Inspired by the rise of mobile and tablet viewership, the BBC is experimenting with a new initiative on Instagram called Instafax, where news clips are featured in 15-second video formats. From the content created, to the positioning and community involvement, the effort is both interesting and noteworthy for both companies and news outlets.
Announced on January 16, Instafax is the new media extension of the BBC News’s former teletext service Ceefax, which was phased out in 2012. Instafax follows the BBC News’s December 2013 announcement that desktop viewership of news coverage was overtaken by mobile and tablet users.
Clearly branded as an experiment, the BBC News will spend one month producing three 15-second Instagram videos per day in an effort to deliver topline news coverage to mobile and tablet users. The first videos were shared on January 16 and have been on a variety of topics, from stem cell breakthroughs, to Airbnb, China’s Moon Rover, protests in Kiev, and more. The BBC News also seems to be experimenting with a mix of single and roundup stories focused on the top headlines of the day.
Also subject to experimentation throughout the month are things like the need for sound and text, plus the best imagery and video snippets to use. In order to make the videos the most engaging and effective to its target audience, the BBC News is turning to its community in real-time to listen and respond to their feedback. Look closely at the Instafax video comments on Instagram and you’ll see the BBC News team thanking and transparently responding to users. From praising users for good ideas, to explaining Instagram features like the inability to link in posts, the team is doing a great job getting its community involved in the initiative.
At present, the Instafax videos are only being shared on the BBC News Instagram account, but it seems like the experimental nature of the campaign could warrant occasionally testing the roundup content on Facebook, where mobile and tablet use is also high.
What companies can learn from the BBC News Instafax trial:
- Test and Learn: It’s hard not to get caught up in today’s social media culture of feeling like every campaign has to launch and instantly become a success. Don’t be afraid to position something as an experiment. Start-ups are famous for this, but big brands are also starting to showcase their commitment to innovation by doing the same thing.
- Be Transparent: Transparency is key when publicly testing a new initiative. If you’re going to go the test and learn route, your company needs to be prepared to showcase results and learnings (within reason).
- Own Successes and Failures: There’s always a chance that the experiment may not be successful, but remember – it’s not a failure if you learn something. Focus internal and external communications around learning’s and how they will translate into future efforts and you’ll inspire others along the way.
- Get Your Community Involved: Set your experiment up for success by rallying your community around the initiative. Have your community offer suggestions of ways to improve and offer tips on what else they would like to see from your company. The more involved your community is, the more invested they will be in making the campaign successful.
Do you think the BBC News’s Instafax experiment will be successful? Leave a comment below!