What Instagram in a global pandemic can teach us about human nature

As more than half of the world remains under some form of quarantine, musicians and celebrities are shattering viewership records on Instagram live. However, these record-breaking view counts do more than validate the popularity of Instagram or the growing trend towards livestreaming. They provide rare insight into the human condition.

Below are three of the key takeaways from Instagram live's "quarantine breakout" I believe content creators and entrepreneurs should pay attention to.

1. Live crossover content is powerful

The coronavirus pandemic has kicked crossover content into high gear on Instagram live.

Take the past few days, for example… Reese Witherspoon talking about cars with rapper Offset (two influencers/celebrities with seemingly dissimilar audiences), live beat battles between renowned hip-hop and R&B producers, such as Hit-Boy and Boi-1da (there's already hype building for a Kanye West vs Pharrell follow up); and a unusual but rather entertaining fireside chat between Justin Bieber and Toronto Maple Leafs’ center Auston Matthews.

These live crossovers aren't just memorable experiences for fans—they make the world people are quarantined inside of feel bigger by blending two different brands (and audiences) together. Call it a convergence of worlds. And it’s fascinating. One day, very soon, it will become a very effective branding and marketing exercise.

Why will it be so effective? Because humans love being reminded that the world is connected—and no one, celebrities included, is out of reach.

2. Shared visual experiences are the future

The fact that hundreds of thousands of people are tuning in to Instagram live during a global pandemic suggests that if humans cannot be together, they at the very least want to see something together. In other words, humans will naturally gravitate towards shared visual experiences, whether government policy prohibits close physical proximity or not.

Given the long-term effects that Covid-19 may have on sports and entertainment, shared visual experiences will only rise in popularity.

3. Livestreaming presents new user interaction possibilities

Late last month, rapper Swae Lee pushed the boundaries of Instagram live by inviting a fan "on stage" (essentially adding him to the stream) during his virtual concert. With Millenials and Gen Z looking for more human, authentic brands, livestreaming interactions like this could play a critical role in reaching younger consumers.

Via AdAge,

". . .Gen Z wants to be part of the brand experience. If you can provide them with an authentic experience, they’ll participate. If you’re successful, Gen Z won’t just join your journey, they’ll bring you along on theirs, becoming brand ambassadors through their own social channels, while helping you grow your brand as influencers themselves."

Although many things can go wrong on a livestream (especially when you bring on guests), it's this very risk that makes livestreaming so enthralling. It's a refreshing change of pace from mainstream media’s carefully rehearsed and overly structured broadcasting.

Instagram live highlights old and new trends in consumer behaviour

With the majority of the world confined to their homes, we are witnessing the focalization of human attention like never before. This pandemic period—which has revealed opportunities for businesses to indulge primeval human behaviours as well as shape new ones—will influence consumer habits for years to come. I hope you think about the impacts of live crossover content, shared visual experiences, and the new opportunities they can create for your business.

Aaron Hoddinott

Investor and marketer willing to take big swings at bold ideas.

Aaron Hoddinott

Investor and marketer willing to take big swings at bold ideas.