Storied Social Success with NCAA

Reach is the holy grail of Instagram Stories. Brands may see a jump in reach for a single story, on a single day, but typically it is a struggle to maintain a consistent upward trajectory.

Top 5 reasons it’s tough to grow on Stories:

  • People must proactively opt in to view Stories.
  • Real estate is limited, with only 5 accounts highlighted by default.
  • The algorithm for Stories can make brands hard to find, even when viewers are looking for them.
  • Compelling Stories drive viewership, but as with any new medium, budgets may not allow for the investment to develop content.
  • Analytics are key to knowing what works, but this data is not readily available in the native app or on the web so it’s tedious to compile data that would allow learnings from experience.

So, what is the best way to grow? This topic was tackled in-depth during the recent Front Office Sports webinar “Winning Strategies for Increasing Engagement on IG Stories.” According to Chris Dion, Associate Director of Digital and Social Media at the NCAA, it all starts with data. Commenting on the tremendous growth of NCAA’s accounts, Dion says “it’s been a long arduous process but a lot of it has come from data and data analyzation and the work we are putting into the results.” The impact of data from Conviva Social Insights is illustrated by NCAA’s accounts, NCAAVolleyball and NCAALax which in 2018 increased their average reach by 1,350% and 493% respectively. They also saw a Stories reach rate nearly 3x the sports industry average measured in Conviva’s latest Instagram Benchmark Report.

The NCAA saw this success by listening to the data, even when it contradicted with conventional wisdom on what “should” work. As Dion shared, that meant taking the reins off a strict limit for frames per story. “We removed the suggestion of how long they should be based on the data,” Dion shared. Completion rate typically drops with more frames, but they “weren’t seeing drop off after a certain point.” NCAA’s Stories averaged 25 frames per story, a stark contrast to the industry average of 8 frames per story Conviva measured in our latest Instagram Benchmark Report. While many brands try to keep stories short to preserve that high completion rate, NCAA’s data showed that they had more success without length restrictions. Data, translated into actionable insights, is key to understanding how best to engage with your unique audience. By taking action on this insight, NCAA saw massive success.

                  

Also at the core of NCAA’s data-driven Stories approach is an innovative account takeover strategy highlighting college sports programs from all over the country. During the takeovers, the players, colleges, and teams promote NCAA accounts and in turn players get to amplify themselves, their content, and their team to a national audience. “It gets competitive,” Dion quipped, “teams and organizations keep tuning back in because they want to see what all the other teams are doing.” NCAA’s Instagram takeover strategy was borne of Conviva Social Insights data in what Dion laughingly refers to as “almost a dummy moment.” He explains that during a takeover, “when we were looking at the pie chart of where our views, impressions, and engagements were coming from in Conviva, we quickly saw that Instagram kept grabbing a bigger and bigger piece of the pie. Not only did this strategy make Instagram the majority driver of our views, impressions, and engagements but we could see that Instagram Stories was driving half, if not more of it. It made sense to try to replicate that.”

It wasn’t just the NCAA’s Instagram Stories whose reach and engagement increased from the takeover strategy, Dion shared that it also positively impacted their timeline content. “Conviva allowed us to confirm what we thought to be true,” Dion added, “I truly believe the more time you invest in a brand’s Story the more often you are going to see them in your timeline.”

NCAA knew the potential of data before they could easily visualize it with Conviva Social Insights, but as Dion shared it was “taking up someone’s full day to track everything.” If you’d like to see what makes Conviva Social Insights different, sign up for a free trial of our Instagram Stories Analytics. To hear more about NCAA’s Instagram Stories success you can watch the full webinar.