By August 2014 The Economist had a strong following on Twitter (5.7 million) and Facebook (4.4 million), but had zero presence on Instagram. Recognising that the social media site was growing at a rapid rate of 23% to 200 million users and that 39% of its audience was under 24 years old, we saw this as an opportunity to:
(1) reach a young and growing audience;
(2) drive awareness of The Economist's content and brand in a different way, as most of our content is text-rich. Apart from our award-winning covers, we were not well known for engaging users with pictures or imagery up to this point.
To engage a young audience with Economist content in a different way, we decided to make our Instagram channel a place where (1) you could get an "inside-look" into a brand that is known for its lack of bylines and for its anonymous journalists; (2) express our journalism in picture format.
While our covers would typically get a lot of attention, they would always be accompanied by a written piece. Instagram allows us to tell a news story without text.
For the last year and a half that we have been running on Instagram we have posted the following to meet our objectives and capitalise on our strategy:
1- Pictures accompanying our biggest and most pressing articles that week;
2- Pictures of places where our journalists are on location;
3- Brand creative from live marketing campaigns that our audience will find interesting;
4- Economist covers - present and relevant past ones;
5- Inspirational quotes from public figures that are covered in The Economist that week;
6- Pictures of our fans (or sometimes their children and pets) holding that week's Economist in interesting poses or in different locations with the hashtag #myeconomist;
7 - Our visually engaging charts, which often tell compelling stories with very few words;
8- Short video clips from Economist Films documentaries;
9- Kal's (political) cartoons;
Each week our social media team will post on average about 4 pictures per day, making sure it is a mix of the above posts.
Since mid-2014, we've grown our audience to 388,000 followers on Instagram from 0. That following was generated from 2,235 posts.
We have and are continuing to meet our original objective of bringing a brand created in 1843 to a younger generation through digital and social engagement.