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Publisher hails Instagram boost as reader referrals rise by 500pc

Dan RussellReach plc has hailed the power of Instagram after its websites experienced a 500pc increase in readers via the social network.

Figures released by Reach and CrowdTangle show its 50 regional accounts on the network received a 40pc year-on-year overall increase in followers.

In turn, this led to a 500pc overall increase in readers driven to its online channels via the social media site.

It comes after the publisher experimented with using Instagram Stories, which allows users to share multiple videos and photos, to grow its reach across its regional titles between January 2020 and the corresponding month this year.

The move saw the number of readers accessing the Manchester Evening News via Instagram increase from 75,000 per month to 320,000.

Birmingham Live increased the number of readers accessing its site from Instagram by more than 5,000pc, while Belfast Live, which had 4,000 click-throughs to its website in January 2020, reached approximately 100,000 click-throughs in January 2021.

Reach’s head of social media and engagement Daniel Russell, pictured, said: “The increase in readership to our websites from Instagram Stories has been exceptional.

“We started the strategy in January 2020 and by the end of December, our readers from the platform were up more than 500pc.

“Across all of our accounts, we now reach more than 21 million people who engage positively with our content on Instagram and click through to our websites at an increased rate month after month.”

The strategy was launched in January after 18 months of work, according to Daniel.

He said: “We took the best parts from Manchester Evening News’ design and lifestyle content and looked at what type of stories worked generally across all our portfolios.

“We did this by creating a Google Analytics dashboard which shows us the top performing stories for clicks from across our network and cross-referencing this with interactions.”

Daniel added: “The Liverpool Echo is starting to experiment with Instagram Reels to see the impacts on account growth and Instagram Story reach.

“We have a huge range of quality content which should fit the format, so we are hoping for some good results.”