CNN launches Instagram account on climate to appeal to young voters

On April 22, CNN launched a new Instagram account related to the day’s holiday, Earth Day. The account, focused on climate, follows CNN’s strategy of managing other social accounts dedicated to specific issues.

Why climate? Unlike the other accounts, CNN’s homepage does not have section dedicated to climate change — at least not yet. But CNN had launched the account already knowing its audience, especially younger readers, were interested in content about climate, said Ashley Codianni, CNN’s executive producer of social and emerging media. Sixty percent of followers on their main Instagram account, which has 7.5 million followers, are under the age of 34, said spokesperson Emily Kuhn.

“We don’t have the same level of data from Instagram on the climate account right now since it’s so new, but it’s safe to assume it’s a young audience, and certainly doesn’t skew older than the main page,” Kuhn said.

During the 2018 midterms, CNN launched a series called “Why I Vote” and found that climate change and global warming were the two top policy issues of younger voters. And where does CNN reach young voters? Instagram, Codianni said.

“To communicate and educate young people, we go to Instagram. We saw all these young people in the campaign talking about climate change and knowing our audience is on Instagram, [launching this account] just seemed natural,” Codianni said.

CNN maintains five Instagram accounts dedicated to specific content verticals beyond the main account. CNN manages accounts for Business, Travel, Style and Politics, all of which collectively have 1.9 million followers. (CNN also has Instagram accounts for public relations, for careers and for special events.)

Codianni said her team identified high engagement on climate stories on their other channels prior to launching a climate-focused account. But they saw a gap in coverage exclusively on climate on Instagram. Since last month’s launch, the account has gained nearly 50,000 followers.

CNN doesn’t have a strict content strategy for the account, similar to the rest of its social channels. The company’s social team pays attention to notable events or headlines on CNN, which they can then repackage into quotes cards, short videos or images. The account has posted 43 times to its feed over the last 24 days. CNN has only shared one IGTV post, Instagram’s hub for long-form video, from the climate account, so far.

“The frequency of posting varies day to day, varies on news cycle, but the formula with Instagram is understanding our audience, delivering breaking news when necessary and being mindful of what’s resonating and what’s not,” Codianni said.

To evaluate the success of its posts, Codianni said the social team looks most closely at the number of shares rather than likes or views. While it’s difficult to directly attribute where the account’s followers are coming from, boosts in followers do correlate with posts that are shared via Instagram’s internal direct messaging tool, Codianni said.

“Shares is the valuable metric. Not only did the post draw a reaction, but it made someone want to share it with their friends,” Codianni said. “We found a dedicated and engaged audience on an issue that’s important to them. When I think about policy, climate will be a big issue in 2020 and in the years ahead.”

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