In 2019, we wanted to develop Pitchfork’s Instagram as an editorial platform of its own, providing a Pitchfork experience to new and loyal readers that they wouldn’t be able to find anywhere else. As our website covers breaking music news, album reviews, live events, and more, it was important for us to create a presence on Instagram that captured all of these elements while remaining cohesive, original, accessible, and highly engaging to our readers. This meant creating social-first art and design, doubling down on brand aesthetics, making sure our posts are informational and meaningful, being innovative with our use of Instagram tools, and making the most of our relationships with musicians and music festivals.
We have focused heavily on creating social-first art and design to strengthen our platform presence in the past year. The assets for our newly launched cover stories, which featured Charli XCX, Bon Iver, and FKA twigs, were created to be social-first, with exclusive video, stills, and text made specifically for Instagram. During our Best Music of the 2010s retrospective, we made social art that mimicked smartphone behavior, capturing the technological elements that defined the decade and encouraging swipe ups on our Instagram Stories.
Aesthetically, we aim to remain on the cutting edge of visual trends. For our 2019 Instagram strategy, that meant thoughtfully curating a mix of video, unusual portraits, original photography, inventive cover art to invoke the feeling of crate digging, and candid photography – particularly utilizing older photos to feed the nostalgia bug. We developed a partnership with Polaroid that blossomed into a frequent series of lo-fi portraits taken by the social team and an entire aesthetic strategy for Pitchfork Music Festivals in Paris and Chicago.
We launched Instagram-exclusive series, most notably the irreverent reader-favorite “Saturday Morning Cartoons,” which uses experimental animations to highlight articles and videos from the week on IGTV. Our “Pitchfork 5” series on Instagram Stories showcases musicians discussing their five favorite things in quirky categories. Our Instagram Story highlights are a robust library that any music lover could dive into for new music, live experiences, breaking news, and expertly reported features.
To engage our audience even further, we used Instagram’s Q&A story tool to have our editors answer audience questions around tentpole events. Also, in tandem with our music festivals and big lists, we developed custom Instagram Story stickers and gifs for public use. Search “Pitchfork” in your Instagram Story gifs to see our latest creations.
From sophisticated photography to funny, meme-styled IG stories, we aimed to meet our readers on every level while staying true to our unique Pitchfork identity.
We surpassed 12 million impressions on Instagram in the month of October – the highest result in Pitchfork history. Year over year, Instagram referral traffic to our site grew 33% and our follower count grew 18%. Those successes were a reflection of making new, platform-specific editorial that caters to our audience. More importantly, it showed us that we could achieve our mission of making the conversation around music even more engaging.
Our Saturday Morning Cartoon IGTV and story series — while our longest — is also the series with the lowest exit rate. In experience surveys, our readers have specifically mentioned their high satisfaction with Pitchfork’s Instagram presence. Last year, we clocked in our most-liked post of all time, our most-viewed video of all time, and our highest-reaching post of all time. We’ve built up our Instagram to be a growing space for music lovers to learn about new music, discuss our takes, and be part of the conversation.