How to go live on Instagram or TikTok: advice from a Sky News reporter
UPDATED 14TH SEPTEMBER 2023
Thinking about streaming videos? If you’re wondering, “How do I go live on Instagram or TikTok?”, get some expert advice from the best. Sarah-Jane Mee from Sky News shares the main pointers she’s learned after many years in front of the camera…
Streaming live video: why should brands use Instagram Live?
Connecting with your audience through live video streaming is a wonderful tool for small businesses. Going live on Instagram, Facebook or TikTok may seem daunting at first but the benefits really are many.
- Live streaming gives you an opportunity to have a heartfelt, two-way conversation — in real-time.
- Live streaming gives customers a chance to ask questions — removing barriers to sale.
- Streaming live videos helps bring your brand to life — showing you are more than the products you sell.
- It can help grow your customer base too — by inviting people to join, who might not be familiar with your brand.
And social media live streaming is really popular.
- Over 100 million people worldwide watch Instagram Live every day — and roughly 20% of Instagram users watch IG Lives.(1)
- Facebook Live videos produce six times as many interactions — and get 10 times more comments than regular videos.(2)
- Around 20% of Live streaming users watch TikTok live — and 65% of these are every day.(3)
So how do we step into this role when it’s something that even the professionals spend years honing? We asked Sarah-Jane Mee of Sky News, for her expert advice. Read on for her honest opinion on what it takes to feel comfortable in front of the camera (or if it’s just regular videos you’re making, read our article on ‘How to use video’).
Practise before you go live on social media
When she first started out in regional news, Sarah-Jane Mee remembers that there was no Twitter, no Instagram (or questions about ‘How to get more Instagram followers’), and Facebook had only just started. So there was no easy way to practise going live, other than in front of studio cameras. She says, “I was so conscious about not making mistakes because I was so nervous, so I was really wooden. And I think everyone is like that when they first start out. Being comfortable in front of the camera comes with experience and practice.”
She adds, “The beauty of what’s happening now is that what we’re broadcasting on is a phone, and that’s a mobile studio, so you can record and do as many practice runs as you like before you go live.”
And it’s true, you really do have a media centre in the palm of your hand with your smartphone, so let’s get going with how you can feel more relaxed with having the camera pointing at you. Here are Sarah-Jane’s tips…
With social media live streaming — be authentic
The number one top tip is: Don’t feel you have to be someone you’re not. You can have an alter-ego to boost your confidence, but you can’t fake what you think and feel because it won’t come across as being authentic. Don’t worry about being overly ‘professional’, people are just as interested in you as a person as they are in your business. Your presentation doesn’t have to be immaculate — dropping in some natural chat helps your audience connect with you.
To help with this, Holly used to create a private Instagram account, and would practise going live on Instagram with just one friend watching. Sarah-Jane agrees that this is a great idea and adds, “Get honest feedback — you need constructive criticism so go to your harshest friend and say, ‘Tell me what you think and don’t dress it up’ and then take what they say on board.” And if you’re not comfortable talking, you could use behind-the-scenes tours, products being made or interviews with your team, for example.
How to prepare for a live stream on social media
- Things can (and will) go wrong on Instagram Lives or TikTok. Your internet connection might drop out or the dog might bark. It happens. Go with the flow and laugh it off, it all adds to the entertainment. If you have connection issues, you may need to start again or reschedule.
- Tell your guests what to expect. Sarah-Jane suggests it’s a good idea to, “Run through what you’ll discuss beforehand with guests so you both feel prepared. Have key signposts in your notes to bring it back if you wander off topic. To put them at ease, remind them, ‘Nobody knows your subject matter better than you, you’re the expert here’ and, ‘It’s a conversation, I’m not here to trip you up’ which can help.”
- Ask your Instagram audience or TikTok followers what they want. Sarah-Jane says, “Ask what they’d like to see, keep it simple and you’ll come up with better ideas for content. Sometimes you’ll sit down and go, ‘What can I do?’ and you try to be too clever about it, but you don’t need to overcomplicate it.”
- Remember, your Instagram Lives are never wasted. While you’re getting into the swing of things, don’t look at audience numbers. If they’re low, it’ll only make you panic and think, ‘What’s the point?’ The point is that you’re producing content which sits on your profile and will be available for viewing even after it’s live. If it’s really not worth keeping on your profile (ask that ‘harsh-but-fair’ friend!) you can easily remove it.
Streaming live on social media: key takeaways…
You can easily google the practical side of how to do an Instagram, Facebook or TikTok Live — but for expert tips on coming across well to your audience, just remember this business advice…
1. Practise before you go live on social media. Practice makes perfect:
Doing a trial run is always a good idea.
2. With social media live streaming — be yourself and keep it real:
People can spot if it feels inauthentic.
3. Plan your live stream content but don’t sweat the mistakes:
4. Ask people what they’d like you to cover:
So you can create relevant, useful information.