Each December, we publish a social-only Instagram story that highlights the New York City holiday season attractions, a healthy mix of the classics as well as some off-the-beaten path TPG favorites. Our 2021 edition happened to correspond directly with the peak of the Omicron variant, derailing our plans for our usual feel-good holiday content. With New York rapidly beginning to resemble the desolate scenes of March 2020, we scrapped our original pre-filmed structure and pivoted to inform our followers what exactly it was like on the ground in the Big Apple. We wanted to be one of the first major publications to comprehensively cover New York’s mask rules, COVID-19 closures, and vaccination protocols in light of the rapidly-evolving status of the pandemic. In addition, we also aimed to provide our followers with hope in the form of a curated list of low COVID-19 risk holiday activities that remained open through the Omicron wave.
Our strategy to meet these objectives can be summarized as follows: (1) We did not mince words. We started the Instagram story with the unfortunate and disappointing truth — 2021 would be another year of diluted and revised NYC Christmas traditions. Our second frame included a screenshot-able graphic of high-level COVID-19 protocols and closure and testing trends. Here (as well as the final frame), we also linked to a TPG article that provided followers with the comprehensive status of New York’s latest holiday offerings. (2) We provided utility . From the unfortunate COVID-19 news, we pivoted into a curated list of NYC activities sure to spark the holiday spirit, while avoiding as much infection risk as possible. (3) We provided recommendations through first person. We made sure to put ourselves in the story, both in the tone of the copy and the perspective of photos and videos. All in all, we adopted the persona of the honest but friendly New Yorker — reliably willing to tell it to you like it is but also thrilled to offer some dynamic alternatives that capture the reliance and grandeur of the holidays in the Big Apple.
In total, the Instagram story attracted 327,821 impressions with each frame averaging 18,212 — up 21% from our established 2021 impression benchmark. The story also recorded a 97.5% completion rate, indicating that this information proved both timely and useful to our audience. Where applicable, the story linked to the TPG article “Travelers beware: Your New York Christmas vacation may be derailed by the omicron variant,” which garnered 12,729 pageviews, averaging 0:50 seconds on engaged time on-site. 51% of the article’s traffic came from social media, namely the Instagram story.
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