Most of the time, a newsroom’s goal is to engage its audience on its own platform, behind the beloved paywall. It’s always trying to encourage regular consumption of journalism to increase loyalty. And, for a long time, this way of thinking also influenced NTM’s 18 Swedish media companies when it came to social media.
But even though we deliberately chose to make posts on Instagram and Facebook with the aim of getting clicks through to our articles, we didn’t get the kind of results we wanted. Our data told us our customers mostly take part in our journalism on our own Web sites. (In most ways, of course, this is extremely good for business.) But we realised we could get more out of social media.
This spring we decided to rethink our social media strategy from scratch. I asked my team member, Audience Engagement Manager Jens Werner, who has been responsible for the work with the new strategy, to describe this change:
“The purpose of the work is primarily to create engagement around our brands and ensure that social media does not become a copy of our sites. Instead, we want to share things that evoke emotions and always have the human at the centre,” he said. “From having a focus on driving as much traffic and as many conversions as possible, we are now moving toward creating strong feelings for our brand and seeing our followers as friends, not as consumers who have to buy something at all costs.”
One of the reasons for the change in strategy is the reduced share of traffic from social media. Media companies overall have been seeing a downward trend in traffic from social, especially from Facebook. Today, NTM receives a very low percentage of its total traffic to articles from social media, which means that the functionality of social media is changing for us.
So, which platform is actually the most important right now? “The platform we will put the most energy into is Instagram,” Werner said. “With the Stories format, we work actively on news events to make sure our followers receive an impression of us as an active newsroom. With the posts in the feed, we create more long-lasting (posts) that create a human touch and have the human being in focus.
“The reason for our focus on Instagram is that the target group is perfect for us in our work with 30- to 50-year-olds and to get more women interested in our journalism,” he continued. “In addition, this is a target group who otherwise rarely comes into contact with our journalism but who we can reach on Instagram and build a relationship with.”
NTM’s strategy also includes advice to newsrooms on working with sponsored editorial posts, templates for a more effective presentation, goal-setting work within NTM, and a checklist to follow:
- Will sharing create engagement?
- Does sharing evoke emotions?
- Is the target group people younger than 50?
- Would you tell a friend about the news yourself?
If we do not meet the requirements of this checklist, we will not share the news.
Norrköpings Tidningar is one of our local media companies that has been very focused on Instagram and follows the new strategy. In 90 days, it achieved 91% more interactions and 65% of the followers are women. Norrköpings Tidningar publishes an average of five stories per day and three posts in its feed per day.
Fredrik Lagerqvist, the local editor-in-chief at Norrköpings Tidningar, said the team has learned several important lessons related to Instagram.
“Our followers on Instagram are our target dream group: 65% of the followers are women and about half of them are 27 to 43 years old,” Lagerqvist said. “This makes Instagram a super important platform for us, perhaps the most important for target group growth.”
Norrköpings Tidningar has gotten its followers to make checking in with the company a habit in their Instagram day. “It increases the chance they want to enter our big news world and become subscribers,” Lagerqvist said.
He noted that three to four dedicated employees working with social media is enough; too many people makes things complicated. The company is active publishing at least five Stories a day, and it chooses its material with care; a top story on the Web site is not necessarily a good Instagram Story.
Additionally, it’s important to vary video, slideshows, and video content. It also gives “likes” back to those who “like” Norrköpings Tidningar’s content.