into the Q&A Tray for the person to answer during their live broadcast. 

Screenshots: How to ask and answer questions during an Instagram Live

Instagram Live is one of the best ways to engage with your followers on the app. We hope this guide has armed you with enough information to try it out for yourself! 

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