In the age of 8-second attention spans, getting people to pay attention to anything is a challenge. When you want people to pay attention to long-form, traditional media, your work is cut out for you.

Reading, especially of novels, is said to improve empathy, critical thinking skills and the ability to analyze an argument. Considering the decline in reading anything longer than 140 – nope, now a whopping 280 characters – that’s cause for concern.

But There’s Hope!

In a new campaign, the New York Public Library is bringing classic novels to life in a brand new way. Instagram stories. That’s right, the platform that brings you pet pics, artistic lattes, foodies’ plates and celebrity selfies is currently bringing Lewis Carroll’s classic Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to the masses.


The Greatest Stories on Instagram Stories

In perfect harmony with the library’s mission, the campaign adapts classic literature for the platform and makes it accessible to the public. NYPL has plans for forthcoming novels. Appropriately, each novel is accompanied by original animations and released in parts, making the long-form media more digestible in line with current content trends that favor “snackable” media.

A Bold, but Calculated Move

As platforms evolve, so does the way that people consume content. Releasing novels on Instagram is a bold move on the part of NYPL, but not one that’s uncalculated.

First, younger audiences are tuning out Facebook in favor of its more visual cousin (or child?) Instagram. While older generations may always prefer a good old fashioned paperback, the way that young people consume media is breaking many of the molds we’ve had in place. NYPL knows it’s far better to be ahead of the curve than behind it.

“Bookish” Instagram accounts have been wildly successful, drawing followers with artful, visual book recommendations that forego the literary critiques that were once a mainstay for launching a new work. The success of these accounts, whether publishing houses or voracious readers, demonstrated to NYPL that yes, an audience exists for novels via Instagram.


2018 Content Consumption Trends

Taking a look at some of this year’s biggest content trends supports the investment involved in what we can assume is a test campaign. As the campaign progresses, it will be interesting to see the response to traditional media delivered via Instagram stories.

  1. People want “snackable” content. Busy schedules and endless competition for our attention mean most people aren’t going to devote hours to content consumption.
  2. Story is still key. People still gravitate to a good story, especially when that story involves visual elements.
  3. Serialized content is on the rise. Reading may be down, but podcasts are thriving. The shift from film to episodic streaming shows also reflects a growing preference for shorter segments and a longer overall story.
  4. Out of the box content wins. Delivering something unexpected makes waves. Few people would expect to see classic novels on Instagram, and the sheer novelty is enough to attract a new audience.

Classic Literature and Opera Too

The New York Public Library isn’t the only recent convergence of classic media and technology. Opera, a medium traditionally reserved for the highbrow and stodgy, is getting a VR facelift at the Welsh National Opera in a VR immersive, interactive experience now traveling throughout the UK. The experience is using bleeding edge tech and collaborations between universities, private industry, and the arts in order to bring the magic of opera to a previously untapped audience.

How can this help you?

Your tried-and-true channels are great, but now is the time to think outside the box. Or better yet, rethink the box itself. Take a step back and really examine the content you’re delivering to your audience. What do they want? Where are they spending time? How can you get them to care about what you’re doing in the midst of endless background noise?

How can you truly expand your reach rather than sending the same message to the same audience? Take a cue from innovators like NYPL and the Welsh National Opera.

Reach out to us for more ideas to keep your brand on the cutting edge of content!

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