Why Live Video on Instagram Isn’t a Game-Changer for Social Media Marketing

Written by Team Edgar

On November 22, 2016

Live video is finally here for Instagram!

It probably doesn’t affect you at all!

(Not much, anyway. Not when it comes to your marketing.)

See, when Facebook launched live video in early 2016, they made a big push for brands to experiment with the feature. They gave live broadcasts priority placement in the New Feed, for example, and even paid big media companies like BuzzFeed to use it.

(Remember when 5 million people watched a watermelon explode?)


Now that Instagram – which is owned by Facebook – has a live video function of its own, you might think that it would be the same type of game-changer for social media marketing.

But it won’t be.

Because Instagram’s live video feature sports one HUGE difference from Facebook’s: the videos disappear.

Just like the Instagram Stories feature that debuted in summer 2016, live video broadcasts on Instagram are automatically deleted – and in this case, they actually disappear as soon as the broadcast ends.

Let’s take a closer look at what that means, and why it matters so much!

Facebook is for marketers – Instagram isn’t

Let’s get one thing straight – Instagram can be a useful social network for marketers. Brands are doing exciting, interesting, effective things there. Heck, we’re on Instagram!

Just because you can do something with a certain tool, though, doesn’t mean that tool was designed with your purposes in mind.

(It’s like scratching your back with a spork. Effective, but not why sporks exist.)

While Instagram does offer some advertising solutions, and even makes a tidy profit from them, it’s always been a platform that prioritizes users over marketers.

It’s why you generally can’t do things like include URLs in your captions, or automate your posts the way you can on networks like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. These are things that would benefit marketers in a big way, but not necessarily the average user!

Live video on Instagram has been designed the exact same way.

Making live broadcasts disappear immediately after they end makes them even more ephemeral than the photos and video clips in Instagram Stories, which at least remain available for 24 hours before being lost forever.


Compare it to Facebook, where your live videos get posted to your page and stay there forever even after the broadcast ends.

Two-thirds of live video watch time happens after a broadcast ends – since Facebook wants to entice marketers by ensuring videos are seen by as many people as possible, it wouldn’t make sense for those videos to disappear when they end!

Instagram’s live video feature isn’t designed to get you as many views as possible – it’s designed for sharing moments with the select few people who happen to be able to catch them. Fun for users, but not necessarily a gamble that favors marketers!

It’s there if you want it

Live video on Instagram wasn’t designed with the wants and needs of marketers in mind – but you don’t have to let that stop you from using it, if you’re curious.

The way it functions now, Instagram’s live video feature won’t be a game-changer for marketers like Facebook live, but they’ll still use it.

For example, businesses might promote live broadcasts ahead of time to make sure their followers are ready for them, then use those broadcasts for sharing short-term deals or announcements. (Brands have been doing this on Snapchat for a while to make opportunities like these enticingly exclusive.)

So while you can expect to see marketers taking advantage of Instagram live video, if it isn’t something that interests you, you can probably skip it without really missing out. It’ll be worth keeping a closer eye on in the future, though – if platforms like Periscope are any indication, social networks that start by making your updates disappear don’t always stick to that way of doing things!

What do you think about Instagram’s live video feature? Do you plan on using it? Or does it seem like it won’t be worth the effort for videos that disappear in an instant? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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