What kinds of local stories drive engagement? The results of an NPR Facebook experiment


We looked at every story we geotargeted during the months of July, August, and September 2012, focusing on the ones that the localized NPR Facebook following liked, shared, and commented on at a high rate. From this group of successful stories, we identified similarities which allowed us to create nine distinct content categories. We then dissected each successful story to decide which category it fell into.

To identify a story’s category, we asked a series of questions. Why did people share this story? What reaction did people have when they shared it? What is the story actually delivering to people — an explanation, a video, a hard news story?

We repeated this exercise several times for each piece of content until we were confident placing it into a category.

Before we get to the results, we should point out a few things. First, we aren’t implying that the nine types of content below are the only kinds of content that exist or matter. Rather, we’re articulating data-backed trends we discovered in an analysis of content geotargeted to four cities (KPCC joined the project after the measurement period) over a span of three months. Finally, as you look at examples, you might notice that there is overlap. Some stories fit into multiple categories. We placed stories into categories based on their primary defining characteristics.

Here are the 9 types of local stories that cause engagement:

Nieman Journalism Lab.

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