We recently completed a longitudinal piece of research with the RAF looking at engagement with the RAF’s Instagram followers. The RAF Media and Communications Team were keen to shift the way they engage with their followers on Instagram in order to better engage with them and meet their user needs.
The initial round of research
Our user research was split into two distinct rounds. The first of these took place in July and August 2022 and sought to understand and benchmark the current audience experience, alongside identifying opportunities to improve engagement.
We completed five in-depth semi-structured interviews, each with different user roles which the RAF team prioritised with us at the outset of the research. We also conducted a user experience survey with current followers of the RAF Instagram page. We analysed the results from nearly 350 respondents to generate data about users’ perceptions of the RAF’s social media engagement on Instagram.
We ran a findings debrief from this initial round of the research in September 2022. This presented and discussed more than 25 findings. These included:
- A need for the RAF account to engage more with followers’ comments
- A desire amongst users for more content about the diverse range of roles in the RAF
- The existence of dissatisfaction among serving personnel who follow the page
We also shared these findings at the RAF Media and Comms social media engagement training ran by Helpful Digital in October 2022.
Period of the RAF trialling different methods of engagement
Following this, the RAF team began testing different types of engagement with Instagram users. For example introducing a photo competition, producing more day-in-the-life storyteller content, and promoting some co-productions with other pages to reach further audiences.
In October we then made contact via email with the 5 participants who had taken part in the initial round of interviews. These users were emailed a short survey, probing whether they had noticed any changes in the way the RAF Instagram page interacts with its followers. As well as providing valuable feedback, this also acted as an important touch point with users to try and mitigate the possibility of sample attrition.
The second round of research
The second round of the research took place across December 2022 and January 2023. This evaluated the impact of the RAF media and communications team’s new social media engagement techniques. We explored whether these had made a demonstrable impact on engagement with the RAF Instagram page and whether the page was now better able to meet its audience’s user needs.
This round of the research, again, consisted of user interviews and an experience survey. We interviewed four of the same users from the initial round of the research. Our user experience survey received nearly 200 responses, with a similar breakdown of users compared to the first survey.
We ran a debrief session with the RAF in January 2023 to share our findings. This discussed the results from the second round of the research, as well as highlighting shifts between the two rounds of the research.
Whilst our research highlighted that there continued to exist a significant well of dissatisfaction among serving personnel, our findings suggested that the changes made by the RAF to their Instagram page had an impact on users’ satisfaction. We shared quotes from users to evidence this, for example: “it’s really picked up in interesting content”. Many users told us that they felt the page now posts a better variety of content.
Moreover, a third of survey respondents who completed the second user experience survey reported that they thought the RAF now engages better with its Instagram followers than it did six months ago.
These findings are being used to make further improvements to the RAF’s engagement with users on Instagram, as well as across other social media platforms.