While beauty and fashion publishers have opted for highly polished, aspirational visual content on Instagram, Hearst title Cosmopolitan UK decided a year ago to change its strategy on the platform to focus on posting more funny, shareable content.

This approach appears to be paying off, with Cosmopolitan UK, which has 330,000 Instagram followers, growing its Instagram following by 31 percent between the end of 2016 and the end of 2017, according to the publisher. The amount of content it publishes on Instagram has increased, too; it posted 130 times in February, up from 70 posts last September, according to Socialbakers data. Interactions — likes and comments — on the posts also doubled from 20,000 a month to nearly 40,000 between March 2017 and March 2018, according to Socialbakers.

Cosmopolitan UK said it is still honing its content on Instagram. It focuses on celebrity news, beauty reviews, like galleries on how to apply makeup, as well as recipe videos, shareable memes and lifestyle and health care topics, including mental health, politics, people’s experiences dealing with chronic illnesses and coming-out stories. Between March 2017 and March 2018, nearly 60 percent of its Instagram posts were photos and 40 percent were videos, per Socialbakers.

“Cosmopolitan is known for being a fun, insightful friend,” said Claire Hodgson, Cosmopolitan UK’s digital editor, adding that despite the title’s colloquial tone, there’s a growing appetite for more serious content on Instagram and in its articles.

Instagram Stories is growing as a referral traffic source for Cosmopolitan UK. The publisher aims to post between six and 10 Instagram Stories clips a day with the option of swiping up to read more.

In some cases, Instagram Stories drives more initial referral traffic for Cosmopolitan UK than Facebook does, though Facebook, where the publisher has 2.3 million followers, is its largest social platform in terms of followers and traffic referrals. For example, when celebrity Kylie Jenner gave birth at the beginning of February — after Facebook announced its news feed would deprioritize publisher content — Cosmopolitan UK posted about it on Facebook and on Instagram Stories. Within the first 45 minutes, Facebook accounted for around 30 percent of traffic to the page compared to around 60 percent for Instagram Stories. Ultimately, Instagram makes up a small slice of the pie, but, nevertheless, Hodgson said, “Instagram is the place where breaking news and viral content can really flourish.”

Other publishers are also experimenting with Instagram to drive traffic. Condé Nast Britain’s fashion title Glamour UK has increased Instagram referral traffic by 25 percent since Jan. 1, according to the publisher. BBC News, meanwhile, is using Instagram Stories to guide people to sign up to its newsletter.

“Instagram Stories can really pay off as a referral tool,” Hodgson said. “Previously, we were using it more as a branding platform.”

Image: Cosmopolitan UK via Facebook

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