Inside football site Goal’s Instagram Stories strategy

Football site Goal is pouring resource into Instagram Stories, having figured out the sweet spot for the right content mix.

ThePerform Media site has grown its overall Instagram base from a few hundred thousand to 1.5 million in the last six months, and had 230,000 video views on the platform last month, according to Tubular Labs. Goal says it is getting about 25,000 views per clip in each Story. A typical Story of 15 clips would generate an average 375,000 views.

The publisher has all but completely ditched its initial approach, which was filming an editor explaining news like football transfers. Since then the team has published roughly 70 stories, all of which are designed to take viewers behind the scenes, whether it’s at the matches themselves or inside the press rooms to which Goal’s correspondents have access.

“When we first started using Instagram Stories last September, we had a very different approach,” said Goal’s head of audience Sam Brown. “The numbers were growing a bit, but since then, we have shifted to doing much more reactive and proper creative work on all Stories content, and so numbers have since grown exponentially.”

Fans at Barcelona’s Camp Nou stadium.

The Champions League is a tournament that works well for Goal. Its reporters in the U.K., France, Germany, Italy and Spain, can pool assets for Instagram Stories. “It’s the time when all the biggest teams are playing, so we can have footage of Dutch fans arriving in Madrid, or Italian fans arriving in Manchester. It works well for us,” added Brown.

On the days when Champions League matches take place, Goal correspondents send images, videos and any text-based material of everything from what’s happening in the build-up to big games outside the stadium to the scene in the stands. All raw assets are sent to Goal’s central team in Leeds, where the head of multimedia and his eight-person team curate which to use, and develop them into narratives for Instagram Stories.

Team line-ups are doled out to reporters before matches.

Sound is kept to a minimum on Stories, to take account for most people viewing with the sound off.

There’s no single rule also for volume of Instagram Stories Goal will create, but focus is very much on quality over quantity. On match days, when there’s a lot of buzz around the forthcoming fixture, the team will create between 15 and 20 clips that form a narrative within a Story format for Instagram. On regular days, three or four Stories will be created throughout the day.

With international reporters sending through assets, often the biggest challenge is curation. And given a dozen Goal reporters from all over Europe, and South America and Brazil too, will send through assets for Instagram Stories simultaneously on Champions League game nights, the Leeds team, made up of eight people, will often be sorting through up to 100 assets within the space of a few hours, to be created into stories.

That said, Goal sees more point in pushing content for Instagram Stories, where it can naturally link its large Facebook following, over Snapchat, which has been the go-to platform for other publishers, according to Brown.

Although Instagram has introduced the ability to link back to other articles and sites, for now Goal views it predominantly as a branding tool, unlike its reach-hungry big brother Facebook. That said, the team is by no means taking massive number hikes at face value. In the last month the Goal team has noticed that Instagram numbers have been plateauing, particularly in sports media sites. “We’re not sure why, whether it’s part of the Facebook dark arts algorithm changes or not,” added Brown. “For now, we’re still growing.”

Image: courtesy of Goal.

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