Instagram Stories: News media’s ally for social engagement

By Sabrina Passos

Group RBS (Zero Hora)

Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil


When Zero Hora (ZH) received the INMA award for best practices in social networks in May, a new challenge was launched: Maintain the high engagement that has differentiated the newspaper’s accounts since the beginning of last year.

In 2016, ZH was the Brazilian national leader, according to the Torabit index (even as a local vehicle). In 2017, it remains in the spotlight and placed first seven times from January to August.

Zero Hora has fully embraced Instagram Stories, capturing an even more engaged audience with its content.
Zero Hora has fully embraced Instagram Stories, capturing an even more engaged audience with its content.

The result is a reflection of a set of actions, but it has gained extra reinforcement since May with Instagram Stories. Today, Instagram has more than 700 million users worldwide (with 250 million on Stories daily). In Brazil, there are 45 million.

Taking advantage of the success of our most engaged network (ZH has more than 260,000 followers on Instagram, with engagement rates of almost 8%), the network team recently prepared a fixed post grid on Stories that guarantees a conversion (and a conversation) that was not possible before.

By studying user behaviour insights, we learned the best days and hours to post and also the format that converts and engages the most. Entertainment content, for example, is the most viewed and gets the most clicks. In a single post about pop singer Anitta (the top global producer of Stories, by the way), we got more than 25,000 impressions.

Also successful at ZH are posts about pop culture, the horoscope, and, of course, soccer. The best post performers have an average of 300 clicks, endorsing the fact that Instagram has the potential to be more than a brand enhancement or just a relationship channel. In the case of ZH, it helps us reach a younger audience than is normally achieved on Facebook or Twitter.

The strategy is to tailor the content that would be posted in a traditional way to the Stories language and format, which is only 15 seconds long and can be fully animated. The schedule today, in addition to the daily content based on the breaking news, runs a weekly grid, managed by the social networking team.

  • Insta Invasion: This is a take over where guests post on the account, usually with fun slant. For example, backstage, the network team shows some “making of” from our newsroom.
  • Who is Who: This stars one of our journalists, who shares experiences, cool stories, and curiosities about his or her career.
  • Ask To: We invite followers to send questions to a guest and the guest responds the next day.
  • Thursday’s Comments: On Thursdays, we post the coolest (and most unusual) comments of the week from our users.
  • Weekly Report: Close to the weekend, we post teasers from our top stories, with photos and videos, inviting the users to access full stories on our site.
  • Cool Tips: Every week, the network team makes a cool suggestion to our followers. This could be something about what movie, television series, or play is worth watching, or a geek tip.

In addition to following the above grid to catch the user and stimulate the access habit, we use — with no reservation — all the Stories features to enrich the posts (such as tagging, using hashtags, and geolocatisation) about our traditional news stories.

We respect the vertical format and think about micro-narratives and the best use of the edition effects, with the support of ZH video editors (keeping in mind that Stories allows for time-lapse footage, Boomerangs, and slow or fast motion posts).

Like Facebook or Twitter, Instagram deserves a special strategy and a warm dedication. Simply reproducing what is done in other networks and on the Web site, or ignoring the user profile and behaviour, is a big mistake and underestimates a huge opportunity. On the frontlines of the battle for attention and engagement, we can’t take this risk.

This is one more lesson learned. Thank you, Stories.

About Sabrina Passos

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