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What’s up with all the news photos that make beaches look like Covid hotspots?
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July 9, 2020, 1:57 p.m.
Audience & Social
LINK: www.rjionline.org  ➚   |   Posted by: Sarah Scire   |   July 9, 2020

This summer, 22 college seniors and recent graduates joined local newsrooms as Instagram editors as part of a joint fellowship between the Facebook Journalism Project and the Reynolds Journalism Institute at the Missouri School of Journalism.

Most — if not all — of the fellows are members of the mobile-first Generation Z. Born after 1996, somewhere around three-quarters of Gen Zers use Instagram and 65 percent check the social media app daily. (Facebook, which owns Instagram, comes in a distant fourth with the same age group.) That makes the platform critical for news organizations that want to reach younger readers.

About halfway through the 10-week program, a few of the fellows shared the strategies they’ve seen succeed on the popular video- and photo-sharing platform.

Encourage shares and saves — not just likes and comments

To encourage “deep engagement” actions like saves and shares that bring in new audiences, KQED fellow Alexis Angelini recommended:

Digestible content: Having observed typical Gen Z behavior, Alexis understands many of her peers are seeking bite-sized pieces of information that are easy to consume and just as easy to pull into their own story to share with friends.

Clear call-to-actions: Alexis has been adding direct call-to-action messaging to captions, such as “share this with a friend” or “save this for later.”

Tag related accounts: Leverage tags to help your audience discover accounts that do similar work. People will save your post so they can revisit and explore these related accounts.

Don’t neglect Instagram Stories

Fatoumata Ceesay, stationed at the Chicago Tribune, saw that the Stories feature was growing dusty. She established a daily schedule and revamped the graphics — using the free version of the Mojo app — to give the videos from various Tribune contributors a consistent look.

Try interactive elements and video to boost audience engagement

Birmingham News fellow Olivia Wales and Chicago Defender fellow Ajibola Bodunrin have both experimented with interactive options like weekly quizzes and ending posts with an open-ended question to encourage feedback. Wales suggested reposting the replies as a way of continuing the conversation.

At El Diario New York, fellow Estefania Mitre doubled down on videos.

In her first month on the job, she posted 40x more videos to feed and IGTV than the month previous to her arrival, and views have been up 18x. She’s found that “deep engagement” metrics are higher on video posts compared to static, even when they touch on the same topic. A video about Vanessa Guillén’s disappearance, for example, generated 5x the shares and 2.5x the saves compared to a photo post about the missing soldier. More information is packed into video than can be included in a post, Estefania theorized, which led her to pilot an Instagram Live series dubbed #ElDiarioChats that allows Latinx businesses to tell their own stories about how COVID-19 has affected them.

View this post on Instagram

Madre de #VanessaGuillen demanda justicia,''Que oiga el presidente, por esta causa… ya no va haber jovenes que se inscriban (a la #militar)'' . . 🗣 En sus declaraciones sentencia que ella se encuentra dispuesta a todo por su hija. La voz de una madre que sufre por su hija perdida se escucha por todo el país. . . En las redes sociales las súplicas y la rabia de la madre de Vanessa Guillén se comparten en Facebook, Twitter e Instagram. Y es que la desesperación que se escucha en sus palabras, la impotencia que se refleja en su rostro y el coraje que retumba sobre los micrófonos, son de una madre que a pesar de estar herida lucha con todas sus fuerzas para recuperar a su ser querido. . . 👆🏻 Para más detalles visita @eldiariony link in bio. ________________________ #eldiariony #nyc #findvanessaguillenussoldier #justice #latino #texas #forthood #donaldtrump

A post shared by El Diario Nueva York (@eldiariony) on

Convert your Instagram audience into newsletter subscribers with daily news roundups

The Times-Picayune tasked fellow Elie Levine with finding more subscribers for their newsletters through Instagram. Levine tried a weekly headline roundup (using Stories, which disappear after 24 hours) that asked readers to submit their email address to receive the story that went along with the headline. The strategy doubled the subscription rate and she soon made it a daily feature.

Over at 100 Days in Appalachia, Diana Riojas, mixes photos, audio, and video in regular carousel posts — in the Instagram feed itself — to direct followers to a link that prompts them to sign up for the paper’s newsletter.

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