I tried out Instagram broadcast channels, so you don’t have to, and here’s what you need to know.
Broadcast channels are just one of the unexpected and unrequested recent features presented by Instagram, the platform that’s constantly evolving–for better or worse.
Its latest dive into the group chat-like Broadcast Channels is another attempt to create more engagement from creators using in-app features. But is it worth it for business owners?
Find out as I detail my experience using IG Broadcasts over the last couple of months, including the good, the bad, the unnecessary, and the confusing. Whether Broadcast Channels are here to stay or not, after listening in, you can decide for yourself if it’s a social media feature worth adding to your task list.
In this episode of the podcast, I talk about:
- Instagram’s Midlife Crisis
- When NOT to try new features
- The broadcast group chat vibe
- The pros and cons of broadcast channels
- Notification overload
- Four IG broadcast strategies for businesses
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- “If you are listening to this and you're like, I don't know if this is for me, my philosophy is to let the marketers figure it out. Unless you have the time and the team to explore a new area of the platform, it is sometimes best to let it run its course.” – Andréa Jones
- “Broadcast channels are a lot like something like sms marketing, which is like text messages, email newsletters, LinkedIn newsletters, group chats. It's very much a group chat vibe without the group portion. It's just you talking to other people. They cannot talk back. They can react with an emoji, but they cannot respond to any of your messages.” – Andréa Jones
- “People will be…more open to adopting something like this because they don't have to download a new app. They don't have to go somewhere else. And I think this is really the strongest selling point for this feature is that it's another way to show up for the people who are already there paying attention to you because of that.” – Andréa Jones
- “Maggie Patterson of BS-Free Business does this really well where her Instagram broadcast channel is kind of a behind-the-scenes of some of the content she's producing, some of the things that she's thinking about, some of the topics she's seeing on the internet, the books that she's reading.” – Andréa Jones
- “I am posting insider insights to top performing posts from myself and my clients to give perspective on what's working well in social media right now. And this isn't something I'm currently doing anywhere else. It's something that I really wanted to do anyways on social media. My team and I were kind of playing around with different formats. Should it be a video? Should it be a carousel post? What should it be? And this [broadcasts] is currently the easiest way.” – Andréa Jones
- “We really need a little bit more substance to it in order to stay active participants in that channel. Otherwise, it becomes a giant advertisement. And we all know what we do for ads. We skip them. We literally scroll past them. We click skip.” – Andréa Jones
- “The best part of this future potential strategy is that we don't have to create new content. Content's done. Content's created. So it can be a great way to just simply take a content piece that's already created and get more life out of it.” – Andréa Jones
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Watch the Episode Below:
Andréa Jones (00:00):
I tried Instagram broadcast channels so that you don't have to, and today we're gonna talk all about it, whether you should use it or not and how to use it. Let's get into it.
Welcome to The Savvy Social Podcast, the show that blends stories and strategies to help businesses create engaged and profitable online communities using the unique power of social media. And now, your host, Andréa Jones.
Andréa Jones (00:41):
Y'all Instagram is having some sort of midlife crisis where they're trying all of the things. It literally reminds me of, you know, midlife crisis that happens in movies where, you know, you buy the Porsche and you catch your hair and you get a new due and you get some Botox and you just go, I'm a new me. Like, it really does feel like Instagram's doing the most right now. In the past year, they introduced things like those status updates that just disappeared without a word they said, we're focusing on reels. And they said, whoop, we're not focusing on reels. They even introduced paid verification, which I talk about in my private podcast because they already changed their mind on that as well. So I wanted to record a podcast episode today to dive into Instagram broadcast channels because I was doing some research on this myself.
I had a totally different episode planned today. And in my research I noticed that nobody was talking about the strategy. They were simply saying, here's a broadcast channel, here's what it is. And even some of the other marketer channels that I was creeping in on, cuz I love to creep, I would creep in on their channels and they weren't really doing anything unique or different. And most of them actually just had one message that said, Hey, I started a channel, I'm figuring out what to do with this. So I was like, you know what? Let me tell the people what I've observed and how they can use Instagram broadcast channels in a strategic way, especially as a business owner. Now, before I dive into this as well, I do wanna say, if you are listening to this and you're like, I don't know if this is for me, my philosophy is to let the marketers figure it out.
Unless you have the time and the team to explore a new area of the platform, it is sometimes best to let it run its course. And I think about this with the other things that Instagram has tried. You know, they say, oh, we're going all in on this, you know, little status update that kind of reminded me of like your MSN or Yahoo away message. Am I dating myself, <laugh>? It was like a little away message that you could put like, Hey, here's what I'm thinking right now. And then it just kind of like disappeared, right? So I think we try too hard for the new features. Sometimes it could be a waste of time. The giant asterisk on that is that when there is a new feature, platforms do reward people for trying it out. So it depends on your stage of growth as a marketer, as a business owner, if you have just started with the platform, you may wanna keep doing what you're doing, figure that part out, then layer on a new strategy.
If you've been doing the strategy for a while and you wanna switch it up, try something new, then try something new. Just know that this could go away. Like I feel like I'm 50-50 on whether Instagram's actually going to keep this as a platform or if they're going to make it go away, cuz it doesn't really fit to in my opinion. Alright, so broadcast channels. What are broadcast channels? They are a public one to many messaging tool for creators to directly engage with their followers at scale. That is a quote from the Instagram announcement of broadcast channels, which was announced in February of 2023. So y'all, at the time of recording this, <laugh>, it's been a month and a half since this came out. Okay, if you don't have these yet, they are rolled out to certain countries right now and will be rolled out globally slowly but surely.
It took me a while actually being in Canada, sometimes we don't get the updates right away. So took a, took a few weeks before I even got mine. Now broadcast channels are a lot like something like s m s marketing, which is like text message, email newsletters, LinkedIn newsletters, group chats. It's a very much a group chat vibe without the group portion, it's just you talking to other people. They cannot talk back. They can react with an emoji, but they cannot respond to any of your messages. So let's talk about the pros and cons of this because it's not all bad, all good. And I wanna give you the deeds. So pros, it's in the app, okay? So we don't have to go to another app. P our people are using Instagram, they're on Instagram, they're already using it, it's in the app.
And so because it's already in the app, that increases the chance of adaptability. So people will be easier, more open to adopting something like this because they don't have to download a new app, they don't have to go somewhere else. And I think this is really the strongest selling point for this feature is that it's another way to show up for the people who are already there paying attention to you because of that. Another pro is that it creates intimacy. It feels like, you know, a little bit like an exclusive club like the people who are in are in. And because of that, the third pro is it builds loyalty. One of the cons that I'll talk about is <laugh>. It is a message. So it's your messages functionality and you get a notification. So it has to be something really good for the people in there to be excited about that notification.
Otherwise it's just adding to all of the notifications we get all day long, which means it builds a lot of loyalty. The other thing about this is you have to follow someone to access their broadcast channel. Okay? So you can't just go sign up for random broadcast channel. You have to follow that person in order to even see what's in the channel. And then you do get a little preview before you click follow. So you can see kind of the messages they've sent so far before you click. Yeah, I want in on this. Goodness. Okay, so pros, right within the app creates intimacy, builds loyalty. Let's get into the cons. Number one con for me is notifications. I do not like notifications of any kind, y'all. The only thing I have on my phone right now is text message and Slack. And that's only my team Slack.
If I'm added into another Slack channel, the first thing I do is turn off all the notifications for that channel because I am in too much. We have 15 clients. I have a 15 person team. We have 200 active students in the savvy social school. More like 250. I am on all of the social media platforms because I like them, but also it's my job. Imagine the notifications coming in <laugh>. I don't need another one. I don't even want another one. So for me it's a no. What I also don't like about the notification is I don't have Instagram notifications on my phone anyways, but when I log into the app, I see I have a message and then I go and look and I'm like, oh, it's just, it's just someone's broadcast channel <laugh>. Now that could be because I signed up for a lot in my research but it wasn't as exciting to me as getting a personal message.
Okay, second con, you don't own the people. In fact, you can't even see who's in and following your broadcast channel. So people can be following you. Sign up for a broadcast channel and just lurk. Never respond to anything, never see anything. You would never know that they're there. So not only do you not own the access to these people, so let's say they just don't log into Instagram for 10 days, you would never know. You don't even know who's there. So you can see how many people. So for instance, in mine I can see 94 people are in there. The only way I can see who's there is if they actually engage with the things that I'm posting. So I always have a call out for engagement cause I'm like, I need to know who's here. <Laugh>, maybe that's just me, my personality, I wanna know the people that are like hanging out with me.
But you can't see that unless they engage and they only can gauge with emoji. So the third con is they cannot talk back to you. So if someone saw that you posted, they really liked it, they would literally have to go to your profile, click message or open up messenger and start typing a new message. There's no way for them currently to respond, which I think is a missed opportunity. I think it would be great to have like send this creator a direct message like right at the bottom and it could be personalized. Hello Instagram, are you listening? No, <laugh>. It is annoying to me that I can't communicate in that way. So it's interesting, not a fan. Also the last con I have on here is that you only can view it on mobile. So if someone sends me a link and I click it on desktop, even if I'm following that person, even if it's one that I'm currently active in, I cannot access that material, which again is annoying for me because half the time I'm on my computer anyways, I'm looking at Instagram in a browser.
And so if I see a message notification and I can see that it's from a broadcast channel, if I click on that notification, it says, oh, this is only viewable on mobile. Why? I don't understand why that was a decision. But okay, there you go. Those are the cons. So you don't own the people, they can't talk back to you. You don't know who's lurking. It's yet another notification that's only viewable on mobile. So we're gonna take a quick break and when we come back, I'm gonna tell you four different ways that you can actually use broadcast channels in your business and you can decide if it's right for you. I'll be back soon.
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Let's talk about the four different ways you can use broadcast channels in your business. And here's the thing, this is not for everyone. And as I mentioned at the top of this episode, I would not be shocked if they said in, you know, three to six months, oh, we're going away. We're sundowning, we're, we're moving this feature. Like I just wouldn't be shocked. So keep that in mind. All right, the first way to use the broadcast channel is the update. It's like, do do do do, do news update. Meta themselves actually uses their broadcast channel this way.
So if you go to Meta's Instagram, you'll see Mr. Zuck in there posting updates about meta. It's sharing business updates, changes to the app. Sometimes they'll have polls in there. Sometimes they seem to really be pushing the Metaverse, which I personally just don't care. So <laugh> for me, I'm like skip it. They also share posts in there. Adam Mosseri, the CEO of Instagram, also has a channel and uses it this way. Updates sometimes polls on like, what new feature do you like, enjoy you know, what do you wanna see more of? What do you consider yourself like, things like that. So this is the update. This is actually the most popular way I've seen broadcast channels used. For me personally, I find it helpful for certain accounts. So like Adam Mosseri's channel, the Instagram like update channel.
I find it helpful because sometimes I miss posts in the feed, which to me, like if you're the CEO of Instagram, I feel like your post should just be at the top anyways, that's how I would do it. But anyways, that's neither here nor there. I like to get the updates because I like to know quickly. So to me that's helpful for people I don't care about. I found it annoying to go like, here's my latest post. It's like I wasn't that excited about your latest post anyways. And I think a lot of people would feel that way. Maybe you, you could position it that way for your super fans get notified of the latest post, but they could also just go straight to your profile and click the option to get notified of your latest post.
This notification though shows up in your DMs, which is kind of nice for some people. All right, so that's the update. The second strategy that you can use for Instagram broadcast channels is the BTS or the behind the scenes. I really enjoy this one.
So Maggie Patterson of BS-Free Business does this really well where her Instagram broadcast channel is kind of a behind the scenes of some of the content she's producing, some of the things that she's thinking about, some of the topics she's seeing on the internet, the books that she's reading. I'm a huge fan of Maggie's book lists as a fellow reader although I don't read nearly as much as she does. But I love the behind the scenes and I think this behind the scenes strategy could work really well for lifestyle brands or for, you know, personality brands.
And a lot of my clients are these big, bold personality brands. So I think it could be interesting to almost have a tweet style update area where you share your little thoughts like here's what I'm working on right now, or what should my next podcast episode be about? Or how are you feeling about this latest update? You know, just to get some feedback, you can put poles in the broadcast channels, so that could be a great way to see how people are feeling as well. And I think this behind the scenes strategy could work really well, especially if you don't update it every day. I found the ones that were updated every day felt too redundant for me. And I like the ones where it was like a weekly update. That was a good cadence. Anyone that didn't update frequently enough, sometimes by the time I did see an update, I was like, who is this <laugh>?
I don't remember this person. So could be a symptom of me signing up for too many broadcast channels, but I also think it was just the frequency that they were updating them with. All right, so we have the update, we have the b t s, then we also have the exclusive. And this is what I do with my channel. So it's called the social media experiment. And the exclusive strategy for broadcast channels means you're sharing exclusive content. This means it's something that's not currently anywhere else. And I think that this could be a really interesting way to use broadcast channels. Again, I have the team and the time to be able to devote to this. It's also my job so unfair advantage, but I am posting insider insights to top performing posts from myself and my clients to give perspective on what's working well in social media right now.
And this isn't something I'm currently doing anywhere else, it's something that I really wanted to do anyways on social media. My team and I were kind of playing around with different formats. Should it be a video, should it be a carousel post? What should it be? And this is currently the easiest way for me to produce this because I can share a link to the post. I can give my bullet points for why this is working and it's really quick for me or my team to write and put together. It highlights and showcases my clients. So that's a win. And it's a win for the people reading it too, cuz they're getting tons of valuable info from insights they may not see publicly on the app for things like shares, saves, watch time, that sort of thing. If you're thinking about using the exclusive strategy for yourself, think about something that you can share quickly something that's exciting to you and your audience and something that will be sustainable over time.
So this is something that we are always create, like we create hundreds of posts for our clients every week. So I always have a bank to pull from. It's really easy for my team to write up something for me to post it for me so it doesn't necessarily have to be me. And it's something that is exclusive content. So that's the one that I'm using today. The downside I will say of exclusive content is that right now I have what, like less than a hundred people in my channel. And so I'm definitely repurposing all of this at some point. I haven't figured out how yet, but you know, for the size of my audience, having a hundred people in the broadcast channel is not necessarily make it worth it to me particularly. But what I will say is I have seen some people who are lurking in that channel, leaving some emojis book discovery calls with us recently for services.
So I think having them see the results that our clients are giving, just prove to my point that this type of content is valuable and needed and necessary. So what I will likely do is continue the channel for another month or so, but then take the content from that channel and repurpose it on social media in other ways. Alright, the fourth type of way to use this channel. So I have the update, I have the BTS, I have the exclusive, then I have the reminder. And the reminder could be really combined with the update, but it also could be a reminder for any of your business happenings. So let's say you have a live event, you're reminding people about that live event. Let's say you have a sale going on, or let's say you have a promotion going on I see this, using this potentially for the Savvy Social School account.
If you wanted to get reminders of our live events that are happening, any sales, flash sales you know, any spin-off products we have coming out you could potentially join that channel. I haven't pulled the plug or pulled the trigger. Ooh, I don't like that. I haven't <laugh> I haven't explored that option just yet because of the team and the time. So my team, my team's time is spent on other things. I tested it on my own channel and we only have a hundred people. The Savvy Social School channel is even smaller, so it feels like a make work project. So it's an idea that I'm like, hmm, that could be a strategy, but I haven't tested it out yet. This is the least popular way of using Instagram broadcast channels is as the reminder. I think it's because nobody wants another notification, number one.
Number two, the type of information that's shared. We really need a little bit more substance to it in order to stay active participants in that channel. Otherwise it becomes a giant advertisement. And we all know what we do for ads. We skip them <laugh>, we literally scroll past them, we click skip. I was pressing play on a YouTube video the other day and it was two ads back to back that I could not skip. I just left the video. I was like, I don't even wanna watch this video anymore. Like, that's ridiculous to me. So that's what we do. Ads, we don't want ads. So having the reminder channel could potentially be the ad channel and we don't really want that. All right, A bonus strategy for you, which I think will be up and coming way to use this channel is the repurposer, the repurposer or the recycler if you nasty <laugh>.
So I don't know why I said that, but having a avenue to repurpose your newsletters I think would be the next best way to use this content space. So this is how I currently use LinkedIn newsletters, for instance. It's the same content that's in my weekly newsletter that goes out the inbox every week. It comes out a day later on LinkedIn. I could easily see taking those concepts, maybe truncating them a little bit, repurposing them for an Instagram broadcast. The best part of this future potential strategy is that we don't have to create new content, content's done, content's created. So it can be a great way to just simply take a content piece that's already created and get more life out of it. However, I have not seen this in the wild yet, and so it causes me to think a little bit more about this and if this is something people actually want, need, or will enjoy.
So let me know, dear listener, if you came across a broadcast channel that was a repurposing strategy, would you stick around? Would you engage? Would you go, Ugh, I already get this in the newsletter, I don't need it here. Or would you go, Ugh, I forgot that this newsletter existed. Now I have a way to stay in touch with one of my favorite business owners. I don't know. Head out over to my Instagram, send me a DM and let me know. Also, let me know if you're using broadcast channels. I'm still in my creep mode and I wanna creep your broadcast channel. So send me a DM with the link to your broadcast channel and I would love to check it out. That's all for today's episode. Thank you so much for joining me today. I'll see you soon. Bye for now.