WIRED Social Content - IG Stories


Instagram stories were being underutilized at WIRED. Our goal was to leverage social content to help monetize WIRED’s digital space while answering the question, “How can we make our content stand out among other brands, especially fellow news organizations?”

The social media team and I (with oversight from the creative director) evolved a strategy to create an entertaining and educational space for our users while meeting the business needs by driving traffic back to the site to hit the paywall. A paywall is a popular way for news organizations to monetize their digital content once a certain number of articles have been read (see image below).

Screen Shot 2019-02-01 at 3.59.34 PM.png


WIRED’s audience is smart and tech savvy. We needed a way to intelligently engage them on social media and create an experience that felt like they were receiving bonus content rather than something blatantly repurposed.


  1. Lack of Budget. We did not have any additional budget to commission any art - all of the art must be done in house.

  2. Time Constraints. Stories range from fast newsy stories that need to go up in a couple of hours or long-form stories that need more time and thought. We have a limited number of designers and only a few of us can animate, so we had to closely rely on the animators to pull off the kind of content we wanted to create.

  3. Attention Constraints. Our users are busy and have a limited amount of attention they can give to any one social media platform or brand.


Social content is deemed successful based on a variety of metrics that are specific to each platform. For example, Twitter uses retweets, likes, and shares.

We know we’re on track as we gain more of a following and can see how our users are interacting with the platform. In the case of Instagram Stories, we measure things like tap-through length, swipe-ups, and time spent in a story.


To solve the more granular problem of “How can we get the user to actually engage with our IG story content?” I worked closely with the social media manager to come up with visual strategies that leveraged the functionality of Instagram to tell WIRED stories. When creating visual content for IG stories, I wanted to make sure I was using functionality such as tapping, swiping, and interactive things like questions/answers and design around this to entice people to engage with the platform.



Here are some strategies we utilized below:



Templates allow our limited staff to work quickly. It also allows us to create content that aligns with brand guidelines. Limited color palettes and typography schemes help clarify content that can be convoluted and hard to follow.


Creating adapted bonus content that stemmed from the print magazine created more avenues that led to the paywall. Feature stories from the magazine are adapted with motion graphics and social treatment to create a new perspective on the story.


Micro-branded content creates visual consistency that creates a consistent following. A branded introduction is easy to swap out each week and still feels delightful as the content is new each week. Our News Quiz is one of our most successful IG stories with lots of user engagement each week.


Bright colors and motion are used to make complex subject matter more entertaining. Motion also plays on natural psychology to attract attention and induce engagement; actions like tapping and swiping to move to the next leg of the story.



Content that involves trivia or quizzes naturally entices the audience to engage with the platform. From a design perspective, I rely on motion to tie each slide together to create one cohesive storytelling experience - this increases engagement and click through rates.


The introduction to an IG story can make or break audience engagement - here are two examples of great copy and motion graphics being used together to draw people in.



Significantly higher click-through rates, increased number of followers per story, and lots of people coming back to the site and hitting the paywall.