Earlier this week, more than 10,000 viewers tuned in to watch a 6-minute discussion between Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele and Jared Leto, conducted on Gucci’s Instagram Live page.
The conversation was part of a new feature launched by Instagram in October, which allows users to add friends to a live broadcast using split-screen mode. However, despite wooing early adopting figures like Michele, most fashion brands have steered clear.
A screen grab from Alessandro Michele and Jared Leto’s Instagram Live chat (Image via YouTube)
Much like retailers were slow to hop on Instagram Live when it launched in December, most have yet to experiment with the shared chatting option, which permits the addition of speakers to a live stream in real time. However, by turning a blind eye to live video for fear of the unrefined, fashion brands are missing key opportunities to engage with consumers, according to Alyssa Bronander, a freelance marketing consultant and former senior content strategist at Rent the Runway.
“I haven’t seen tons of brands doing it; everyone’s kind of afraid of it,” she said. “That’s what happens with new features, like Instagram Live, when they come out. Theres a lot more at stake.”
Particularly for traditional luxury brands, live feeds threaten to tarnish a veneer of perfection and aspiration often crafted over the course of decades. Instagram Live and its new shared-screen function provides an off-the-cuff, authentic glimpse inside a brand that many companies don’t feel comfortable sharing, Bronander said.
“Established fashion brands are less likely to dive into the unknown. They’re only recently getting into influencer marketing now at the larger fashion houses,” she said. “Part of it is they’ve created this very precious brand that has been very curated. When you bring it to this live arena, there are a lot more chances to go wrong.”
While not everyone is eschewing the platform — brands like Calvin Klein and Christian Siriano and have used it, mostly at events like New York Fashion Week — they are less apt to trial other uses, especially an addendum like a shared screen. In many ways, brands are failing to capitalize on the feature by neglecting to give consumers the behind-the-scenes glimpses they want, said Instagram’s director of fashion partnerships, Eva Chen. She cited examples of untapped use cases, such as CoverGirl going live with ambassador Katy Perry to discuss new products.
“Authenticity is a buzzword, yes, but what does well is that sense of realness; going behind the scenes and making things a little less polished,” Chen said in an interview last week at the Decoded Fashion Summit in New York City. “A lot of our best practices have to do with showing more behind the scenes and remembering there’s the feed, but there’s also Stories and Live.”
Bronander added that fashion and beauty brands could use the feature to promote or announce a new collection, particularly a collaboration with another designer that would be conducive to a split-screen discussion. Other use cases could be an “ask me anything” type of discussion, made popular on blogs and forums like Reddit, that would feature two brand executives sharing insights.
“Exclusive access to information is really interesting to followers,” she said. “It’s like having a VIP conversation.”
Kyle Wong, CEO of Pixlee, said that, though fashion and beauty brands have been slow to adopt the feature, the screen-sharing capability can be especially helpful when working with influencers. Rather than having them participate in a traditional Instagram takeover, a brand executive or designer can just share their screen and talk with influencers remotely.
However, while Instagram’s recent addition of polling has proven to be major draw for influencers, few have taken on dual-screen live streaming, according to Kamiu Lee, head of business development and strategy at influencer network Bloglovin’. For the most part, she said, brands and influencers are still more comfortable operating within Stories because they have a stronger sense of control.
“There’s a lot of pressure in producing Instagram Live content, especially for an influencer,” Lee said. [Dual-sharing] could be interesting because it takes a little bit of the pressure off the creator, you have someone to share the screen with versus one person having to carry the show.”
Ultimately, Wong said, the influx of new social media features points to the need for retailers to invest more heavily in digital — an area where several brands lack the manpower to craft innovative strategies around new programs.
“The problem is that many of these brands are so busy with other responsibilities that Live is just an additional responsibility to an understaffed team,” he said. “To do something like Live, you need to have the resources. I think as more brands invest in more digital headcount, this could work.”