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  • Writer's pictureCaroline Watkins

Columbia Missourian

Updated: Aug 24, 2021

As part of my senior capstone, I worked with two other students to improve audience engagement at our local city newspaper, the Columbia Missourian.

Some of our duties included:

• Working with two other students to improve a city newspaper's Instagram strategy

• Conducting a market survey to determine steps to improve audience engagement

• Creating an Instagram Style Guide and Audience Engagement Report for the newsroom

• Implementing a "Link in Bio" system to increase traffic on the newspaper's website

• Experimenting with a variety of Instagram features to determine what to include in the newspaper's future Instagram strategy (from Instagram Story highlight projects to a photo contest promoted through the app)

I worked with two of my convergence peers, Pate McCuien (left) and Taylor Moore (right)

Over the course of our 3.5 months experimenting with the platform, we increased our followers by nearly 300 and doubled our link-in-bio clicks, bringing more of our followers from Instagram back to our website (see graph below).

In addition to learning more about how to analyze metrics from Instagram Analytics and apps such as and, we also studied a number of professional Instagram accounts created by news outlets (i.e. The Star Tribune and The Washington Post) to better understand what types of posts were performing well. Below, you will see a screenshot of one of our slide decks; this is the type of information that we included in our Instagram Style Guide.

We also presented our findings from our market surveys and Instagram Analytics so The Missourian could better understand its target audience and what their followers wanted to see on the Instagram account (see photos below).

Here are some of our results from our market survey:

Through this experience, I learned so much about audience engagement and how to tell stories creatively using Instagram's various features. This capstone also inspired me to pursue a career in audience engagement, post-graduation.

You can view more of my audience engagement work in my "Chatham News + Record" post, where I was able to apply many of the skills that I learned through this capstone to the newspaper that I worked at through the RJI Student Innovation Fellowship.


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