For streetwear and lifestyle publisher Highsnobiety, the benefits of growing on Instagram have made up for any losses it felt in referral traffic from Facebook’s algorithm changes. What’s more, Instagram is driving the most revenue through branded content, according to the publisher.
Simply directing people back to Highsnobiety via its Instagram bio over the last six weeks has boosted referral traffic by 400 percent. The publisher wouldn’t share exact figures, but with little referral traffic action before, it’s likely this is from a small base. Instagram now accounts for 10 percent of the site’s social traffic, up from 2 percent at the beginning of the year.
“It’s become clear in the last six months that Instagram is the most important channel outside of Highsnobiety,” said Brock Cardiner, editorial director, Europe. “We’ve adapted the content strategy to prioritize increasing engagement and followers there as opposed to other platforms.”
Highsnobiety has five people dedicated to Instagram, and in total 12 have a hand in creating for the platform along with other social content duties, up from three and 10, respectively, the year before. In the next two weeks, the Berlin-and New York-based publisher is hiring an additional in-house social media graphics editor to increase the amount of original content, mostly illustrations and captions over clips, which stands at about 10 of the daily 30 posts that it publishes on Instagram. The main account — it has four vertical offshoots — has 2.2 million followers, up from 1.7 million a year ago, according to Social Blade. On Facebook, it has 2.4 million followers.
For the last month, Highsnobiety has taken a more controlled approach to testing what impact content changes have on driving audience interactions. Each week it focuses on changing one element, like posting more video, experimenting with hashtags, changing the aesthetic or adding geotags.
“It’s combining high-frequency distribution with high-quality creative,” said Alexei Edwards, head of social at Tribal Worldwide. “The well-crafted copywriting is also something that shouldn’t be forgotten about. It’s something brands tend to neglect across their communications on Instagram.”
Breaking news and topical news also do well on the platform, said Cardiner. “We used to think Instagram was complementary to our site rather than its own platform; now we put news up on Instagram before anywhere else. Partners are interested in having news like sneaker leaks or product drops up on Instagram.”
Highsnobiety plans to create more video specific to the platform. Currently, 15 percent of its posts are video, according to SocialBakers. The publisher found on average fewer comments, likes and shares on Highsnobiety’s video posts, but video has 20 percent greater reach through Instagram’s algorithm favoring video. A higher likelihood of featuring on Instagram’s explore tab means video is a prime vehicle for growing new audiences.
In May, Highsnobiety has 6.2 million video views on Instagram and 1.6 million Facebook video views, according to Tubular Labs. In April, it had 5 million on Instagram and 4.2 million on Facebook, per Tubular. Although it’s only posting just one less video a day on Facebook and instead posting more to Instagram Stories, where videos get several millions of views and a 60 percent completion rate. Highsnobiety’s average completion rate on Facebook news-feed videos is at less than 25 percent.
Out of the platforms, Instagram is Highsnobiety’s strongest revenue driver through branded content, which makes up the majority of Highsnobiety’s total revenue. Instagram distribution complements wider campaigns, and the publisher keeps commercial content to just one a day on the platform, in the feed or as a Story, despite the content disappearing after 24 hours.
“With clients, our site is the first place they want to be. Instagram is always the next place they want to be on,” said Cardiner. “Unanimously, Instagram is what they look for.”