When stay-at-home orders were put into place, tasting rooms who often rely on in-person tastings for about ⅓ of their sales were left scrambling. How could they offer a similar experience of education, sales, and interaction with their customers, while honoring the need to stay at home?

For some, the answer was obvious: Instagram Live.

Instagram Live has been around for a while, and quite a lot of brands were already using it very effectively to grow their audiences and increase engagement, but in this new world where staying at home is safer than venturing out into society, Instagram Live is now just another way for people to stay connected. In fact, in the last few months we’ve seen 70% more brands using Instagram Live than prior to the COVID-19 outbreak!

WHy Use Instagram Live?

It increases engagement: Instagram sends your audience a push notification when you go live AND it pushes your icon to the very front of the Stories feed, meaning that even if your audience doesn’t usually see your stories or posts, they will be more likely to see that you’re live

It increases reach: Instagram rewards accounts that use all of its features. If you use Instagram live consistently, you’re more likely to show up on someone’s discovery page, thus increasing the potential for new audience members.

It increases trust amongst your audience: By showing up in such an authentic and interactive way, you humanize your brand, which increases perceived trustworthiness amongst your audience.

It’s virtually free: Social media is a FREE marketing tool! It will only cost you your time and the ROI makes it worth it.

The data is there: 80% of people say they would rather watch a live video than read a blog from a brand and 82% of people say they would rather watch a live video than consume a social media post.

How to get started

First and foremost, remember WHY your audience is on social media in the first place. They are here to be entertained, educated, and to engage, but their attention span is LIMITED. Though you can go live for up to an hour, I recommend trying to keep your Live to between 15-30 minutes. Keep things snappy!

Here's how you can do that:

Be Consistent

Choose a day and time where you can consistently go Live. Create a schedule and stick to it; this will create anticipation every week!

Have a purpose

Knowing why you're going live will help keep you focused and will give your audience a reason to tune in. No one likes any form of content that doesn't have direction! Here are some reasons YOU might go live:

  • Sell wine by sharing information about a recent release.
  • Reach new audience members by going live with a partner and interviewing them.
  • Update them on what's new in the winery/vineyard, announce new events, or update on industry news.

Create an outline/structure

Any show you watch or listen to has some kind of structure to it, even live news reports. Your Instagram live is a show, like anything else, and so should be treated the same.

Create an outline of general talking points so that your content stays focused and you don't stray away from your purpose. Here is an example of a live outline that I've used and has worked really well:

  • Update on what's going on in the winery/tasting room (<1 min)
  • Introduce the topic of today's conversation or introduce your guest if you have one (~1-2 mins)
  • Go through the topic or do the interview with the guest (~15-20 mins)
  • Q&A: Answer any questions you get from the audience (~10-15 mins)
  • Introduce next live's topic, give details on when it will be (<1 min)
  • Call-to-Action (<1 min)

Hype up the Live Ahead of Time

Announce your live and remind people about it in your stories in the days leading up to it. This will drum up excitement and increase engagement. Here are a couple of ways you can do that:

  • Use the Countdown sticker and encourage your audience to set a reminder for it.
  • Ask your audience for questions about the general topic ahead of time so that even if they can’t join you live, you’ll still be able to answer their questions.

Save the Live

You can now save your live directly to IGTV! It’s helpful to create a graphic ahead of time to upload as your cover photo for IGTV. This will give your content more longevity than the previous 24 hour limit. You can then share the IGTV live replay in emails to your email list, on your blog, and reshare it again and again on your Instagram stories.

How to take it to the next level


Hosting a Q&A will increase engagement! There are two ways to do this:

  • You can use the questions sticker on your story in the few hours prior to going live and then you can answer the questions during the live by clicking the “Q&A” button.
  • You can also ask for questions during the live. I like to type out a comment that says “Ask me a question about _____.” Once the comment is posted, you can double-tap on it, which will allow you to pin it so it doesn’t get lost in the comments. 

Be sure to remind your audience throughout the live to ask questions.

Create a Slideshow

You can now create a slideshow for your live! When you go live, in the bottle right-hand corner there will be a little box where you can access your phone's camera roll.

Here are ways to use this feature:

  • If you’re releasing a new wine: include images of how that wine is made (almost like a story, but this way you can answer questions as you go through the slides)
  • If you’re releasing a bunch of new wines: show how you can pair each wine, or what each of the new wines tasting notes are.
  • Remember to reiterate how people can purchase the wine throughout the LIVE by saying “To purchase this wine, you can visit our website at [insert weblink here]”
  • This is a great way to use your LIVE to make some sales

Some considerations when using this feature

  • when you use the slide deck feature, it will force your face up in the upper right corner of the screen, so be sure that any important information you’re including in your slides is on the bottom right of the screen.
  • It doesn’t run a slideshow, so you’ll have to select which slide you want to show next.
  • Make sure your slides are in the correct order and are in the most recent part of your camera roll beforehand. I've lost time/made things awkward when my slides were completely out of order and were hard to find. I recommend using an app like Canva to create your slides ahead of time.


Go Live with a partner

Going live with a partner, whether you’re interviewing them, they are interviewing you, or you are simply having a conversation about a topic, can help make going live just a little less intimidating.

You can use this feature in two ways:

  • Plan out who you will go live with (like an interview), they will request to go live and you can accept!
  • A note on this strategy: Send the person you're planning to go live with an outline and questions ahead of time so that you are both on the same page. It will make things go more smoothly and will allow your guest to orient themselves more comfortably.
  • You can also encourage your viewers to request to go live with you, so that they can talk to you in person! Jasmine Star does this every Tuesday and Friday, where random people request to go live with her and ask her a question which she will answer. This is a great way to build trust and increase community.
  • Wineries, you can do this with your fans! They can request to go live with you and have the opportunity to, say, talk with the winemaker and ask them questions.
  • A note on this strategy: give each person a time limit, maybe two minutes per person, so that it moves along swiftly and you can include more people.

The benefit of using this feature is that Instagram alerts the audience of the person you go live with, so it’s an amazing opportunity to gain new audience members and grow, especially if who you’re going live with has a large and engaged audience!

Other considerations

  • End your live with a Call-To-Action: This is something you should be doing on every piece of content you create but some think that lives are exempt from this. THEY AREN’T! 
  • Your call to action could be as simple as “join us next week as we talk to ___ about ____” or it could be more strong, like, “Visit the link in our bio to purchase the wine that we talked about today!” 
  • It doesn’t hurt to use that call-to-action throughout the live as well, but it is especially important at the end.
  • Remember, you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. Including a call-to-action could mean the difference between one sale and no sales.
  • You will need a strong internet connection: Nothing can ruin an otherwise amazing Instagram live faster than a blurry, shitty connection.
  • Preferably in bright light: I prefer filming my lives while facing a north- or south-facing window
  • A Clean/Non distracting background: Trust me, no one wants to see your dirty socks hanging half out of your dresser drawer. Set the scene if you can, but if you can't, a blank wall will do!
  • A quiet space: Nothing is more distracting during a live than helicopters flying overhead, kids screaming, dogs barking, or a tv playing in the background. Do your best to find a quiet space, free from distractions. Your audience will thank you for it.

I know that lives can be really intimidating, but you can't get better at something until you give it a go. If you follow the tips above, you'll do just fine!



Heather Daenitz is the founder and photographer of Craft & Cluster, a wine & beer photography and social media marketing company based in Santa Barbara County, California.

When she isn't photographing and telling you how to rock Instagram Live, Heather can be found hanging out with her husband, two dogs, and three chickens in their backyard garden, drinking beer made in said garden.

She also hosts an Instagram Live show every other week with her sister called "A Little Dabble Do You."