Is Instagram a Good Medium for Magazine Publishers?

    Fact checked by Vahe Arabian
    Vahe Arabian

    Founder and Editor in Chief of State of Digital Publishing. My vision is to provide digital publishing and media professionals a platform to collaborate and promote their efforts, my passion is to uncover talent and… Read more

    Edited by Vahe Arabian
    Vahe Arabian

    Founder and Editor in Chief of State of Digital Publishing. My vision is to provide digital publishing and media professionals a platform to collaborate and promote their efforts, my passion is to uncover talent and…Read more

    instagram cover

    Paulina Kubala-Chuchnowska holds a position of Marketing Specialist at PressPad Digital Publishing, a company that creates mobile magazine apps, digital newsstands for PDF issues, and...Read more

    Instagram has come a long way from a little photo-sharing app to one of the most popular social media channels in the world. With 1 billion monthly active users, over 25 million business accounts, and a projected 14 billion USD in revenue, it has an enormous marketing potential for many different brands. Does it mean that it is also a good medium for magazine publishers?

    This is Facebook which is the social media behemoth accounts for nearly half of the magazine brand industry active audience. However, according to The Association of Magazine Media’s report Instagram outclasses the competition in terms of the percentage of publishing industry likes/followers and shows the strongest growth in the past three years. What else makes it special is higher users’ authenticity. Instagram is seen as a non-spammy channel because users aren’t allowed to put any links apart from the ones in the profile bio.

    Even if you’ve been already promoting your magazine on social media channels like Facebook, adding Instagram to your online marketing strategy opens up a range of many different possibilities, including reaching out to other types of readers and expanding monetization actions.

    Magazine publishers on Instagram – who are they?

    The photo-sharing platform has become a revelation for different sizes brands to present their products in a condensed and visually interesting form.  

    Stay up to date on the latest news, trends, and best practices in digital publishing.

    It would seem that a social media channel that puts photo art in the first place is great for businesses related to food, fashion, or travel content. These topics have natural visual potential to reach a wide audience. Who of us doesn’t like to look at photos of delicious food, fashionable stylizations, or faraway places from around the world? We can scroll it down without end.

    Is that kind of content really doing well on Instagram? Let’s check it on magazine brand examples.

    Magazines which dominates on Instagram are related to traveling, fashion, architecture, and food (by the way, I encourage you to visit profiles included in the above list, they are really impressive). Interesting is that auto, magazine, fashion, and beauty brands are among the earliest and most frequent adopters of Instagram.

    What about magazines offering different types of content?

    News publishers are doing great on Instagram

    The report prepared by the Association of Magazine Media has found that magazines saw a 6.3% increase in follower growth on Instagram in the second quarter of 2019. 

    A considerable increase is seen in cases of news publications:

    • The Economist was up 13%, 
    • The Atlantic was up 23%, 
    • The New Yorker and Scientific American grew 6%. 

    Moving forward, The Economist affected 3.5 million and The Atlantic increased by 246,000 followers. Important is that these magazines simultaneously reported a slight increase in the number of likes/followers on Facebook and Twitter.

    Niche magazines don’t lag behind

    All the above examples are big publishing names. It’s great to follow them on social media to get inspired. Why not learn from the best? Nevertheless, Instagram is a good place also for niche magazines focused around a smaller audience.

    The key to success is not about winning a big audience, but your niche.

    Among niche magazines’ profiles, Essentials Magazine Australia and Magasinet Norske Hjem definitely deserve attention. The first one is from Melbourne, Australia, provides the latest news and reviews on food, wine, hotels, art, and design trends. The second one is a leading interior magazine name in Norway. Both of them are active and effective in Instagram marketing.

    niche digital magazines on instagram

    Niche magazines are doing great on Instagram: Norske Hjem Magasinet on the left and Essentials Magazine Australia on the right

    What do their Instagram profiles have in common?

    1. They both publish great high-quality photos which are very inspirational and just pretty.
    2. They intertwine this kind of content with presenting their offer: new issues and places you can find it (mobile apps, digital newsstands).
    3. Both profiles are consistent with their individual magazine lines. They look incredibly professional, catch scrollers’ attention, and warm up the brand’s identity.

    What are the benefits of being on Instagram?

    There can be at least several reasons. Above all, what I wrote earlier – this is one of the counting social media platforms and it’s growing. The great base to bring a number of benefits.

    When following magazine brands on Instagram it’s easy to see that they adopt different strategies for being there. Some of them publish inspirational content based on great photos, some publish educational graphs and others use humorous pictures.

    No matter what strategy you choose, if it’s right for your magazine and readers, you can count on a number of benefits. Below are some of them.

    1. Building engagement and brand awareness

    Research by Forrester indicated that Instagram provides engagement for brands 58 times more than Facebook and 120 times more than Twitter. Forrester also compared seven different social networks and in results in six of them brands accomplished an engagement below 0,1 %. while Instagram achieved an engagement level of 4,21%. 

    The first rule to build followers’ engagement is… your engagement. Be responsive and interact with the community: reply to comments, direct messages, follow hashtags that fit your brand. You can build followers’ engagement by mentioning people in your posts: 

    • tag people relevant to your post,
    • tag profiles that you’re reposting content from.

    Instagram meets the users’ expectations in building engagement by offering features like Stories or Instagram Live. 

    2. Going into partnership

    Instagram has a powerful impact on building and improving relationships not only amongst users but also brand communities.

    Work with other people and brands that are related to your niche, collaborate with micro-influencers. Working with the right partners will boost engagement and traffic much more effectively than trying to do it on your own. For example, you can ask for cooperation with someone influential from your niche. It could be just an interview. After the meeting, you can publish something about it on your account (tagging this influencer), and he does the same (tagging you). Both of us have a chance to gain new followers. It’s a win-win deal. That’s why remembering about tagging partners, clients, employees, and people you cooperate with is so important.  

    3. Driving traffic to publisher’s sources

    One of the most important goals of being on different social media channels is to redirect followers to publishers’ sources like websites, blogs, or digital kiosks. Only then can you expect specific actions on their part, such as subscribing to the newsletter or buying a product.

    Instagram doesn’t allow users to share links in posts or comments. To get around this, brands share links in their profile description and bring your attention to it by captioning their publications with “link in bio”. A great example of how to do it well is “Rolling Stone” magazine. They “use every Instagram tool at its disposal to drive traffic to its content, including both stories and regular Instagram posts”. 

    drive traffic thanks to instagram

    Rolling Stone Magazine use Instagram to drive traffic to its content

    4. Monetizing

    If you already had a strong fanbase you can try to monetize thanks to Instagram. Naturally, the more engaged followers you have, the better.  It is considered that with small-but-engaged followings of 1,000 users you have the potential to start making money. 

    According to Shopify guide, you can make money on Instagram by:

    creating sponsored posts for brands that want to get in front of your audience,

    • becoming an affiliate and making a commission selling other brands’ products,
    • creating and selling a physical or digital product or offering a paid service,
    • selling licenses for your photography or videos. 

    Is Instagram good for my magazine?

    A well-maintained and active Instagram account will definitely help you expand your audience. Regardless of whether you bet on an inspirational or educational path make sure that the account is consistent with your magazine line and your followers’ needs.

    If you decide that you are not ready for the expansion of your magazine on this medium, then set up an account and start following other brands. And believe me or not, but Instagram will engage you maximally.




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