Mustang News: Telling Stories Vertically

Instagram is huge among Gen Z’ers. According to the Pew Research Center, it is starting to leave Facebook and even the Millennial favorite, Snapchat, in the dust. This is why I decided to make Instagram a priority when fleshing out Mustang News’ social media strategy for the 2018/19 academic year.

After even more research, I found that the most viewed Instagram Story of all time was posted by a brand. Basically, using Instagram Stories  is really working for brands. This discovery prompted me to dedicate an entire position on my team to Instagram, primarily focusing on Instagram Stories.

If I’m going to be totally honest, our first experiment with Instagram Stories kind of flopped--but hey, you never know until you try. It flopped because we were simply posting click-baity headlines to try to drive traffic to our website. As it turns out, people on Instagram don’t really want to leave unless they have a really good reason to.

This rocky start didn’t discourage us.

I realized that my original goal for the Instagram Stories was conversions to the website, which was not going so well, but that we were getting a lot of impressions and other types of engagements on them. Lightbulb moment: what if we shifted our goals, stopped trying to get our audience to the website and let them stay right where they were by telling them a complete story on Instagram. We could meet the audience where they are by reworking our content to compliment the vertical, casual format of Instagram Stories.

Ultimate game changer.

By telling stories natively on Instagram Stories, complete with polls and other engagement opportunities, user generated content and leveraging Instagram TV (IGTV), we were able to get hundreds of new eyeballs on our publication’s content and even open up a new revenue stream for our organization. As a news organization, advertisers are really the only way we make any money. When our Instagram Stories started growing in popularity, advertisers wanted to get in on the action and started paying for posts.

All in all, Instagram Stories have become a pivotal way for us to deliver news to the student body of Cal Poly, regardless of a shaky start and all thanks to a little adaptability.