Why Instagram Live Can Be Good For Your Brand’s Social Strategy


Last month, Instagram released a new update to the platform: Instagram Live.

Yes, it’s a near-perfect copy of Snapchat stories. You know it, we know it, Instagram knows it.

Why did they choose to add the stories feature? Likely to get their users to share more (hence, use the app more). These brief snapshots of users’ daily lives might not otherwise make it to their accounts because the pictures and video aren’t as high quality as the app, in its original form, demanded.

The casual, low-quality, in-the-moment documentation of a user’s life goes against everything Instagram stands for, really. Each social media platform wants users to share stories differently. Facebook wants users to share their lives in genuine form and to stay connected to family and friends. Twitter wants users to share their thoughts and news with the world thoughtfully — and concisely. Pinterest wants users to share their aspirations, dreams, wish lists and goals with their followers. And Snapchat wants users to share the small moments, the big moments and the private moments with one, two or all of their friends.

But Instagram really wanted users to share the prettiest, most artistic parts of their lives. They even helped them out with filters and photo-editing tools. Until now.

Love it or hate it, Instagram Live is here. Which can really stink for brands. Our social strategy for CSU requires different content for different platforms because (1) the different platforms want stories told in different ways (as mentioned above) and (2) we don’t have the same audience on every platform. But now, Instagram Live shows up to the party and we have to essentially start creating two unique Snapchat stories instead of one. Anyone who manages a Snapchat account for a brand knows how long it takes to develop one story — let alone two stories that need to be different enough so fans who follow you on both accounts won’t get bored.

While we weren’t thrilled about it initially, we did find Instagram Live has its perks.

More People are Watching our Instagram Live Story

It takes a lot of time to build a Snapchat following. We have way more Instagram followers than Snapchat followers. When we started posting Instagram Live stories, we noticed the amount of people watching our stories was far more than our Snapchat stories (naturally).


Less Pressure

Managing an Instagram account for a brand is high pressure. Your content has to be interesting AND beautiful to get those likes.

And when you’re in fast-moving situations where you have one shot to get a beautiful photo, it’s nice knowing you can post the moment to Instagram Live stories and your fans won’t care if it’s more “real” and less “this is the most beautiful thing ever.”

Small Learning Curve

The social media giants are constantly coming out with new updates to their platforms, some of which leave us saying, “Huh?”

We all know Snapchat. We use it. Therefore, doing it on Instagram won’t take much learning.

Smaller Departments and Divisions can now “Snapchat”

While it might be more work for us to create Snapchat AND Instagram stories, our campus partners who don’t have Snapchat can still “snap” on Instagram. Since building an audience for Snapchat is more difficult than writing a research paper without Google, we encourage our campus partners to take over our Snapchat for a day to promote their event or message (when it fits our Snapchat strategy, of course). We still want them to do that, but now they can reach their younger audience that speaks Snapchat on Instagram. It’s a wonderful thing.

We’ve even noticed students taking over our student-run Instagram account @ProudToBeACSURam are getting in on the Instagram Live action.

But Remember

While Instagram Live is essentially Snapchat stories, it still isn’t. 

You don’t have to have the exact same strategy for Instagram Live as you do for Snapchat, and I would actually argue that you shouldn’t. When we cover events that we want to share to Instagram Live and Snapchat, we make sure the same person on our team isn’t managing both accounts. This naturally helps our content be diverse. I’m not going to tell the same story of the Homecoming Parade as Jen, Chase or Kimberly would.

We also (so far) use Instagram Live primarily to cover events, and we’ll still post a picture from the event to our account. Our Snapchat content is much more broad and much more frequent.