When Instagram introduced the addition of a live-streaming option to their app back in November, many (including myself) questioned whether live-streaming would fit into the Instagram process. But Instagram saw a unique use-case for live, catering to their younger audience.
As noted by Instagram Live product manager Shilp Sarkar, they'd had taken note of a new live-streaming trend being facilitated by group streaming app Houseparty, where younger users were turning to live not as a broadcasting option, necessarily, but as a virtual hangout.
"The use case that caught our attention was people just hanging out on live, particularly young people. After school, they jump on a livestream and hang out. That use of live [video] is particularly interesting to us."
That focus is what lead to Instagram making their live option ephemeral - it was only present while the broadcaster was live. After you stopped filming, it was gone. No replays. No recorded videos posted to your profile.
You'll notice the use of 'was'.
The approach seemed like another way to appeal to the Snapchat crowd and provide more intimacy and privacy, but it seems like that use-case has proven less important, with Instagram now adding a new option to save your live video to your camera roll after the broadcast is over.
As explained by Instagram:
"After your live broadcast ends, tap Save in the upper right corner. You'll only be able to save your video - not the comments, likes, number of viewers or any live interactions. After saving, tap Done and your live video will be saved to your camera roll but will no longer be available in the app."
And while the videos won't be immediately available in the app, once they're saved to your camera roll you can re-post them to your Instagram profile, adding them for everyone to see.
In some ways, it makes logical sense - as Snapchat found, people can use third party apps and workarounds to capture any content they see anyway, so the idea of truly 'disappearing' content is probably not realistic. Maybe this is just a concession of that fact - or maybe Instagram had seen demand for a save option and adding it was simple.
(And worth noting, saving to your phone, not your Instagram profile, could also ensure Instagram's servers don't get suddenly overloaded with saved streams).
Either way, saving a stream is optional, it won't happen automatically, so there is some additional flexibility to the process for those who do want their content to dissolve into the ether after viewing.
Adding a save option will be welcomed by marketers who love the fact that Facebook Live or Periscope enables them to create re-useable content. Instagram not only now facilitates the same on their platform, but with the content saved direct to your camera roll, you can also easily upload it to every other social network you're active on. You should always look to post platform-relevant content to each network of course, and Instagram live format videos may not fit in other places, but it gives you another content option to consider.
Or, if it's no good, just don't press save and let it erase.
Really, it's a fairly safe option for Instagram, covering the various use-cases for live content. And while it may not appeal to all users to have a save option, leaving it control of the broadcaster is the best bet to counter any such concerns.
Also, one other interesting note from the announcement:
"We are excited by how our community is using live video to connect with their friends and followers in the moment. This is just the first of many improvements we'll be making to live videos this year."
The 'first of many'. No doubt the expectation was that they'd continue to evolve their live-streaming offering, but it'll be interesting what else they come up with to advance Instagram Live in future.
The option to save your Instagram Live broadcast is available in Instagram version 10.12, available now for both iOS and Android.