BBC News is stepping up its efforts to reach new audiences on social media platforms after mobile and tablet viewing figures overtook desktop use for the first time in December.
On 16 January, BBC News launched Instafax, a new short-form video news service delivered to Instagram users. The project is a month-long experiment, with three 15-second videos uploaded a day, intended to serve as a roundup of the day’s news.
The name is a throwback to the BBC’s former Ceefax service – the world’s first teletext service that ran on UK television until 2012. This is described as the updated version of a text-based, short-form news service for the digital age.
The first Instafax to be trialled on the BBC News Instagram account
Steve Herrmann, head of BBC News Online, said the trial was a response to changing audience patterns after monthly figures for December, showed mobile and tablet consumption had overtaken desktop for the first time.
The BBC has made subtle changes to its video news services in recent months, including “selfie” pieces to camera filmed on mobile phones being incorporated into mainstream broadcast packages.
“We want the process to be organic, and we’re keen to trial new ideas on how we can use our video content to reach new audiences,” Herrmann said.
“[BBC News director] James Harding has been clear in his vision to find innovative ways to bring the best of our journalism to new audiences, something our team has been looking at for some time.”
There are currently no plans to launch any more social media trials, but BBC News will keep a watchful eye on developments around the world to see how their news can be delivered in new and innovative ways.
Instafax viewers are being encouraged to comment and give feedback. So far it has had mixed reactions ranging from “Instafax is a game changer” to “worst idea ever”.
The move is part of the BBC’s ongoing efforts to make its presence felt in digital spaces people are already inhabiting. Last week, unseen footage from a BBC team ambushed in south Sudan made for popular viewing on YouTube.