If you’ve seen several messages saying, “@username invites you to join their Broadcast Channel,” you’re me over the past few months since Meta announced the feature in February 2023. What was once a trickle is now a flood as Instagram opened its Broadcast Channels feature to (almost) every user in June 2023.
So what’s this feature? How does it work? These are a couple of the questions we want to answer about this feature for Instagram creators.
How do Instagram broadcast channels work?
If you’ve been looking for ways to get big updates to your Instagram audience that you’re confident will be seen, this feature is for you.
Broadcast channels are one of the latest Instagram features. They allow creators to send direct messages to their followers. For the receivers, it’s like a mass WhatsApp group text you can’t reply to. Anyone with a Creator account on Instagram can access it and open up their one-to-many group chat.
This feature capitalizes on what Instagram’s CEO Adam Mosseri noted as the shift in how users are engaging on the platform – in private messages.
Two things to note about broadcast channels:
- creators can only reach followers who have joined (that’s why you’re seeing the notifications)
- channel members can’t reply – they can only react with emojis to show their support or otherwise of the creator’s message
The feature is reminiscent of YouTube’s Community tab, except those allow comments. Still, it’s a valuable tool as it gives creators a direct way to communicate with their segment of followers that actively engage with them.
Why create an Instagram broadcast channel
You can use broadcast channels to share content you want a specific group of people to see. That group could be people you want to give exclusive access to your Instagram content (like a behind-the-scenes look).
Or it could just be the people who have indicated that they are engaged followers (by joining your channel), so you know you’ll get better responses from them than putting up an Instagram Story or sending DMs one-on-one. Some more reasons to create an Instagram broadcast channel include:
A better way to send one message to many people
You might have found yourself wishing you had a way to get more of your followers to engage with content that made a specific request, like feedback collection. Or you may have found that your updates get lost in the algorithm.
However, you usually only have two options: send a mass message hoping you get enough people to click through to your site and then take the action you require or send a DM to each follower. But imagine just how cluttered your DMs would get if you message back and forth with all your followers individually.
That’s where Instagram broadcast channels come in. They give creators a one-way, streamlined communication method, so there isn’t too much noise as their followers reply or react at once.
Expanded formats beyond just text
The chat you start with your followers in an Instagram broadcast channel is much like what you’d get in your DMs. It even lives in the same place – your Instagram inbox – on the same tab.
You also have an array of formats to choose from – text, photos, videos, voice notes, and even polls to get feedback or votes from your followers.
Improve your content offering by combining broadcast channels with subscriptions
If you’ve already been using Instagram Subscriptions to monetize your content, broadcast channels are a great way to give your subscribers even more bang for their buck.
You can choose to create exclusive broadcast channels (available only to your subscribers) or create channels open for all your followers. For example, you can have a channel with general updates for your followers and one with exclusive early-access content for your subscribers.
A roster of planned updates to broadcast channels
While broadcast channels are already pretty versatile, Meta has recently announced further upgrades to the feature. There’s no information on when these will be rolled out yet, but here’s what creators can expect to see in the near future:
- Improved interactions: Expect more interactivity in broadcast channels with question prompts to gather feedback and engage your community.
- Collaborations: You’ll be able to improve your collabs by bringing another content creator into your broadcast channel, giving them access to your audience and potentially bringing some of theirs. You’ll also be able to invite fans (members of your community) to chat with you in real time.
- New ways to promote your channels: You’ll be able to share a link and even previews of your channel to your Instagram Stories for promotion. You’ll even be able to set an expiration date for temporary channels.
- Channel moderation: You’ll be able to add a moderator to help manage members, messages, and content.
How to create a broadcast channel on Instagram
To create a broadcast channel, you must have a Creator account on Instagram. At the moment, personal and business accounts cannot create broadcast channels.
Since you can schedule to your Creator account from Buffer, you can set up your broadcast channel today!
If you have a Creator account (not a Personal or Business account), you should be able to create a broadcast channel. Here’s how:
- First, tap the Message symbol at the top right of your feed – or swipe left on your screen
- Next, select the symbol to create a new message, also on the top right
- Then, the first option you see should be ‘Create broadcast channel’. This is where you’ll be able to customize your channel. Here, you can choose your channel name, audience (for example, if you want to close it to certain followers), when the channel ends, and whether you want the channel to show on your profile.
- Finally, select Create broadcast channel again to finalize everything.
If you need to edit an existing channel, repeat the process above – you should see ‘Channels’ at the top of your options.
How to invite followers and subscribers to your broadcast channel
Once your new channel is ready, it’s time to invite your followers. There are a few ways you can get them into your channel:
- Send your first message: When you send the first message through a new broadcast channel, all your followers will automatically get a notification inviting them to join the channel.
- Sharing an invite link: You can create a channel link to invite someone like you would for a group chat. You can also copy the link by selecting the name of your broadcast channel.
- Sharing a link to the channel in your Stories: Like any other content you create on Instagram, you can share a link to your broadcast channel in your Stories.
- Sharing specific messages to your stories: If you don’t want to share the whole channel, you can tap and hold a single message, then tap ‘Share to Story’.
If you can’t find the feature, that could be because there are still regional restrictions in place as Instagram rolls it out to every user. Or it could be because you’re operating a Personal or Business account – so check on that.
Opportunities for Instagram broadcast channels
Instagram broadcast channels open up a new type of communication and a way to foster community among your followers. To recap, some ways to take advantage of the new feature are:
- Use it to get updates to the subsection of your followers that would benefit from the information without worrying about them missing it because it was on your Story or the algorithm didn’t put it in front of them.
- If you’ve been thinking about collaborating with other creators or even exploring new ways to enhance your collaborations, inviting them into your channel could be a great way to do so.
- Offer exclusive content to paying subscribers: Thanks to Instagram’s Subscriptions feature, you can sweeten the deal you offer by making your channel exclusive to paid subscribers and teasing your content in your posts and Stories.
Even if you don’t see immediately how the feature can work for you, it’s so easy to create that you can make one without any larger motive and test it. Try sharing some behind-the-scenes clips or updates about your business, and see if that helps you better connect with your audience.