How the Florida Times-Union used Instagram to connect with a younger, more diverse audience

How the Florida Times-Union used Instagram to connect with a younger, more diverse audience

Here’s an idea to steal and adapt: Grow your audience — including younger, more diverse readers — by using non-traditional social media platforms to promote stories and establish lines of communication where readers feel like they can interact with a person, not a company.

Question: What communities do you serve and what can you tell us about the history of your organization?

Answer: The Florida Times-Union is the state’s oldest newspaper. It’s an institution that has historically served a predominantly white, affluent audience. The issue is that the traditional audience is not a true reflection of our entire community. Jacksonville is a BIPOC majority city and in recent years, our newsroom has worked to serve a diverse readership.

Q: What problem were you trying to solve, and why was solving the problem strategically important for your organization?

A: Our mission when we joined Table Stakes was to better connect to our community and to do a better job at being public-facing, promoting our work using methods that reach a diverse audience. (The UNC-Knight Table Stakes initiative is a yearlong program run by the UNC Center for Innovation and Sustainability in Local Media and funded by the Knight Foundation.)

I work really hard as an education reporter to make sure student voices are being featured prominently in my stories. Far too often, it’s easy for education reporters to get hung up on what a school board member is saying without thinking about the people whom those policies are impacting firsthand.

And what’s the best way to get in touch with those young people? Duh, on Instagram.

We knew young people (and others!) already followed us on the platform, but there was still this disconnect between our grid and our audience. As part of my focus, I revamped our Instagram page to

  1. Feature more young people
  2. Proactively engage with the people on our Instagram
  3. Let their responses help drive our coverage

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