Rick Mills, editor of the Morning Sun in Mt. Pleasant, Mich., shared an important Facebook lesson with me this afternoon (added links and updated a bit):
You always think it’s the big stuff, the breaking news… but I posted something today about a popular local restaurant closing. Since then we’ve got 70 new followers, it’s been seen by more than 15,000 people, 69 have commented.
Lesson: It’s not always about tragedy. It’s about community, about the people we cover and the things they do. But I guess we already knew that.
The Morning Sun, by the way, is one of our newsrooms that has a bigger audience on Facebook than in the morning newspaper. Weekday print circulation is about 7,000. Sunday is over 8,000. Facebook fans topped 10,300 today.
Note in the screengrab above that the post has been shared more than 200 times. “Likes” aren’t very high (probably because it’s bad news and Facebook hasn’t added a “dislike” option yet).
Community fun is a good way to engage on Facebook.
Wanda Murren, Managing Editor/Digital Media at The Evening Sun in Hanover, Pa., reports on the success of the post shown above:
I think we’ve broken some sort of world record with our FB post yesterday previewing the Treat’s season opening. OK, maybe not a world record, but it’s almost certainly an ES record. I remember some big reactions, but nothing like this. We were amazed all day long at how the numbers were taking off. (more…)
Allen, who is based in Denver, called my suggestion to the attention of his colleagues Eric Lubbers and Dan Petty in the Denver Post newsroom. “They ran with it, and it’s now going to be a standard feature,” Allen said in an email. “Nice engagement and it seemed to boost the post that came up next.”
The photo above, as you can see, got lots of shares and likes. (It also got more than 40 comments, but I can’t show them all in a screen grab.)
I think the short, pithy questions that Maryanne MacLeod of the Macomb Daily uses with some of her archival photos (below) tend to get stronger engagement. But I also like the idea of inviting people to click for more old photos on your website. I’d like to see how it works if someone combines the two techniques. This much is clear: Remember-when photos are an effective engagement tool. Please let me know how your newsroom is using them and what works well (or doesn’t work) for you.
Update:Susan Steade of the San Jose Mercury News sends along some more experience with photo archives (edited from two emails):
In 20 hours, more than 1,000 people shared that on their Facebook walls, more than 3,000 people liked it (nearly as many as like the Macomb Daily) and more than 600 have commented (the combined totals have gone up by more than 200 just since I grabbed that screen grab and started writing). The numbers above don’t show this, but Maryanne reports that more than 84,000 people have looked at the photo.
Resuming the original post: This isn’t the first time I’ve shared a success story with remember-when photos from the Macomb Daily’s Facebook page. In my post on Facebook engagement tips last October, I noted a photo of the Plum Pit that went viral with more than 11,000 likes. (more…)
Update: The runaway winner for the best Digital First Valentine’s engagement project is the Saratogian, with The Crazy Things We Do for Love. The Saratogian won 365 votes out of 750 votes cast, or 49 percent, a landslide in a 10-way race. A box of Valentine’s candy will be shipped out today to the new (and obviously successful engagement editor Aubree Cutkomp for the newsroom to share.
A second-place box will go out to the Reporter-Herald, which got 133 votes or 18 percent. Defending champion Smart magazine in York, Pa., got 78 votes, just over 10 percent. Thanks to all the newsrooms who participated, and congratulations on lots of successful engagement. Scroll down to read about the winning projects and the rest.
Here’s the original post: As lovers prepare to celebrate Valentine’s Day, Digital First newsrooms are engaging their communities in romance and fun.
Last year, I sent off boxes of Valentine’s candy to the York Daily Record and the Morning Sun to reward their Valentine’s engagement, voted the best by readers of my blog. I was probably going to let the holiday slide by without note here, but Jessica Benes of the Reporter-Herald in Loveland, Colo., asked if I was going to reprise the contest. So I asked my colleagues to send me their accounts of what they were doing. I’ll let them make their pitches here (in the order submitted, with light editing).
After you’ve read them, please scroll back up here to vote. Again, the winning newsroom gets a Priority Mail box stuffed with Valentine’s candy.
It’s too late for you to compete for the candy if you’re not listed here, but it’s probably not too late to steal one of these ideas (give credit, please, as Jennifer Connor did in the final entry here) for some Valentine’s fun this week.
I am the Lamar Family Visiting Scholar at LSU's Manship School of Mass Communication. I have been an editor, reporter and writing coach for Digital First Media, TBD.com, seven community and metro newspapers. I spent three years doing research, teaching and writing for the American Press Institute. I have pursued my journalism career in 44 states, nine Canadian provinces, Ireland, Venezuela, Mexico, Germany, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Ecuador, Siberia, France and Italy.