The Guardian finds less polished video works better on Instagram
The Guardian is finding when it comes to Instagram, less is more — at least when it comes to how polished videos are.
Two months ago the Guardian started tracking and analyzing its Instagram audience data on a more granular basis, to test what formats and topics it should develop and evolve and what should be scrapped. The upshot: video drives more new followers than static posts, but time and resources spent on creating polished Instagram videos, simply aren’t worth the pay-off.
After crunching data, the Guardian found that videos heavily produced videos with scripts and shot in a studio and professionally edited were simply not worth the effort. (Example: a short video series in which a Guardian presenter gave daily updates on gender pay gap-related news).
“It was just too laborious for the return on investment,” said Eleni Stefanou, acting social platforms editor at the Guardian.
Less labor-intensive posts have been introduced instead — static graphics or quick video explainers on news topics — have proved more popular. The average completion rate for these explainers is 45 percent, according to the publisher though it wouldn’t break out exact numbers.
These explainers will typically be about 15 slides that delve into topics such as the Russia spy poisoning story that dominate headlines through March. The Guardian is publishing around two of these a week and plans to increase its output in coming weeks. It will also keep its Instagram Stories series such as “Fake or For Real,” which were introduced earlier this year as a method of building return viewing.
“What the Guardian publishes now feel much more like news stories that are very much the culture of the internet — a it more like BuzzFeed’s style,” said Charlie Cottrell, head of editorial at agency We Are Social. “The language and use of emoji, and more low-fi sets, having younger presenters from all different kinds of backgrounds that will likely resonate more with the young audience they want to reach. The Guardian is a publisher and a brand that people have a very strong emotive relationship with.”
The publisher’s five-person social media team now meets daily to talk through the week’s Instagram metrics, and get under the skin of what works and what doesn’t.
The channel has already proved a useful marketing vehicle for driving traffic to its website, and reaching new readers. In the last four months the publisher’s main Instagram account has grown from 860,000 to 1 million followers, and 80 percent of those followers are new to the Guardian, according to the publisher. Its Royal Wedding Instagram coverage, which included a mix of static images, Instagram Stories, and other videos attracted 30,000 more followers within 24 hours. The Guardian Instagram account typically adds between 500 and 1,000 new followers a day, according to the publisher.
Of course, fuzzy engagement metrics aren’t enough these days. Reader revenue has become a core pillar of the Guardian’s business model, and as such, figuring out whether Instagram …read more