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Special Project

Special Project
From the 12th Annual Shorty Awards

Great Big Story

Winner in Instagram Presence


As a video-based storytelling brand, our goal on Instagram was to not only expand our reach, but to firmly establish ourselves as a unique generator of original, premium content, optimized for the platform. To do this, we spent 2019 revisiting our catalog of videos and re-cutting stories to optimize our feed. By editing our videos into bite-sized treats for our audience, always ensuring that we showed the complete story rather than teasers or snippets, we grew our followers by 69% in 2019. Additionally, we used a suite of Instagram tools and products, from polls in Instagram Stories to IGTV to boost our overall engagement.

Strategy and Execution

In 2019, we identified and recut hundreds of videos from our catalog (over 2000+ videos) to best suit the platform. We added captions to all of our video posts for easier and accessible viewing. We evolved from posting mainly short clips from our videos to sharing “complete” stories, ensuring our audience spent more time with our account on the platform. Because of this, all of our video posts on our grid exceeded 30 seconds long and became reimagined, independent versions of our Facebook or YouTube cuts. We monitored stats and metrics to determine what kinds of content our audience responded to most passionately, and we increased our post cadence.

Beyond the grid, we focused efforts on Instagram Stories, serializing a program called “Field Notes,” in which our globe-trotting producers gave behind-the-scenes snapshots of their travels. We utilized polls and other stickers to boost engagement and make our producers more accessible to the audience.

In November and December 2019, we refocused our efforts on IGTV. During those two months, we posted, on average, five IGTVs a week. During this time period alone, we gained 8.58 million IGTV views. Overall, we garnered 9.6 million IGTV views in 2019.

Finally, we experimented with new content types and strategic partnerships on Instagram. By the end of the year, we started diversifying our Instagram grid with custom quote cards and curated UGC from photographers. We also partnered with our parent company, CNN, to share content on their main account and point back to us when it made sense. Overall, the investment we made in 2019 has given us new momentum in 2020. Instagram continues to be our fastest-growing social media platform.


Since we focused on creating content with Instagram’s platform in mind, we have seen so many great successes, from new followers to more engaged posts. We gained 194,627 followers in 2019, which is a 69% Year-over-Year follower growth. We had 9.6M IGTV views (nearly 9 million alone were in November and December, when we upped our IGTV post cadence). We had a YoY growth of +633% total views (regular videos and IGTV) from 2018. We broke many of our records in 2019, too, gaining some of our best performing videos, IGTVs and photo posts since the creation of Great Big Story’s Instagram. More importantly, we’ve seen an increase in meaningful conversations and engagement on our posts, too. Our followers tell us how much they appreciate our uplifting, awe-inspiring stories that they can’t find anywhere else on Instagram.


Entrant Company / Organization Name

Great Big Story


Entry Credits