Instagram stands out among social media networks as being the most FOMO-driven (fear of missing out). It’s addictive features translate into more engagement and longer time spent on the app. That’s an opportunity for news media – who struggle to compete for users’ attention – to tap into the 1 billion monthly active users.

But as Instagram users become more conscious of the time they spend online, many of them curate their newsfeeds carefully. That means news media need to up their game to stay competitive.

The Fix prepared a list for those who want to get the most important information from European and Middle Eastearn countries in their Instagram feed. Here are our picks: 

#1 The Guardian 

Followers: 4.4M

The Guardian feed posts contain bite-size facts, updates from the world of economics, ecology, and politics. Strong video stories with characteristic accents often relate to nature or emotional stories. 

For example, the most popular post in May was a video about a Red Cross volunteer consoling a Senegalese man moments after he stepped foot in Spain’s North African enclave of Ceuta. It collected over 1.5M views and 212K likes.

The British news website grew its Instagram following from 860K in 2018 to 4.4M in June 2021. The publisher’s account recorded over 57% year-over-year growth in 2018. The main goal of the profile is to encourage followers to become regular readers of The Guardian’s site and apps (and then paying subscribers). 

#2 Financial Times

Followers: 2.5M

The Financial Times feed is full of images with quotes and infographics related to the latest articles. The hottest topics are covered in detail on IGTV as Q&As or video posts. 

Although the FT has a well-defined profile, it is the only medium on our list to have several related accounts on various topics: house and home, fashion, lifestyle, climate, entertainment.

The number of followers has gone up almost 300% since 2017. According to then FT US social media editor Jake Grovum, their Instagram account is not aimed at attracting paying subscribers, but only provides followers with the out-of-paywall FT content via swiping up Insta stories. 

#3 La Repubblica

Followers: 1.4M

One of the two biggest Italian dailies has a tight publication schedule on Instagram. Followers can see up to 10 La Repubblica posts per day in their newsfeeds. The account covers news from all over the world, albeit with a strong focus on Italy. 

Local stories are more popular among La Repubblica IG followers. This is evidenced by the presence of separate accounts of the local editorial offices of the newspaper (and the top post in May). The photo of a door notice in one of Naples’s hospitals foreshadows the story of a struggle of local female doctors against gender discrimination. The post collected 147K likes and over 3K comments in 4 weeks.

#4 Le Monde

Followers: 1.4M

The famous French opinion-forming newspaper does not give up on large text formats – even on Instagram! Events from France and the world take on the form of dynamic Insta stories, often containing a slide show of 2-3 pictures or one static illustration of the article title on Le Monde website. 

To inspire publishers, Facebook posted a case study of their cooperation with Le Monde. According to it, over 1.5 year, starting in 2018, usage of Custom Audiences on IG and lookalike audiences on Facebook provided Le Monde with:

  • a 20% increase in digital subscriptions in 2018
  • a 30% increase in unique users across the web page and app
  • cost per subscription remained below 33% of lifetime customer value

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#5 El Pais

Followers: 1.1M

The most popular Spanish politics-focused daily newspaper has IG accounts for newsrooms in Mexico, Brazil, and the USA

In 2017 Pilar Millán Galante, then Director of Audience Development at Prisa Noticias (part of the El Pais conglomerate), described weekly meetings with social media teams from all international offices. They regularly analyze the best and worst posts of El Pais and competitors to maintain their global position. 

Unlike previous profiles, El Pais doesn’t use hashtags in post descriptions, but rather encourages users to click the link in the bio. In addition, they promote podcasts in highlights and publish survey results from Insta stories. 

In terms of stories, the publisher tends to focus on “softer” content compared to feed posts: a potato tortilla recipe vs. the story of the “Greek Alcatraz”.

#6 Meduza

Followers: 919K

The prominent Russian-language independent media is famous for engaging readers in tests and games on their website and social media. Interaction is especially important now for the performance of advertising campaigns after Meduza was labeled as a “foreign agent” by the Russian authorities.

Although Meduza is famous for investigative reports and analytical long reads, its IG profile has a consistent graphic design full of cartoons and large-font-texts. The language of Meduza is very straightforward, full of meme-like jokes and emojis. 

Authors often engage readers to comment on posts by asking thematic questions. 

“Hot” news shows up in the form of IGTV films. The only link in the profile leads to the donation page, where users can purchase a regular subscription or “leave tips” for their favorite articles.

More from The Fix: Meduza counters Russian authorities’ “foreign agent” attack with appeal to readers 

#7 Der Spiegel

Followers: 843K

One of the biggest European weekly newspapers from Germany tends to tease the audience with the quotes and pieces from the materials that can then be accessed through Insta stories. 

The most important news is often covered in videos from IGTV. On the top of the profile there is a modest number of diverse thematic highlights: ex-Trump-fans, Nawalny, alcohol consumption,  “Game of Thrones” and more. 

The most popular post of Der Spiegel in May, with over 39K likes, is about an interview on the impact of climate change on health. The speaker, Dr. Eckart von Hirschhausen is primarily known in Germany as a comedian and TV presenter. 

Interestingly, followers can read articles for free only via insta stories. They will hit the paywall gate by entering the same material from the search engine.

#8 Current Time. Asia

Followers: 269K

The side-project of the Russian-language TV channel Current Time is one of the biggest IG profiles covering Central Asian news. The profile is full of versatile human stories in Current Time. Asia

Diverse materials about Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan are highlighted. Current Time. Asia is the only TV channel on our list, which despite focusing on video, publishes mini-articles under the published photos. 

The leading video in May covered the Tajikistan-Kyrgyzstan armed conflict and collected 306K views, 13K likes, and over 2K comments. As of June 10, 2021, it is the third most popular post on the profile in Q2 2021. The first two are also about difficult subjects – death and poverty.

#9 Qumash

Followers: 245K

Qumash is the only medium on this list without a website. Stories on its IG profile redirect followers to the Telegram posts about Kazakhstan local news. Profiles on IG and TG are curated in very informal Russian, meme-news is mixed with touching human stories. 

The most popular Qumash post from the last month showed the morning of Oraza Ait Namaz (Kazakhstan’s Eid-al-Fitr) near the central Beket-ata mosque in Aktau. The drone footage was viewed for 149K times and liked 46K times.

#10 Middle East Eye

Followers: 194K

Middle East Eye is one of the biggest international media about the Middle East, Central Asia and North Africa. Headquartered in London, it is run by former Al-Jazeera and The Guardian top managers. 

It focuses on social and political events, some posts are even blurred and labeled as controversial. There are no links in feed posts, only brief descriptions, and some engaging questions. In Highlights top articles are separated by topics and available via swipe up.

As of June 10, 2021, the most viral 2021 IG post of Middle East Eye was published in May. The heartbreaking speech of a 10-year-old Palestinian girl after Israeli airstrikes destroyed her neighbor’s house was viewed more than 1.7M times.

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