“The number one most requested feature was, ‘Can I go live with multiple people?’” says Kristin George, Instagram’s director of product for creators. With Live Rooms, anyone can start a live broadcast and then add up to three guests, who will receive a push notification inviting them to join. Each person appears in their own square, similar to a video call, but with the usual trappings of an Instagram stream: Live comments appear onscreen, creators can use augmented reality filters, and viewers can pay money in the form of “badges ,” Instagram’s version of a digital tip jar. When building the function, George says four people seemed like the maximum before rooms felt too crowded, but it’s possible that number will increase in the future.
Instagram started testing Live Rooms several months ago in India and Indonesia, large markets that had been extremely active on Instagram Live in 2020. So far, George says, she’s seen creative uses of the feature. One beauty influencer invited three friends to do a tandem makeup tutorial, showing how the products worked on different face shapes and skin tones. Another creator hosted a Bachelorette-style show with a woman and two potential suitors.
These types of crossover events aren’t just about creative expression—they’re also a growth strategy. By appearing together in a stream, creators can build each other's audiences and cross-pollinate their networks.For its global rollout on Monday, Instagram has organized a week of events to show what else the new feature can do. Programming includes several round-table discussions with creators, including two sessions to discuss the #BuyBlack movement, an effort to support Black-owned businesses that gained more attention last summer. Another Live Room, with prominent queer creators like Alok Vaid-Menon, Basit, Travis Alabanza, and Pidgeon, will raise money for the Transgender Law Center.
“I really believe collab culture is the future,” says George. “People want to create together even when they're apart, or maybe especially when they’re apart. What’s been really interesting about what's happening in the market right now on social media is that everyone's leaning into that trend in a different way.”