Everything may be happens on screens these days, but people have not allowed it to box in. Musicians made it music videos on Zoom, with backup dancers performing choreography in their own separate squares. Public figures conducted interviews about Clubhouse, with audience members asking passionate questions from their homes. Chefs, whose restaurants are closed, offer cooking classes to the public on Twitch and prepare the same meal on top of each other.
People also turned to Instagram Live, such as Verzuz rap fights have become an interview series for date visits and influencers made up. But the feature, which has been around since 2016, has always had one major limitation: you could only broadcast with one person at a time. Now Instagram is expanding Live with Live Rooms, a feature that allows up to four people to participate in a broadcast. The company hopes to result in a more creative use of its platform as it competes to keep people’s attention amid a growing number of options.
While Instagram Live has been supporting two-person streaming for years, the company says it has never been a very popular feature. Then came the pandemic, and it changed dramatically. Last February and March, the company said it was watching 70 percent more Instagram Live than in previous months. Creators also began living with a mate more often. Having more than one guest, however, required a bit of juggling. When Diddy hosted a charity event On Instagram Live for Health Workers, he had to turn celebrities like Cardi B, Tracee Ellis Ross and Michelle Obama from second place in April.
“The number-matching feature was: ‘Can I go live with different people?'”, Says Kristin George, director of Instagram for creators for Instagram. With Live Rooms, anyone can start a live broadcast and then add up to three guests, who receive a push notification inviting them to join. Each person appears on their own square, similar to a video call, but with the usual outfit of an Instagram stream: Live comments appear on the screen, creators can use filters for augmented reality, and viewers can pay money in the form of ‘badges’, Instagrams. version of a digital dot pot. In building up the feature, George says four people looked the maximum before rooms felt too crowded, but that will likely increase in the future.
Instagram started testing Live Rooms a few months ago in India and Indonesia, major markets that were very active on Instagram Live in 2020. So far, George has said she uses the feature creatively. One beauty influencer invited three friends to do a tandem makeup study that shows how the products work on different face shapes and skin tones. Another creator hosted a Bachelorette-style show with a wife and two potential suitors.
This kind of cross-event is not just about creative expression – it is also a growth strategy. By appearing together in a stream, creators can build each other’s audiences and cross-pollinate their networks.
For its worldwide launch on Monday, Instagram organized a week of events to show what the new feature can still do. Programming includes several roundtable discussions with creators, including two sessions to discuss the #BuyBlack movement, an effort to support black-owned businesses that received more attention last summer. Another Live Room, featuring prominent creative creators such as Alok Vaid-Menon, Basit, Travis Alabanza and Pidgeon, will raise money for the Transgender Law Center.
“I really believe that collab culture is the future,” says George. ‘People want to create together, even when they are apart, or perhaps especially when they are apart. What was really interesting about what is currently happening on social media in the market is that everyone is trending in a different way. ”