We’ve produced 5 Instagram Stories over the past few weeks as a way to engage a younger audience on Instagram. I'm going to run through why we decided to do it, how it worked, and what we learned.
What are Instagram Stories?
Instagram Stories are a sequence of photos and videos which disappear after 24 hours. Followers can tap on the right to move forward through a Story, or tap on the left to move back.
You can access the Stories of the people you follow at at the top of your Instagram feed. A red ring appears around their profile photos whenever they add a new story. Unlike ordinary posts, they are not archived on profile pages.
To view someone's story, you can tap on their profile photo and it will appear in full-screen, showing you all the images and videos they've added to it in the last 24 hours, from oldest to newest.
Another key feature to keep in mind is that they are only viewable on mobile. This means photos and videos must be shot in portrait to fit a mobile screen.
Why we’ve started using Stories
Our main objective is to provide an entry point to committee work for a younger audience. However, there are a few things about Stories that are particularly interesting to us.
The interactive nature of Stories - which allow people to tap back and forth, swipe up or down, and take part in polls – means that users play a more active role than simply watching.
Rough and ready
The rough-and-ready feel of Instagram Stories allows us to use lower quality images and videos taken on a mobile phone, which means we can source content more easily and gives a more authentic feel. It also means that producing them is low-cost in terms of time and resources.
We recognised an opportunity to reach out to massive young audience, adopt a more playful tone to communicate the important work committees do. This helps to appeal to a different kind of audience than we're used to reaching.
A young audience
Of UK Parliament's 23,000 followers, 27% are 18 to 24 year olds, and 34% are 25 to 34 - this makes it the largest young audience we have access to on the social channels we run.
How we make them
For each Story we put together we started by identifying an opportunity, such as promoting an inquiry launch or an evidence session. Then a few of us would work together to devise a storyboard on a whiteboard, hashing out what the text and visuals should be.
We then source visual content for each slide by taking photos, videos and boomerangs (looping video clips) with our phones around the office.
Finally, we upload our images and videos to a dummy Instagram account, so that we can see how the final product will look.
When everyone is happy with it, we publish the Story on the UK Parliament Instagram account, and sit back watching the poll results come in!
Our Stories have so far been reaching a significant number of people. They are also viewed on average twice as many times as our videos on Twitter.
The three polls we’ve run so far have had an average of over 1,000 people taking part.
What we’ve learned so far
So far, the analytics have pointed us to three key takeaways.
1. Video content leads to higher audience retention
In Stories where we had images or a solid colour background rather than video content, we had trouble retaining a large portion of the audience through to the end of the Story.
2. Polls consistently produce high levels of engagement
In our last poll on plastic bottles, 1142 people took part and voted. They can be a useful opening hook to pull someone into your Story (when used like a quiz, for example)
3. Clicks on links double when there is a video instead of an image.
We saw a big improvement in click through rates when using video content rather than images in sections of a Story where we have included a link - up to a 50% increase.
We’ll continue to look out for opportunities to promote the work of committees through Stories, in cases where the communications objectives of a committee campaign align with the audience profile on the platform. For example, the content must be of interest to a young audience, have an interactive element and any images or videos sourced for the Story must be in portrait rather than landscape orientation.
Due to the high rate of engagement we’ve had with polls, we’re keen to continue to use this function and explore new possibilities for gathering user feedback on the work of committees.
To stay up to date with what select committees are doing on social media, get notifications when we publish a new post.