The year of the Instagram Story

“Is making news content appealing in a Story format a challenge? Absolutely. But the window of opportunity is short, as Story-watching habits are being cemented and loyalties developed right now.”

There is one clear digital behavior that has seen explosive growth in 2017 and will leave other platforms in the dust in 2018 — the Instagram Story.

Even as a local media outlet, Charlotte Agenda’s Stories are being viewed by 10-, 15-, 20,000 Charlotteans at a time, and still we’re just scratching the surface.

As new features are quietly unrolled by Instagram and its Facebook masterminds, our team is left to play strategic catchup. We haven’t started experimenting with Story Highlights. The fact that users can now follow hashtags (ours, #cltagenda, has been included in 25,000-plus posts) means we have the opportunity to build a community even beyond our direct followership.

And, because we are a business, we’re simultaneously experimenting with how to deliver messages there on behalf of our 25 sponsors. They need to be messages that we’re proud of, that are useful and relevant, and that are labeled transparently but in a way that isn’t jarring.

We even find ourselves preparing traditional story boards as we produce our Instagram Stories, re-examining yet again how to best make use of short(er)-form narrative.

Video clips are integrated with stills, one-liners of text are sprinkled with emoji — the end product feels casual, conversational, and often downright silly. But if we as Instagram users are spending an average of 24 to 32 minutes watching Stories, then we as producers have to treat them as what they are — the new TV.

Is making news content appealing in a Story format a challenge? Absolutely. But the window of opportunity is short, as Story-watching habits are being cemented and loyalties developed right now. It will be well worth the time for any media organization to create content worthy of the platform’s new, dominant role in American life.

Cristina Wilson is the chief operating officer of Charlotte Agenda.

Eric Ulken   The year local publishers get smart(er) about change

Dan Newman   A return to trust

S. Mitra Kalita   The arc of news and audience

Umbreen Bhatti   The trust problem isn’t new

Alastair Coote   The year of self-improvement

Sally Lehrman   Trust comes first

Tamar Charney   We get serious about algorithms

Jessica Parker Gilbert   Design connects storytelling and strategy

Frédéric Filloux   External forces

Brian Lam   Sketchy ethics around product reviews

Miguel Castro   The arrival of the impact producer

Nancy Watzman   Know thy TV

Matt Thompson   Here come the attention managers

Feli Sánchez   The year for guerrilla user research

Luke O'Neil   The end is already here

Evie Nagy   Pivot to mobile video frustration

Jesse Holcomb   Information disorder, coming to a congressional district near you

Alice Antheaume   Are you fluent in AI?

Mandy Velez   texting is lit rn, fam

Pete Brown   Push alerts, personalized

Edward Roussel   Eyes, ears, and brains

Doris Truong   Computer vision vs. the Internet vigilantes

Andrew Losowsky   The year of resilience

Andrew Haeg   The year journalists become relationship builders

Daniel Trielli   The rich get richer, the poor scramble

Nicholas Quah   Stop talking trash about young people

Craig Newmark   Working together toward sustainable solutions

Vanessa K. DeLuca   Women’s voices take center stage

Joyce Barnathan   It will be harder to bury the news

Almar Latour   Conquering calm

Ray Soto   VR reaches the next level

Yvonne Leow   The rise of video messaging

Charo Henríquez   Training is an investment, not an expense

Jassim Ahmad   Thriving on change

Basile Simon   We need better career paths for news nerds

Monika Bauerlein   The firehose of falsehood

Pia Frey   Address users as individuals

Kathleen McElroy   Building a news video experience native to mobile

John Keefe   Scooped by AI

Millie Tran and Stine Bauer Dahlberg   (Hint: It’s about your brand)

Lanre Akinola   Making noise is not a strategy

Mario García   Storytelling finally adapts to mobile

Rodney Benson   Better, less read, and less trusted

Niketa Patel   Live journalism comes of age

An Xiao Mina   Memes and visuals come to the fore

Mary Meehan   Real lives are at stake in rural areas

Monique Judge   Letting black women tell their own stories

Molly de Aguiar   Good journalism won’t be enough

Francesco Marconi   The year of machine-to-machine journalism

Susie Banikarim   R.I.P. Pivot to Video (2017–2017)

Ståle Grut   Reclaiming audience interaction from social networks

Caitria O'Neill   The new court of public opinion

Christopher Meighan   Passive partnership is in the rearview

Kim Fox   Audience teams diversify their approach

Mira Lowe   The year of the local watchdog

Neha Gandhi   Filler killers

Corey Ford   The empire strikes back

Jim Brady   With the people, not just of the people

Laura E. Davis   Writing answers before you know the question

Richard J. Tofel   The platforms’ power demands more reporters’ attention

Nikki Usher   The year of The Washington Post

Burt Herman   Things get real

Sara M. Watson   Feeds will open up to new user-determined filters

Kelsey Proud   No, no, no

Mike Caulfield   Refactoring media literacy for the networked age

Jamie Mottram   From pageviews to t-shirts

Joanne Lipman   Journalists inventing revenue streams

Raju Narisetti   Mirror, mirror on the wall

Errin Haines Whack   At the ballot, it’s time to count black women

Cindy Royal   Your journalism curriculum is obsolete

Jacqui Cheng   Retailers move into content

José Zamora   Revenue-first journalism

Andrew Ramsammy   The year ownership mattered

Lam Thuy Vo   Breaking free from the tyranny of the loudest

Mariana Moura Santos   Think local, act global

Nicholas Diakopoulos   Fortifying social media from automated inauthenticity

Nathalie Malinarich   Peak push

Juliette De Maeyer   A responsible press criticism

Federica Cherubini   The rise of bridge roles in news organizations

David Skok   Finding an information-life balance

Kyle Ellis   Let’s build our way out of this

Corey Johnson   The pro-fact resistance

Heather Bryant   Building the ecosystems for collaboration

Emma Carew Grovum   Newsroom culture becomes a priority

Rachel Schallom   Better design helps differentiate opinion and news

Julia Beizer   A longer view on the pivot

Will Sommer   The year local media gets conservative

Trushar Barot   The Jio-fication of India

Betsy O'Donovan and Melody Kramer   Skepticism and narcissism

Matt DeRienzo   A recession, then a collapse

Michelle Garcia   Navigating journalistic transparency

Marcela Donini and Thiago Herdy   Collaboration is the way forward for Brazilian journalism

Dheerja Kaur   Fun with subscription products

Tracie Powell   The muting of underserved voices

Cory Haik   Suffering from realness, pivoting to impact

Julia B. Chan   Looking for loyalty in all the right places

Amy Webb   Listen to weak signals

Caitlin Thompson   Podcasting models mature and diversify

Bill Keller   A growing turn to philanthropy

Jennifer Choi   Standing up for us and for each other

Debra Adams Simmons   And a woman shall lead them

Rubina Madan Fillion   Unlocking the potential of AI

Aron Pilhofer   We can’t leave the business to the business side any more

Sam Sanders   Shine the light on ourselves

Jennifer Coogan   The future is female

Alexios Mantzarlis   Moving fake news research out of the lab

Lucas Graves   From algorithms to institutions

Elizabeth Jensen   Show your work

Cristina Wilson   The year of the Instagram Story

Sydette Harry   Listen to your corner and watch for the hook

Hannah Cassius   The year of the echo-chamber escapists

P. Kim Bui   The reckoning is only beginning

C.W. Anderson   The social media apocalypse

Tanya Cordrey   Finally, the seeds of radical reinvention

Matt Carlson   Attacks on the press will get worse

Pablo Boczkowski   The rise of skeptical reading

Amie Ferris-Rotman   More female reporters abroad (please)

Kristen Muller   The year of the voter

Manoush Zomorodi   Self-help as a publishing strategy

Alfred Hermida   Going beyond mobile-first

Valérie Bélair-Gagnon   Seeking trust in fragmented spaces

Paul Ford   Go global

Vivian Schiller   Pivot to tomorrow

Zizi Papacharissi   Women come back

Ernst-Jan Pfauth   Publishing less to give readers more

Mary Walter-Brown   Show a little vulnerability

Rodney Gibbs   Tech workers turn to journalism

Ruth Palmer   Risks will grow for news subjects — especially minorities

Tim Carmody   Watch out for Spotify

Felix Salmon   Covering bitcoin while owning bitcoin

Helen Havlak   Keywords, not publishers, power the world’s biggest feeds

Damon Krukowski   Reviving the alt-weekly soul

Steve Grove   The midterms are an opportunity

Kinsey Wilson   Facebook and Google: Help out or pay up

Mi-Ai Parrish   Blockchain and trust

L. Gordon Crovitz   Serving readers over advertisers

Renée Kaplan   The year of quiet adjustments (shhh)

Alan Soon   The rise of start of psychographic, micro-targeted media

Dan Shanoff   You down with OTT? (Yeah, DTC)

Jarrod Dicker   Honesty in advertising

Taylor Lorenz   Social and media will split

Hossein Derakhshan   Television has won

Carrie Brown-Smith   Transparency finally takes off

Ariana Tobin   Too tired to tap

Dannagal G. Young   Stop covering politics as a game

Sue Schardt   Jump the niche

Jennifer Brandel and Mónica Guzmán   The editorial meeting of the future

Adam Thomas   Sharing is caring: The year of the mentor

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen   The Snapchat scenario and the risk of more closed platforms

Amy King   Let’s amplify visual voice

Usha Sahay   Wallets get opened

Rick Berke   Value is the watchword

Michael Kuntz   The only pivot that might work

Jim Moroney   Newspapers have to be good enough for readers to pay for

Joanne McNeil   Gatekeeping the gatekeepers

Marie Gilot   No assholes allowed

Rachel Davis Mersey   AI, with real smarts

Borja Echevarría   TV goes digital, digital goes TV

Jake Levine   The return to now

Kawandeep Virdee   Zines had it right all along

Carlos Martínez de la Serna   The new journalism commons

Claire Wardle   Disinformation gets worse

Emily Goligoski   Looking beyond news for inspiration

Nushin Rashidian   Publishers seek ad dollar alternatives

Jared Newman   Venture funding and digital news don’t mix

Sam Ford   The year of investing in processes

Sarah Marshall   Loyalty as the key performance indicator

Tanzina Vega   It’s time for media companies to #PassTheMic

Juleyka Lantigua-Williams   Women of color will reclaim and monetize our time

Justin Kosslyn   The year journalists become digital security experts

Imaeyen Ibanga   Longform video leads the way

Raney Aronson-Rath   Transparency is the antidote to fake news

Eric Nuzum   Beyond the narrative arc

Mariano Blejman   News games rule

Michelle Ferrier   The year of the great reckoning

Matt Boggie   The intellectual equivalent of the Dead Sea