Just when you thought Mark Zuckerberg was heading back to his home planet for a few millennia of cryo-sleep, he goes and launches a brand-new Instagram feature: broadcast channels.
In fact, it’s been hard to avoid them, with users across the globe being bombarded with channel invites and notifications since the feature launched. But are they just a fad, or could they present a new opportunity to engage your potential customers? Let’s find out as we take a deep dive into broadcast channels…
The TL;DR on broadcast channels
Here’s what broadcast channels are designed for, according to Instagram itself:
“Broadcast channels are a public, one-to-many messaging tool for creators to directly engage with their followers at scale. Creators can use broadcast channels to help followers stay in-the-know with the latest updates and behind-the-scenes moments using text, photo, video, voice notes and polls. Followers can react to content and participate in polls, with more features coming soon.”
Essentially, they’re a way for account holders to better connect with their followers, in a format they’re likely to engage with. According to CEO Adam Mosseri, users share more photos and videos via DMs than to their Stories or Feeds each day – so, theoretically, followers should be more comfortable communicating through broadcast channels.
How do they work?
Creating your own broadcast channel is a pretty simple process:
- Open Instagram and find the ‘message’ symbol at the top right of your feed.
- Write a new message.
- Before you send it, tap the option to ‘Create broadcast channel’.
- Get creative – choose a channel name, define your target audience, set how long your channel will be active, and decide if it’ll show on your profile.
- Finally, tap ‘Create broadcast channel’ again. Et voilà.
Once you’ve created your channel, it’s just a matter of inviting audience members – which you can do via an invite link, through your stories, or in a direct message. This is where you can go crazy since you can invite your entire existing audience.
The good, the bad, and the backlash
But going a bit too hard on the invites might land you in hot water – as companies, influencers and creators who quickly jumped on the broadcast bandwagon discovered.
Thousands of users complained about relentless pinging from Instagram in the weeks after the feature was introduced, leading many to silence their notifications altogether. One annoyed consumer took to X to air their frustrations, saying, “Instagram needs to stop with these broadcast channel invites, I am not interested in any of your broadcasts!” Another complained, “if I get one more invite to an Instagram broadcast channel, I’m going to scream.” Not quite the positive user engagement Instagram was expecting.
Despite the backlash, there are some positives to this feature fiasco. With their inherent adaptability, influencers and brands have been able to tailor their own channels to any topic – from calling out climate greenwashing, to sharing easy recipes, to book club recommendations – with millions flocking to join these exclusive clubs. So chances are, if you’ve something worth sharing, broadcast channels could be a great place to do it.
Our verdict: fad or value-add?
Only time will tell. But while the backlash against this feature has been loud, it’s been dying down over the past few weeks as broadcast channels have become a normal part of our online life. Regardless of how annoying its debut might have been, Instagram’s expansion into a more community-minded platform like Slack, Discord or Facebook is a smart one.
In fact, for some business owners, the new feature could strengthen their competitive advantage, with 86% of Fortune 500 companies reporting that community building provides vital insight into their customers’ needs.
Ready to broadcast your content?
Whether you pursue broadcast channels or not, one thing’s for sure: it pays to keep your finger on the social media pulse. The key to doing that when you don’t have the time? Having the right partner to help you understand new trends and explore the opportunities relevant to your brand, your audience, and your wider strategy.
We’ve years of experience in exactly that. Reach out to our award-winning team today.