How personal stories ruled International Women’s Day on Instagram

March 9, 2017

Written by NewsWhip

How did people react to International Women’s Day this year, compared to years past? We look at the changes on social media, and how native content played out on Instagram.

Yesterday was International Women’s Day and here in the NewsWhip office, we had some very fetching pins to celebrate the ladies of NewsWhip

Of course, our festive pins made us immediately want to know what the conversation around International Women’s Day looked like on social media. Using NewsWhip Spike, we dove into the past week to discover the most recent and engaging stories.

One immediate takeaway we found was that 2017 is driving more Facebook engagements on content than in previous years. The top ten stories of 2017 have seen more engagements than the top ten stories of 2016 and 2015.

This may increase, as 2017’s numbers are based on content posted as recently as today. Over the course of the next few days, more engagements will likely accrue, making this difference between 2017 and the past two years even more startling.

With last year’s suggestion that social engagements for publishers could be falling, this is a reassuring find. It also suggests that there are certain topics that audiences are resonating strongly with right now. Publishers can succeed by reporting on these topics in a way that delivers value to their readers.

Let’s look closer at that content. Have the stories themselves shifted since 2015?

Here are the top ten engaging stories around International Women’s Day so far. Using NewsWhip Spike, we can surface the stories that are pushing the needle right now across social media. We can analyze the story trends and tactics that are resonating the most with readers now.

The top engaging stories really emphasize the “international” in International Women’s Day. Several of the top stories focused on how people are recognizing and responding to Women’s Day across the world. Two of the top ten articles so far were about the day in India. Others touched upon events in Iceland, Canada, and Italy.

As to be expected, a few were politically focused. These stories concentrated on the women’s strike in the U.S., and how the First Lady and Former First Lady of the U.S. were spending the day.

Let’s now get in our time machine, NewsWhip Analytics. We can tap Analytics’ three years of historical data to explore what the top headlines looked like in 2016 and 2015. Were the same topics as successful on social media? Or did other angles catch readers’ attention more?

In 2016, the top engaging headline on Facebook was a satirical article about the treatment of women in Saudi Arabia. There were also some tongue-in-cheek stories about explaining International Women’s Day for men.

These stories are generally more lighthearted than what we’ve seen for this year. What if we set our time machine for 2015?

Going back another year, we see more stories we would expect for annual observances. There are celebrities like Emma Watson advocating for women’s rights, stories of inspiring women through history, and how other countries are joining in, including India again. 

Looking at 2015 to now, the top ten stories around International Women’s Day appear to have more variation in 2017. This year’s top stories seemed to focus more on current events, while 2016 and 2015 saw softer news driving more engagement.

Instagram shows Personal Stories Matter

What did International Women’s Day look like for native content? We again turned to Spike to drill down into International Women’s Day on Instagram.

Celebrities and influencers ruled the day, accounting for the top posts on the platform. Six of the top 15 Instagram posts came from Emma Watson alone, while others came from David Beckham, Demi Lovato, Ellen Degeneres and more.

As for publishers, many followed influencers’ leads by getting up front and personal. Publishers like National Geographic, CNN, and the Economist featured anecdotes of extraordinary women from around the world.

Top Instagram posts from nine publishers: National Geographic, BBC News, CNN, Vice, The Economist, Time, the Guardian, Reuters, and the Washington Post.

Others focused on current events of the day, such as Melbourne changing its travel signals to look like women, women protesting in Dublin, and other protesters being arrested in New YorkStill, the photos here tended to focus on individuals, speaking to human emotion.

Participation from Brands

We’ve seen activism from more and more brands over the past year, and International Women’s Day showed a continuation of that trend.  

The top Instagram post from National Geographic was actually sponsored by Microsoft, showing that brands are participating through branded or partnered content opportunities. This allows brands to reach a bigger audience, while delivering a message on an issue relevant to their audience.

Beyond branded posts, many brands directly shared their own content as well. GoPro posted several photos on Instagram for International Women’s Day. 

Again, like we saw for publishers and influencers, sharing personal quotes and anecdotes worked extremely well on the platform. The above post from GoPro drove over 245,000 likes. Other brands like Dior, TopShop, and Mac Cosmetics also saw significant engagements. These brands already have substantial success on Instagram regularly.

However there was participation across several niches, with EventBrite (B2B), Citi (finance), and Greenpeace (nonprofit) among the brands who joined in.

What to Know

What can International Women’s Day teach content creators and storytellers? There are a few key takeaways from the immediate response on social.

1. Topics like International Women’s Day are driving more engagements than in years past. Harder news angles are resonating more strongly with readers than more lighthearted, ‘fluff’ pieces

2. Influencers and celebrities are taking an active role in such events, leading to more awareness from their followers, and engagement opportunities for other publishers and brands joining in

3. Brands are seeing engagements from participating as well. This allows brands to humanize, and show they care about the same topics that their readers do

With this in mind, you can keep an eye to upcoming observances or holidays, and how there might be engaging angles that are current and relevant. You can also consider the human elements of the day, and what sort of personal stories can be derived. And of course, keeping an eye on what people are reacting to right now is always key to knowing what will catch your readers’ attention.

Explore the topics that audiences care about. Check out the most viral trends in social media on Spike

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