Al Jazeera’s Instagram platform, @AlJazeeraEnglish, broke all previous records in 2021 doing what it does best — elevating the voices of people living at the heart of global news events and finding new and impactful ways of visually representing the stories that are shaping our world. Despite an ongoing pandemic, people on every continent turned to us for our award-winning global news and current events coverage — and we capped off the year with 2.3 million followers, representing a 28% increase to our audience base.
This growth resulted in part from our quick adaptation of Instagram’s latest tools. Story features, reels and collabs inspired us to find new ways of presenting video reports from news agencies, even as we expanded coverage from our award-winning global correspondents and further strengthened our objective of keeping @AlJazeeraEnglish up to date - all best practices which affirmed our identity as a hub for first-rate news and current affairs coverage.
Our strategy, as always, has been to grow brand recognition and deepen engagement with our existing audience, resulting in new followers.
We remained true to our ethos of putting people first and covering hard hitting and inspirational stories about those living at the heart of global news events - all which connected people and further stimulated discussion and inquiry.
To expand reach, we made use of platform features such as reels, creator collabs and sticker features in stories — and we increased our video production by 20%. We discovered that short, fast-paced videos, on average, perform better than slow/long-form videos and that our digital native content is meaningfully reaching our audience base and matching up with their preferred format of content consumption.
This especially paid off in our coverage of the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan and Israel’s assault on Gaza — our coverage of these events helped us attract more than 314,000 followers, combined. Beyond our focus on the Global South, we worked to cover all aspects of the pandemic, from lockdowns and the temporary easing of restrictions to Covid variants and (at times) the fraught politics of whether to vaccinate, or not. We covered the US Capitol riots, extreme weather events, a coup and its deadly aftermath in Myanmar, Haitian migrants stuck at the US-Mexico border and the Israeli army’s launch of a large-scale military attack on the Gaza Strip and the Palestinians.
Through it all, we continued in our trademark use of slides and photos to convey useful information. As always, we did this with a keen editorial eye firmly trained on how to elevate the conversation and highlight the lives of people caught up in the news.
@AlJazeeraEnglish’s strategy, very simply, is to use every available resource and tool to tell some of the world’s biggest stories in a meaningful, engaging and human-centered way. Our expanded reach and engagement connected us more deeply with our followers. This encouraged us and confirmed that we’re on the right track.
2021 Wins: Our highest monthly growth took place during the Gaza war (Palestine/Israel conflict) coverage with an increase of 200K followers. Our second highest month was in August with our coverage of breaking events in Afghanistan, resulting in a monthly gain of 114K followers. We saw a total reach of 6M on August 17th alone and worked to continuously bridge the gap between male/female followers.