Inside the Financial Times’ Instagram strategy

Instagram has become a major platform for the Financial Times’ visual content — and it’s now hoping to use Stories to push out more of its charts and graphics.

The publisher boasts 515,000 Instagram followers, up from about 286,000 a year ago, and it’s adding about 5,000 followers a week.

“Instagram was a reach mechanism for us. Then, it kept growing, and now we have an established audience,” said Jake Grovum, U.S. social media editor at the FT.

It’s a play for young people. The social platform attracts a younger demographic, under 34 years old, than the FT’s readership. It’s made a point of using Instagram Stories to push pieces that aren’t behind the paywall.

The idea isn’t necessarily to convert the platform audience into subscribers. “It’s not like we’re opening the paywall. They’re easy to use — we don’t want the audience to copy and paste the link,” said Grovum.

The publisher first thought “lighter” lifestyle content would perform better on Stories, but news content tends to perform better, said Grovum. Information and news on topics like the Federal Reserve have the highest views and engagement, and Grovum’s team tries to build narratives around pieces about hot topics like Brexit or Trump updates. The idea is to tell a story using the Stories format versus static Instagrams. The FT is prioritizing audience responses, and Grovum suggests using questions at the end of Stories to ask for thoughts and comments.

The most attractive thing about Instagram for Grovum is that it isn’t built for shareability — the idea is to use it to connect readers to the brand. “The most you can do is take a screenshot. Branding is not a concern because sharing of content is not possible in the way you can share on Facebook,” said Grovum.

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