It’s been almost 12 months since Glamour UK revealed plans to cut its print run to two issues per-year and become a digital-first, beauty-focused brand. Now, trials on the likes of Instagram Stories are helping the magazine increase its popularity among young, loyal readers and its appeal to brands.
Year-on-year the Condé Nast title has seen the number of click-throughs (or ‘swipe ups’) to its own content published via Stories increase by 1200%, with retention rates clocking in at 94%.
On its website, loyal readers, which are classed as users who visit the site more than four times each month, are up 33% on 2017.
An early adopter of Instagram’s snackable, ephemeral video service, the once handbag-sized glossy has been posting news and cover stories (like Kylie Jenner's latest splash) on Stories. It's now planting a stake in the ground with regular series exclusive to the 24-hour format to drive further reader loyalty.
“We're creating a seven-day Instagram Stories schedule,” Deborah Joseph, Glamour UK’s editor-in-chief and chief content officer told journalists at an event last week.
Shows launched in the last 10 months have included Lottie Tries (where beauty editor Lottie Winter samples treatments like Botox) and Wellness Wednesday (which offers tips on nutrition, heath and wellbeing).
“To say it’s been a success story would be an understatement,” added Joseph. The content, she explained, doesn’t feel polished (“some of it is filmed in a cupboard”) and that’s why viewers love it.
While the series is chiefly editorially-focused, brands too are itching to get involved with Glamour's Stories.
Slots like Glam Drop, where the Glamour team reveal which new products are hitting shelves that week, have proved popular among big name cosmetics firms like Rihanna's Fenty Beauty. The brand recently shipped a lipstick over to Vogue House in a covert operation to ensure it would secure a place on the video, before swiftly ushering it out of the building under embargo.
"[Glam Drop] is really popular with brands. They know that we film it on a Friday and it goes out on a Monday and they're giving us exclusives. Even if it's embargoed until a Monday they're sending it to us on a Friday because they know it's a highly-engaging piece of user content," said Joseph.
With 400 million users and the ability to engage them with polls and other features, advertisers have been duly flocking to Instagram's storytelling platform – with some even inking 'Stories only' deals with influencers.
The medium is fast catching up with Instagram's main grid in terms of courting social spend, opening up potential revenue streams for publishers.
For Glamour, the natural evolution of Instagram Stories is a move to Instagram TV (IGTV), which hosts long-form episodic style content. Although this foray will see it take a test-and-learn approach.
"We met with Instagram to talk about our next big thing which is [going to be] Instagram TV… for us we're looking at what other people are doing [and asking]: 'is anyone doing it well?' and Instagram is [saying]: 'nope, there's no real success stories yet'," said Joseph.
She continued: "I see that as an exciting thing, it's a challenge, it's open for everybody to win and that's really cool. That's where we'll be focusing our next round of content."
Joseph took the helm of Glamour UK in 2017 following the departure of its founding editor Jo Elvin. She arrived in the midst of its digital shakedown, initiated after its print circulation dipped to under 250,000.
Along with publishing director Camilla Newman, Joseph has overhauled the website to make it more "visually Instagrammable" and upped the distribution of the re-designed (now matte) print edition to 350,000.
Since launching its first bi-annual issue in March Glamour has also experienced a 22% increase in UK online readers – its highest in three years.
Across all its platforms it’s now got a brand reach of 8 million.
When it pushed the reset button, Condé Nast decided to "fully integrate", Glamour's editorial and content teams to give brands access to a "unified and cohesive structure.
"If we do this well and it's successful it's a potential blueprint for other print brands to move forward in so I know we're being watched very closely and I think that's an exciting position," Joseph said of the relaunch.