Aishwarya Ramesh
Social Media

Instagram stories and 'news-y' storytelling…

The digital way of storytelling has changed the way publishers work and the way audiences consume news. At the third edition of Digipub, Niharika Pande – strategic partner manager, News @ Facebook and Susha Kaul – strategic partner manager, News Partnerships @ Facebook conducted a session focussed on how publishers could leverage Instagram stories to increase reach. The objective they focussed on was using Instagram stories in a way that each news piece garners more attention and eventually help publishers achieve their ultimate goal — to get readers to swipe up and actually visit the site.

Kaul shared with the audience, a brief profile of an average Instagram user. She informed the audience that Instagram has an average of one billion monthly users, a majority of whom are between 20 to 25 years of age. Out of one billion, there are 500 million active users who consume stories. She pointed out that this audience segment is keen on consuming hard news, as long as the news is packaged differently. Further, she told us that 80 per cent of Instagram's active user base is outside the US — making countries like India, a high priority market for the growth of content consumption. She mentioned that some of the questions the session was attempting to answer were — "Where is my ROI?, How am I going to really create business value out of this? and How long do I keep investing?"

Susha Kaul
Susha Kaul

"One in every six Instagram users follows a publisher on the platform," she divulged. This statistic was a pleasant surprise to her, since the consensus was that most users on Instagram, create an account with the platform to follow their friends and family.

She gave the example of Jessica Yellin, a senior White House correspondent who's now running her own account. "She has a hashtag called news, not noise. And it's really interesting because she takes every breaking news story, and she gives her followers her detailed take on the news on her Instagram story and she's working on building a community around that — independently. But this could equally be true for any journalist or any editor that's working with a publisher already."

During the course of the talk, she spoke about branded content as a factor that can drive direct sales and revenue for publishers. "Both on Facebook as well as on Instagram, there are ways in which you can drive a lot of branded content. This is where you can really participate with another brand, influencers and put together a campaign which is entirely publisher-driven," she informed. She also said that both Facebook and Instagram have tools that can help provide creators with insights on the branded content they publish. "You can actually measure how effective your campaign has been. You can actually have a handshake, you have a shared dashboard, you can share it with the public and with the partner as well," she explained.

She went on to talk about the pillars driving business value on Instagram as a publisher. "The first is direct monetisation. Second is about expanding reach and off platform conversions. Lastly, how can Instagram be a place you can drive conversions as well?” she said.

Pande's half of the talk focused on the benefits of leveraging Instagram as a publisher, with a case study about how the Washington Post reached out to their younger audiences — by telling them stories shot by their own peers. They engaged journalism students from schools across four battleground states during the elections. These students were trained in a workshop. When the students returned to the campus, they actually shot the election stories through a campus lens. These were run as weekly posts and Instagram TV videos on the Washington Post handle. During the project when these journalism students were involved, Washington Post saw a doubling of its net follower growth.

Niharika Pande
Niharika Pande

She also stated an example of the story The Economist published when the women of Saudi Arabia got the right to drive in their own country. "Instead of putting out just a story on it, the reporter sat in a car and shot a story and wrote a post on what it felt like to be a woman driving in a city in Saudi Arabia. The point being, things can work differently, different things can click for different publishers and for different audiences. The idea is to do a lot of hit and trial to see what really works for you as a publisher," Pande signed off.

Watch the full session below...

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