FT Instagram Stories
Overview of this campaign
The goal was two-fold: First, to bring Instagram users back to FT.com where they could read more of our journalism, sign up for newsletters, form a reading habit, and perhaps even subscribe.
The second was to figure out how to make FT journalism “work” and be engaging on Instagram Stories. We had little experience in producing slides and short videos to fit the vertically-oriented platform and Stories offered a new opportunity to engage with our audience through direct messages, polls and quizzes. These were entirely new challenges that we had to solve to continue our success on the platform.
Organizationally, the more important goal was to bring Instagram users back to FT.com. Until this point, we mostly used Instagram to build a brand and increase awareness. We had a fast-growing audience, but measurable returns were small. This was a chance to capitalize on the work we’d done so far.
Pioneering vertical visual content was important from an innovation standpoint. We wanted to test the limits of how we could present our stories on social media, particularly on this new platform. This was also an opportunity to push teams across the newsroom to think more about how their stories – much of which was meant for the website or traditionally oriented video platforms – could work in a new space and in a new way.
Results for this campaign
Through Stories, we turned Instagram from a platform where we’d see only a few dozen bio link click throughs, to one where we could drive thousands of visits with a single post. We spread FT journalism to a new audience, with millions of unique views on our Stories on everything from the Federal Reserve and Bitcoin to Fashion Week and Brexit.
We have driven more than 120,000 visits to FT.com through Stories. An average Story will drive more visits than an average Facebook post or tweet, even though our audience on Instagram is comparatively small (600k versus 3.7m followers on Facebook and 6m followers on our main Twitter account).
It is not drive-by traffic. More than 40% of our non-subscriber visits to FT.com from Instagram are from people who would visit FT.com again within 7 days - a key internal metric called ‘quality visits’ that correlates highly with them eventually becoming subscribers. This number continues to rise even as figures for Facebook and Twitter stagnate or decline slightly.
The longer-term success is in innovation. We have added the ability to design and shape FT content in any way that fits any platform we choose. When we have a big story, we have more flexibility in how we design it and, in turn, more avenues to distribute it.
We have developed a tight-knit, engaged community that interacts with the FT on Instagram on a daily basis. Our weekly news quizzes have becoming a defining feature, one that followers thank us for and participate in regularly. And when we solicit feedback, we get it – as we did with our 2018 predictions Story, when we received more than 200 responses, all of which we replied to and many of which sparked a conversation between the user and the FT; another aspect of our continuing efforts at audience engagement, wherever the audience is.