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Instagram 101: How publishers can better harness the platform

The mobile-focused social media platform recently passed one billion monthly active users (as of June 2018) and is incredibly popular with millennials and teens: 41% of its users worldwide are known to be below the age of 24. Crafting an Instagram strategy is essential for publishers to reach a wider audience online, especially if they want to appeal to these generations.

Make Instagram Stories a Regular Habit

It was only a couple of years ago when Snapchat was the platform of choice for publishers looking to connect with millennial and younger audiences. With Instagram’s acquisition by Facebook, however, and the implementation of the Stories feature in 2016, came the migration of Snapchat’s target audience to the platform—and publishers followed. Now, Instagram Stories is rife with additional features that can benefit publishers looking to leverage it to drive interest in their articles.

Encourage Interaction with Stickers

As social media provides ample opportunity to build a relationship with your audience and encouraging them to engage in conversation about your posts, polls and questions are two features suited for this task. For polls, upload a photo related to your chosen topic—especially if connected to an article you want users to engage with—and click the ‘poll’ option under Stickers to add it to the photo. Add the question you want to ask viewers, and users will then be able to select yes or no when viewing that particular story. You can also customize the text to create choices other than ‘yes’ or ‘no’ with each box accommodating up to 26 characters. Ask your audience’s opinions on significant parts of your story and view the results later. On the other hand, you can connect your audience with notable figures by conducting informal ask-me-anything type interviews on Stories through the questions option. Selecting the questions sticker will allow you to add a dialog box to your Stories photos where users may type in anything in response to the question you ask. You can share the answers by recording a video with your chosen subject or create a text slideshow via Stories.  

Document Through Video

In addition to encouraging users to engage with Stories posts directly, you can also take advantage of the video feature. You can either share an edited version of your latest video coverage on the platform or do live coverage. If you have more than 10,000 followers or are able to attain verified status on the platform, you can then add a hyperlink to each Story post that appears when a viewer swipes upward. Use this to direct viewers to full coverage hosted on your website.

Drive Traffic with Engaging Photos

Get people interested by sharing the best photos from your articles. Highlight breaking stories and special features by choosing what to share carefully. Create a posting schedule for these photos as well—don’t share them immediately after the article releases on the site. Rather, take advantage of Instagram’s analytics features to determine the time of day your audience is the most active, and post then. This way, you can maximize eyeballs and have greater chances of directing these users to your website. Remember the carousel option for photos and videos as well—you can upload multiple pieces of media in one post, opening up more possibilities for storytelling (and sneak peeks of what’s on your website).

While you may already have images ready to use from your main site, you can always add embellishments to make them more eye-catching, such as filters, text, and borders. Use a mobile editing app like Instasize to achieve the effect you want.  

Match Posts with Strong Captions

When writing captions for your posts, make your audience interested in learning more without veering into vague territory. Good choices are excerpts from news stories that accurately summarize events, quotes from interviews, and descriptions that include relevant details about what’s happening in the photo. Use tags to your advantage—whether it’s the photographer, your covered subject, or organizations and brands, do search each individual Instagram account and tag them in your caption.

End your caption with a call-to-action phrase. You can direct readers to other parts of your Instagram account (such as to click the link in your bio or view your Stories for the day). Another option is to ask an open-ended question to promote discussion in your comments section. After this, don’t forget to use appropriate hashtags in your posts as well to increase visibility—posts with hashtags receive 12.6% more engagement than posts without, and you should include no more than 11.

Publishers can use social media to supplement and enhance their content and draw people into learning more. The most-followed brand on Instagram right now is a publisher—and this success bodes well for others in the industry who want to follow their example.

Natasha Ponomorroff, Senior Marketing Director, Instasize

About Instasize:  Instasize is a content creating toolkit for publishers or indeed anyone editing photos and online content on mobile. 

Photo by Fancycrave on Unsplash