When it comes to social media platforms, one of the least revenue friendly is Instagram. Unlike Facebook, YouTube and Twitter where companies can embed links and even monetize their content, Instagram is a stripped down social media platform that only allows the sharing of pictures. When it comes to newspapers that are struggling to generate revenue, Instagram does not sound very appetizing. But there are some newspapers that are learning to use Instagram in ways that add readers and, as a result, add revenue as well.
According to Digiday.com, the New York Times' fashion section has 400,000 followers for its Instagram account and the Times posts pictures of catwalk photos and new fashions that have become extremely popular. The benefit here is that the Times, and any newspaper, gets to put up pictures it would not normally publish to help generate a niche audience that tends to be much more loyal.
The Times can publish exclusive fashion pictures without using any of its online or print real estate and still grow its audience. It is actually a very clever way for newspapers to utilize the volumes of pictures they get to expand their coverage without giving up any space on their prime pages.
Telling Even More Stories
If a picture is indeed worth 1,000 words, then Instagram should be a goldmine for any newspaper looking to gain readers. According to the American Journalism Review, Instagram gives newspapers the chance to do photo editorials and stories that appeal to a smaller audience, but still hold value for the newspaper as a whole. A pictorial about Mike Tyson's abandoned home is just one way for USA Today to offer news stories that no other outlet offers without the need to go through a laborious editorial process.
Instagram Is Just Easier
The Los Angeles Times has an Instagram account that only has 1,500 followers, but the Los Angeles Times is also a newspaper that is struggling to stay alive in an increasingly competitive industry. With Instagram, smaller media outlets in Los Angeles can post red carpet pictures and exclusive images before the Los Angeles Times quickly and get the jump on the media giant. While Instagram may not be a revenue juggernaut, it is still an easy way for one newspaper to upstage another, even if the newspaper being upstaged was one of the largest in the country.
Instagram does not offer an easy challenge for larger newspapers that are adjusting to the Internet and social media because Instagram is so self-contained. It is difficult for images to go viral on Instagram and even more difficult for a newspaper to tie its Instagram account into the rest of its social media strategy. But, at the same time, newspapers around the world know that Instagram offers a unique opportunity to bring an audience images it cannot get anywhere else. The newspapers that really know how to tell a story are finding uses for Instagram and that does not bode well for the rest.