Instagram Live Rooms Is Actually a Good Thing, Experts Say

More than just competition

Key Takeaways

  • Instagram is launching Live Rooms, an update to its live video service.
  • Up to four users can join a single room and take part in roundtables, panels, and more.
  • While it offers similar features to apps like Clubhouse, Live Rooms is much more than just an attempt at competing with other social apps, experts say.
Screenshots of Instagram Live Reels.

Instagram’s Live Rooms isn’t just a knock-off of Clubhouse, experts explain, it will help drive collaboration to a new level.

Instagram announced Live Rooms earlier this week, adding the ability to bring in up to four people on a live video stream. Since the announcement, the feature has drawn a lot of comparisons to Clubhouse, an exclusive audio podcast app that offers similar services. Despite residing in the same space, experts say Instagram Live is more than just a cheap attempt at replicating the success of other apps.

"This update is terrific in the sense that it combines the massive power of the Instagram audience, with the appeal of live shows," Thibaud Clément, co-founder and CEO of Loomly, told Lifewive via email.

"If we look at Clubhouse, it presents an almost 'audio podcast on steroids' experience; I look at the latest update to Instagram Live as giving a similar feel for video podcasts."

Expanding Success

Originally launched in 2016, Instagram Live has offered users the opportunity to go live to their followers for a number of years. However, like many other video-calling applications—Zoom, Google Hangouts, etc.—Instagram Live has seen a huge boost in activity as COVID-19 lockdowns have worn on.

"This will also offer users the opportunity to find and consume niche live content, at scale, which is unprecedented."

In April 2020, Business Insider reported that Instagram Live usage had jumped more than 70% in the month of March, when lockdowns around the world first started popping up.

Many turned to the service as a way to escape the loneliness and isolation that the lockdown brought. It allowed users to connect with others, and soon we started to see a variety of different live shows popping up all over Instagram.

As those lockdowns have continued, and social guidelines have dictated the continued avoidance of large, physical gatherings, Live has continued to offer a way for more users to interact with each other.

"It’s kind of like a radio show or podcast," Elena Duque, a social media mentor and influencer, said via email. 

More Than Competition 

Anytime a major social media app makes an update like this, we see many users remarking about how it feels similar to another application, or how it isn’t a feature they wanted. While it isn’t unusual for companies like Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter to copy popular ideas from other social media apps and put their own spin on them, that isn’t always the driving factor behind updates.

It’s easy to make the comparison between Clubhouse and Instagram Live Rooms, but Live Rooms is something that has been on Instagram creators' bucket lists since the big surge last year, according to Brian Kofi Hollingsworth, a brand consultant who specializes in social media.

Hollingsworth sent out a Tweet on March 2, stating, "They’ve [Instagram] been upgrading live since the spike last year." He even noted that Instagram has been testing this feature in India since 2020.

Clubhouse launched in April 2020, and while it did see some success early on, it wasn’t until big names like Elon Musk took to the platform publicly earlier this year that it started to see the growth that has made it such a comparable application.

Scaling Upward

According to Instagram, itself, Live Rooms is an update to a feature that many already were using. It’s an answer to the community’s request, and one that many are excited to use.

While it’s entirely possible that Live Rooms is being pushed as a result of Clubhouse’s success—an attempt to dig into that audience—it’s also not a feature that is appearing out of nowhere.

"We are seeing social media permeate more aspects of our lives; for instance, it has, in effect, become the mall of the 21st century through social commerce," Clément told us. "This will also offer users the opportunity to find and consume niche live content, at scale, which is unprecedented."

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