Leave it to NPR to do a study on which types of stories on Facebook drive the highest levels of engagement. Any political leanings aside, they are simply one of the best storytelling machines still grinding. But you don’t have to be a sophisticated content publisher to benefit from their research insights. NPR shared the results last week, and I hold up one take-away for us all: There is great power in the small.
What is small?
As an Army reporter and editor, I learned that small means looking for stories and photographs that quickly pull a reader into the distinct “aha” moment of the subject. Write intimate, shoot tight—make ‘em feel something, we used to say. If we wanted to know the goal, strategy or tactics of a mission, we talked to the brass. If we wanted to experience the impact of their decisions, we pushed down into the story. We wrote at the most personal level, standing at the elbow of a soldier, and there we would find the good stuff.
The good stuff
The good stuff back then is still considered the good stuff today: authentic, relevant, fresh storytelling executed with deft focus. NPR outlines nine types of content that cause higher levels of engagement. No matter the topic, they all require one to do a deep dive. Take a magnifying glass with you and zoom in on the intriguing.
If you are a tourism destination, you are sitting on a goldmine of precisely this type of content. Your city’s traits, quirks and habits are there, just waiting to be put under a microscope. These are things well known, especially to locals, but now you are explaining why they even exist in the first place. Why does State Street in downtown Bristol TN/VA have bars and restaurants on one side of the road but not on the other? Why does it get so dang hot in Augusta?
Not a tourist destination? How is your manufacturing facility unique, even odd. Shoot a video about how and why your store is designed to deliver a certain experience. Put us there. Share your organization’s culture—perhaps do a photo essay on what’s it like to walk in your shoes from 9-5. Satisfy our curiosity. Tell the backstory. Be heartwarming. Make us smile. Post some awe-inspiring imagery. Turns out we all like to feel a little proud of where we live and work, too, the report states. So throw some horn-blowing into the mix.
Then take things one step further and geo-target the delivery of this compelling content on Facebook. To do this, use a somewhat obscure Facebook feature that allows anyone with a Facebook page to customize posts by location. For example, a post about Nashville can be modified so only users in Nashville will see it in their Facebook feed. Why go to this trouble? NPR found their geo-targeted Facebook posts were six times more successful than those on their global Facebook page.
Small writing and geo-targeted delivery of content are part of a growing trend across marketing and communication channels to increase relevancy in order to increase engagement. As we plan for next year, rest assured the highest returns on marketing efforts will come from those that are compelling, personalized, targeted and timely. Small will be huge in 2013.
Check out some of our related Tombras work:
The Augusta TEE Center website
The Smoky Mountain Tourism and Development Authority website
The Bristol Convention and Visitors Bureau website
The Northeast Tennessee Tourism Authority website