Picture of a phone with Shopify software

Start Your Business with Shopify

Try Shopify for free, and explore all the tools and services you need to start, run, and grow your business.

Instagram Live: How To Sell Through Instagram Live Shopping

instagram live: a guide fro small businesses on left and right has an outline of Instagram Live ux

Instagram Live shopping is becoming increasingly popular. More than 100 million people watch an Instagram Live video each day, with four out of five people preferring live video to static content (such as blog posts).

These real-time connections are valuable to any ecommerce business—that’s why social media platforms like Instagram are offering this feature as an additional way for businesses to connect with their followers.

So, how do you go live on Instagram—and most importantly, turn Instagram livestream viewers into paying customers? Here’s how you sell using Instagram Live shopping.

Why should you use Instagram Live for selling and product promotion?

Instagram Live allows you to communicate with followers in real time during a video stream.

By using Instagram Live broadcasts to showcase new products and answering questions from prospective customers, you’ll provide followers with a behind-the-scenes look at your business. This real-time interaction has a 10% to 15% sales conversion rate (compared to 1% to 2% for standard content). 

Template Icon

Free Webinar:

How to Grow and Monetize Your Instagram Account

A free workshop with field-tested Instagram marketing tips. Learn how to grow your Instagram audience and monetize it with an online store.

How to go live on Instagram

To go live on Instagram:

  1. Open the Instagram app on a mobile device.
  2. Navigate to your business’s profile.
  3. Press the + button in the top right hand corner.
  4. Select Live.
  5. Press the Live camera icon at the bottom of the screen.

Screenshot of Instagram interface showing how to find live video settings.

Go live on Instagram by locating your business’s profile, pressing the + symbol, and choosing Live.

Instagram Live dimensions, specs, and requirements

If you don’t already have an Instagram account, you’ll need to create one before posting Instagram Live videos. And since it works best as a tool for growing your Instagram audience, you’ll want to have an active presence on Instagram, too.

But there are specific Instagram Live video requirements and specs that you need to follow:

  • Length: Maximum of four hours. (Note: if you plan to pin this live video to your profile once it ends, there’s a 15-minute limit.)
  • Dimensions: Vertical video displays at a 9:16 aspect ratio.
  • Resolution: Minimum resolution of 720 pixels.
  • Frame Rate: Minimum frame rate of 30 FPS (frames per second).
  • Content Guidelines: Your video is at risk of being reported and removed if it does not adhere to Instagram’s content guidelines.

How to make sales with Instagram livestreaming

  1. Create excitement
  2. Build a rough agenda for the Live
  3. Sync your ecommerce platform
  4. Invite guests to join Instagram Lives
  5. Assign an Instagram Live moderator
  6. Go live on Instagram
  7. Follow up post-event
  8. Save previous livestreams to your profile
  9. Measure your analytics

1. Create excitement

Get people excited about your upcoming Live video through other formats. The more awareness you can raise around the upcoming live event, the more likely you are to have potential customers tune in.

This includes:

  • Alternative formats on Instagram, such as grid posts, Reels, and Instagram Stories. (Pro tip: Use the reminder sticker on your Stories—people will get notified when you go live.)
  • Other marketing channels, such as through email marketing, Facebook ads, and the banner on your ecommerce store’s homepage.

2. Build a rough agenda for the Live

Nobody likes turning up for a meeting with no agenda. Livestream viewers feel the same. Uncertainty around the topic or what to expect can cause viewers to tune out.

Build a rough plan of what you’ll discuss on the livestream to prevent awkward silences. If it’s a Q&A session, for example, have a team member or close family member come up with a list of questions you should expect. A practice test beforehand can iron out these creases and deliver a more confident live broadcast.

3. Sync your ecommerce platform

People frequently purchase through Instagram Live videos. Make those sales as friction-free as possible by syncing your Instagram account with Shopify.

The integration allows Instagram followers to buy products from your Instagram shop mid-livestream. There’s no need to exit the Instagram app in search of any products you’ve discussed. The nudge to purchase is there, and with one-click checkout, there are minimal distractions throughout the purchase process.

While you’re doing this, optimize your Instagram link in bio using Linkpop. Attendees will likely visit your brand’s Instagram account before, during, and after the event. Divert them to your bestselling products via the link in your bio.

Navybaby’s Linkpop landing page diverts followers to its bestselling children’s product bundle.

NavyBaby uses Linkpop to divert its Instagram followers to its bestselling products.

4. Invite guests to join Instagram Lives

Instagram paved the way for influencers to earn a living through social media. Users with thousands (or millions) of followers often collaborate with brands on the Instagram platform.

Increase the number of viewers and improve engagement by inviting Instagram influencers to join or hold the livestream with you. The broadcast icon will appear on their profile page, making your video visible to their followers—building credibility and increasing reach simultaneously.

Graph showing how 17% of internet users frequently watch livestreams, and 70% say they’re likely to buy from influencers.

Statista reports a strong link between social media users who watch livestreams and buy from influencers.

5. Assign an Instagram Live moderator

It’s easy for an Instagram video to steer off track. Assign a moderator for your Instagram livestream for instances such as following an unexpected chain of thought or a customer asking a question you didn’t expect.

A moderator keeps the conversation on track and engages with followers via Instagram DM or the comments section. They can also remove viewers from the livestream if they’re being destructive.

Moderating is an especially important job if your livestreams are popular. If you’re broadcasting to thousands of people and discussing a product, for example, it’s easy to miss a question from a potential customer asking where they can buy it. A moderator can respond mid-video and convert the viewer into a customer.

Source

6. Go live on Instagram

Once your preparation is complete, sign in to your business’s Instagram account and go live.

Instead of jumping straight in with the content, give followers a few minutes to join. Engage with people who comment while you wait to start, and try to stick to your agenda or script. Waffling from your agenda (script) can cause people to tune out.

As for timescales, Instagram offers a maximum live video time of four hours, but it’s best to keep it much shorter. Online behavioral studies show 26% of viewers are likely to finish a 20-minute video, so it’s wise to keep it shorter than that.

Encourage engagement throughout the Instagram Live by making the session interactive. If you’re discussing a product, ask people to comment on the results they’ve seen. If you’re showing behind the scenes of a launch, promise to reveal exciting news once you hit a certain engagement level (i.e., “100 comments for the name reveal!”).

7. Follow up post-event

Your job isn’t over once the Instagram Live video ends. Get feedback to make the best one better by asking questions like:

  • Did you like the format of this video?
  • How long did you tune in for?
  • What topics would you like to see in the next live video?

For another sales push, send an Instagram DM (direct message) to people who watched the livestream. Thank them for attending, and consider offering them a unique discount (such as a code like LIVESTREAM10) to redeem on their next purchase.

8. Save previous livestreams to your profile

Maximize the mileage from your Instagram Live video by keeping it visible on your profile. To save an Instagram Live, tap “Share video” after ending your live broadcast. You can also do this from the Live archive.

Currently on Instagram, there’s a high-level of repurposed videos from other platforms. Much of it doesn’t appear to be designed with Instagram feed in mind, and as a result, much of it doesn’t stand out.

Create an eye-catching cover photo for your livestream replay using Canva templates. Influencers and brands that seem to be having the most initial success on the platform are ones with colorful eye-catching thumbnails that stand out amongst the bland coloring of bland, unedited video.

9. Measure your analytics

Instagram includes a bevy of out-of-the-box insight tools to track the success of your videos.

Pay attention to Instagram Insights metrics like:

  • Views. If you have very few followers but a lot of views, it means that your Instagram Live videos are showing up in people’s feeds, but they’re not following the account. If you have a lot of followers and views, however, you’re growing a highly valuable audience.
  • Engagement. High engagement means your Live videos are effectively capturing people’s attention,⁠ and you should focus more on growing your audience. Low engagement means your Live broadcasts aren’t capturing people’s attention.
  • Audience retention. How many people watched your Live video in full? High audience retention means your content is engaging. Lower audience retention could mean your videos are too long, not what users are expecting, or just plain boring.

Graph showing how the number of video viewers drops significantly after the 10-second mark.

Audience retention graph for an Instagram live video.

Instagram Live content ideas

Instagram Live functions best as a growth tool alongside other formats like grid posts and Stories, so there must be a continuity with your Instagram account. Here are five Instagram livestream ideas to get started with.

Q&A

A simple Q&A session helps you answer the most important questions your customers have: Who are you? What is your brand about? Why should I pay attention to you or buy your products? It’s a truism, but customers find it easier to trust and support your business after they know and like you.

Try having your followers submit interview questions and answer them on an Instagram Live video. This type of user-generated content is a great chance to build a relationship with your followers.

Makeup artist Bobbi Brown answering this customer question: “I want to try your eyebrow pencil in Ash. Does it have a waxy element to it to get brow hairs to stay in place?”

The founder of Jones Road Beauty, Bobbi Brown, jumped on an Instagram Live video to answer viewers’ questions.

Tutorial

Teaching is the most appreciated form of marketing—customers like unlocking more value out of their products.

If you’re selling food through Instagram, teach customers your favorite recipes. If you’re in the makeup biz, let them know how to get that perfect smokey eye. Step-by-step tutorials are a fun way to show potential customers how to use your product.

Behind-the-scenes launch

Giving an “inside look” at your brand helps build trust with your audience, but if it’s not something your followers are accustomed too, it can make your profile look sloppy⁠—not a quality you want to be associated with your brand.

Stories can be a decent spot for behind-the-scenes content, but Instagram Live offers the chance to create long-form evergreen companion content that can exist parallel to your regular content … without distracting from it.

Instagram Live video hosted by Doe Beauty and Michelle Phan to celebrate the brand’s fourth birthday.

Doe Beauty invited Instagram influencer Michelle Phan to host an Instagram livestream that celebrated the brand’s fourth birthday.

Vlogs

Vlogging allows you to build a personal connection with your audience. Like behind-the-scenes content, vlogging on Instagram live offers a separate channel for more intimate videos, but vlogging goes a step further by making your success more personal for your fans.

When you vlog, you invite your audience to not only watch your brand grow, but to become a part of that growth.

Bloopers and deleted scenes

If you’re creating videos where you’ve taken a lot of footage, why let it go to waste?

Viewers are often interested in what gets cut from the content they enjoy. It provides an inside look at the process of creating a piece of content and gives the user a more personal connection to it.

Ready to go live on Instagram?

Going live on Instagram is a great way to warm up your followers and promote products they’d be interested in. It’s also a great way to interact with other creators and grow your audience.

Don’t let your livestream viewers turn out once the broadcast ends. Use Shopify’s Instagram integration to turn viewers into paying customers—and, ultimately, make more money through Instagram.

Instagram Live FAQ

How do I watch an Instagram Live?

An Instagram Live broadcast available to watch will have a purple ring around the account’s profile picture. Click the photo (like you would to watch an Instagram Story) to watch the Live broadcast.

How many followers do you need to go live on Instagram?

You need at least 10,000 followers to go live on Instagram. Livestreaming is a feature available only to businesses, so you’ll also need an Instagram business account to host a live video on the platform. 

Do Instagram Live videos disappear?

Instagram Live videos disappear once the broadcast ends. However, you can save them to your profile by selecting the “Share video” option, or saving it from your Live archive.

Can I use prerecorded videos for Instagram Live?

 

Yes, you can run an Instagram livestream using a prerecorded video from your phone’s camera roll. Just bear in mind that this can defeat the purpose of many live broadcasts, which is real-time engagement with your followers.

Is IGTV still a thing?

Instagram retired the IGTV platform in October 2021. In-feed videos have been rebranded into standard Instagram video content. Instagram Live replaces the live element of IGTV.